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Covid-19 India highlights: Several states, including Maharashtra, report huge spike in cases

Meanwhile, Indian SARS-COV-2 Genomics Consortia INSACOG said in its latest bulletin that there is now clear experimental and clinical data supporting very high immune escape potential of Omicron, but initial estimates show the severity of illness being lower than what was seen in previous outbreaks

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: December 30, 2021 7:39:27 am
Covid-19Covid-19 testing near Loni Road crossing in New Delhi. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

With 9,195 people testing positive for Covid-19 in a day, India’s total tally of Covid-19 cases rose to 3,48,08,886 on Wednesday. According to the data, which was last updated at 8 am, there are 77,002 active cases in the country. The Health Ministry, while referring to the data, also said that India has recorded 781 cases of the Omicron variant across 21 states and UTs so far, out of which 241 people have recovered or migrated.

Here are the top developments on Covid-19 from across the country.

Several states report huge single-day spike in cases

Delhi and Rajasthan were among several states which reported a sharp spike in Covid-19 cases on Wednesday. Delhi reported 923 fresh cases on Wednesday, which marked a steep rise from the 496 detected a day earlier. The positivity rate also jumped up to 1.29%. For the first time in almost six months, Rajasthan reported a single-day spike of more than 100 cases.

Among other cities, Mumbai registered a huge spike, recording 2,510 cases. Moreover, 400 infections were detected in Bengaluru, 540 in Kolkata and 294 in Chennai.

Maharashtra reported 3,900 fresh Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, marking a steep rise from the  2,172 infections detected in the state a day earlier.

Out of the fresh cases, 2,510 were from Mumbai, which is also a big jump from the 1,333 infections reported a day ago. The city also recorded one death due to Covid-19. There are 8,060 active Covid-19 cases in Mumbai now.

Clear data supporting very high immune escape potential of Omicron: INSACOG

There is now clear experimental and clinical data supporting very high immune escape potential of Omicron, but initial estimates show the severity of illness being lower than what was seen in previous outbreaks, the Indian SARS-COV-2 Genomics Consortia INSACOG said in its latest bulletin citing global data.

In India, appropriate public health measures and investigations are being conducted for surveillance of Omicron, INSACOG said while noting that globally there appears to be significantly reduced ability of vaccines or prior infection to protect against symptomatic infection by the Omicron variant.

“While Delta continues to be the most prevalent VOC globally, the Omicron variant has completely displaced it in southern Africa and is on track to become the dominant variant in UK and elsewhere,” INSACOG said in its bulletin.

“Initial estimates of severity of illness have, however, been lower than seen in previous outbreaks. Whether these initial observations are generalisable to older non-immune subjects is not clear and the threat level is still considered high,” it said.

Bengal CM asks officials to review Covid situation, says schools and colleges will be shut if need be

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday asked officials concerned to review the overall Covid-19 situation in the state, amid the threat of a possible third wave of the pandemic looming large.

She asked the officials to identify containment zones in the city, where cases have been on the rise. Banerjee, during an administrative review meeting at Sagar Island, also said that schools and colleges might be shut down for some time if the situation so demands.

Offices could be asked to function with just 50 per cent employee attendance, if necessary, she stated.

“Covid-19 cases are on the rise… there are a few Omicron cases also. So, review the situation in the state. We may consider closing down schools and colleges for some time,” Banerjee told officials at the meeting.

The CM, who is visiting the island to take stock of the arrangements for the annual Gangasagar mela, also said that a decision on international flight and local train services will also be taken after the Covid-19 situation is reviewed in the state.

Meanwhile, at least five more persons in West Bengal tested positive for Omicron on Wednesday, taking the total number of patients infected by the new variant of coronavirus in the state to 11, a senior health department official said.

Traders in Delhi request DDMA to amend Covid restrictions under GRAP

The Chamber of Trade and Industry (CTI), an umbrella body of different trade unions in Delhi, urged the DDMA on Wednesday to amend the restrictions under the GRAP for Covid-19 and consider two other indicators as well — the number of fresh cases of the infection and that of the oxygen beds occupied — before announcing any colour-coded alert.

CTI chairman Brijesh Goyal said he has written to the DDMA, urging it to amend the GRAP conditions as traders are facing huge losses because of the restrictions.

“At present, Delhi is neither reporting 1,500 coronavirus cases per day nor 500 oxygen beds are occupied. According to the CTI, there is a need to make changes in the colour-code provisions. If all three conditions — the infection rate, the number of fresh cases and the oxygen bed occupancy — are being met simultaneously, then the restrictions under a GRAP colour code should be imposed,” Goyal was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has sounded a “yellow” alert under its Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) after the Covid positivity rate in the national capital was recorded above 0.5 per cent for two consecutive days.

The DDMA on Tuesday ordered a closure of schools, colleges, cinema halls and gymnasiums with immediate effect and clamped various restrictions on the functioning of shops and public transport.

Delhi Health Minister says rise in cases due to international flights coming in

Amid a spike in Covid-19 cases in the city, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Wednesday said many international travellers, who have tested negative at the airport, are testing positive after a few days and infecting their family members during the period.

“The cases have increased due to international flights. Even during the earlier wave, the cases rose with flights coming in,” the minister told reporters.

Delhi on Wednesday recorded 238 Omicron cases. There were 165 cases of the new variant a day earlier.

The national capital on Tuesday registered a massive spike in daily Covid-19 with 496 fresh cases, the highest since June 4, while the positivity rate also rose to 0.89 percent along with one fatality.

Rise in active Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra ‘alarming’: Health Minister Rajesh Tope

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday expressed concern over the rise in the number of fresh as well as active Covid-19 cases in the state, and termed it as an “alarming situation”.

Talking to reporters here, Tope urged people and authorities to exercise caution. He said in the last 8-10 days, the active cases in the state stood in the range of 5,000-6,000.

On Tuesday, the state had 11,492 active cases. On Wednesday, the number of active cases could rise over 20,000, he said.

Mumbai A BMC health worker collects swab sample of an outstation passenger for COVID-19 test, at Dadar railway station, in Mumbai, Saturday, December 18, 2021. (PTI Photo)

“The rise in active cases in the state is alarming,” the minister said. He also expressed concern over the fast-doubling rate of cases in the state, and the rising number of infections in Mumbai.

Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Aditya Thackeray said that Mumbai may start reporting more than 2,000 daily cases. “Last week we were reporting 150 cases per day, now we are reporting around 2000 cases per day. Mumbai may cross 2000 per day cases today,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Karnataka CM likely to review Covid containment measures

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday indicated that he is likely to review the Covid-19 containment measures announced by his government, including the “night curfew”, in the wake of opposition from businesses.

The night curfew announced by the government for 10 days as part of its containment measures to control further Covid-19 spread, has come into effect across the state from Tuesday night.

It will be effective from 10 PM to 5 AM every day till January 7 morning, during which no activities will be allowed.

“I’m observing all of them, let’s see. After I go to Bengaluru tomorrow, I will take a decision in this connection,” Bommai said in response to a question by reporters here, regarding opposition to night curfew.

(With PTI inputs)

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