'People with no travel history infected with Omicron, variant spreading in community': Delhi health minister

Of the hospitalised Covid patients in Delhi, 115 do not have any symptoms and have been kept in hospitals as a precautionary measure, the minister said.

Published: 30th December 2021 11:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th December 2021 12:10 PM   |  A+A-

People shop from street vendors at a market with new guidelines where shops will be closed on odd-even formula following rise in the COVID-19 cases, in New Delhi. (Photo | AP)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Omicron is gradually spreading in the community and the new, fast-spreading variant of concern accounted for 46 per cent of the 115 Covid samples analysed in the national capital so far, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said on Thursday.

He said stringent curbs have been put in place as part of the Graded Response Action Plan for COVID-19 to check the spread of the infection and the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) will decide on implementing more restrictions.

"There are 200 coronavirus patients in Delhi hospitals. Genome sequencing of the samples of 115 patients showed 46 per cent had Omicron. These people include those who do not have any travel history. It means Omicron is now inside Delhi," Jain said.

"Indeed, the variant is gradually spreading in the community," the minister said.

He also said of the 200 coronavirus cases in Delhi hospitals, only 102 belong to the city.

Of the hospitalised Covid patients in Delhi, 115 do not have any symptoms and have been kept in hospitals as a precautionary measure, Jain said.

The Delhi health minister had on Wednesday said many international travellers who tested negative at the airport are found to be Covid positive after a few days.

During this period, they are infecting their family members, he said.

The DDMA had on Wednesday decided that Covid-related restrictions imposed in Delhi under the 'yellow alert' will continue for the time being and authorities will monitor the situation for a while before deciding on fresh curbs.

On Wednesday, It had declared a 'yellow alert' under the Graded Response Action Plan in the city amid a spike in coronavirus cases following the emergence of the Omicron variant.

The 'yellow alert' entails restrictions like night curfew, closure of schools and colleges, opening of shops selling non-essential items on an odd-even basis and halved seating capacity in Metro trains and buses, among other things.

The COVID-19 positivity rate in Delhi has jumped to 1.29 per cent from 0.19 per cent between December 23 and December 29, according to government data.

A similar trend was witnessed in the number of cases.

The number of Covid cases under the "cumulative new cases for last seven days" category jumped to 1,789 on December 28 from 698 on December 23.

The national capital has been witnessing a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases as well as the positivity rate for the last 10 days.

The city has also been witnessing a steady increase in the number of cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which stood at 238 on Wednesday.

According to the data, the positivity rate was 0.19 per cent on December 23 and it went up to 1.29 per cent on December 29 (Wednesday).

The data showed that the positivity rate climbed steadily over the last seven days.

On December 24, it reached 0.29 per cent and then jumped to 0.43 per cent on Christmas (December 25).

On December 26, the positivity rate went up to 0.55 per cent.

On December 27, it again breached the 0.5-per cent mark and stood at 0.68 per cent, prompting the Delhi government to announce a "yellow" alert and impose restrictions on certain activities on Tuesday (December 28).

On December 28, the city recorded 496 fresh Covid cases with a positivity rate of 0.89 per cent.

On Wednesday, the positivity rate breached the one-per cent mark and stood at 1.29 per cent with 923 fresh cases.

The data showed that the daily bed occupancy in the city also grew steadily between December 25 and 28.

On December 25, the daily bed occupancy was 221, which went up to 230 the next day.

On December 27, the daily bed occupancy was 266 and it climbed to 280 on December 28 (Tuesday).

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) sounded the "yellow" alert under its Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) on Tuesday, after the Covid positivity rate was recorded above 0.

5 per cent in the national capital for two consecutive days.

It 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.

A "yellow" (level-1) alert is sounded when the Covid positivity rate is recorded above 0.

5 per cent for two consecutive days or the number of fresh cases of the infection stays at 1,500 or above for seven days or the oxygenated-bed occupancy stays at 500 or above for seven days.

An "amber" alert under the GRAP is declared when the positivity rate is recorded at one per cent or above for two consecutive days.

The DDMA, at its meeting on Wednesday, decided that the Covid-related restrictions imposed in Delhi under the "yellow" alert will continue for the time being and the authorities concerned will monitor the situation for a while before deciding on fresh curbs.

About 38 per cent of the total samples analysed at various genome sequencing laboratories in Delhi in the past one week have been detected with Omicron variant of Covid, according to officials documents, as the cases of the new variant saw a record spike in this period in the national capital.

The documents shared by official sources also showed that of the 468 samples analysed during December 21-28, the Delta variant of coronavirus was detected in 31 per cent of these samples, and the rest constituted other variants.

These samples were analysed at labs at NCDC, ILBS and LNJP Hospital, the sources said.

A senior official in the South East district administration said that out of 14 Omicron cases, seven did not have any travel history.

The official also claimed that the new variant has been "spreading in the community", even as he didn't divulge any further details.

A senior doctor here, on the condition of anonymity, also claimed that Omicron variant of Covid has "begun to spread in the community" as its carriers are mostly asymptomatic, and hence they do not realise that they have been infected.

The person coming in contact also do not get cautioned in absence of symptoms, who in turn transmit it to family members and acquaintances, the doctor added.

India has recorded 781 cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus across 21 states and union territories so far out of which 241 people have recovered or migrated, according to Union health ministry data updated this morning.

Delhi recorded the maximum number of 238 cases followed by Maharashtra at 167, Gujarat 73, Kerala 65 and Telangana 62.

The cases of Omicron have reported a significant jump in the last one week, and in view of that, authorities in Delhi on December 22 decided to have genome sequencing done of all samples of daily COVID-19 cases to ascertain if the new variant has spread in the community.

At Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS), 125 samples were analysed between December 21-28, and over 53 per cent were detected with Omicron variant, and about 56 per cent with Delta variant, the sources said.

Sources at ILBS had on December 20 said that it had a capacity to handle about 1,000 samples per week.

The national capital on Wednesday recorded a whopping 923 fresh Covid cases, as the positivity rate again breached the 1 per cent-mark (1.29 per cent).

On Tuesday, the city had registered one death due to coronavirus infection and a massive single-day spike with 496 fresh cases, the highest since June 4, while the positivity rate was 0.89 per cent.



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