Conflicting Omicron data pushes government into action

Centre to review hospital infra, including status of oxygen devices

Published: 19th December 2021 06:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th December 2021 06:11 AM   |  A+A-

People in London queue for vaccination as Omicron cases spread rapidly

People in London queue for vaccination as Omicron cases spread rapidly | AFP

NEW DELHI: With conflicting global evidence emerging around Omicron’s virulence and top mandarins in the national Covid-19 task force warning that it could fuel a fresh corona virus surge in India, the union health ministry is scampering to guide states to step up hospital resources across the country. 

As part of the preparation, the government is set to review the hospital infrastructure with state governments soon and will also ask them for updated data on resources available, including the status of oxygen devices supplied since the devastating second wave of the pandemic, officials told TNIE.

The initiative comes as senior advisors to the government have cautioned that in the wake of the explosion of infections in Europe, the threat from Omicron should not be taken lightly.

A member of the national Covid-19 task force said the evidence from South Africa and Europe of Omicron’s capacity to spread fast and cause infections in prior Covid-19 patients and fully vaccinated people suggests the variant will likely also cause clusters and surges in India too.

“While early observations from South Africa, including real-world data, had earlier suggested that omicron infections are milder, conflicting reports are now arriving from several countries and therefore we have to be ready for the challenges ahead,” added the member. 

Initial reports from South Africa had said Omicron was mainly causing only mild cases, but a latest preliminary study by scientists at the Imperial College in London now says there was no evidence of Omicron cases being less severe than the Delta variant.

This indication, said researchers, was based on the proportion of people testing positive who had symptoms or went to the hospital. The team had analyzed all RTPCR test-confirmed Covid cases in the UK between November 29 and December 11, making it one of the most expansive examination yet of Omicron’s potential to evade the body’s defence.

“While there is no clear estimate on the extent of the possible surges, we do feel that we may be better prepared to deal with the cases this time,” a senior official told this newspaper, hinting at experiences from the massive summer wave when hospital infrastructure in most parts had nearly collapsed. “Of course, how bad the wave will be will largely depend on the local containment of the surges and, therefore, states have a very crucial role to play.” 

86 Covid cases in Delhi, most in 5 months

The national capital on Saturday recorded 86 fresh Covid cases, the highest in a day in over five months. The positivity rate stood at 0.13 per cent. With 12 new cases on Friday, the Omicron tally has swelled to 22 in Delhi.


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