NEW DELHI: Omicron is fast spreading to be the most dominant Covid-19 virus strain in India with the country’s genomic surveillance project for coronavirus showing its presence in over 22% samples collected from communities nationally.
The highest proportion of over 55% Omicron samples has been confirmed in Delhi and Maharashtra, the two states experiencing a near exponential rise in Covid cases, officials in INSACOG, a consortium of 38 laboratories for Covid surveillance, told this newspaper.
“The presence of Omicron is now being seen in over 1 in five samples undergoing whole genome sequencing daily. In several cities, mainly Delhi and Mumbai, it is already the dominant variant,” said a senior official in the National Centre for Disease Control. The NCDC under the union health ministry is overseeing the INSACOG project.
“The fact that Delta has already overtaken by Omicron so quickly in the big cities is yet another reminder of the fact that this highly transmissible virus will sweep the entire country within weeks. The ascent and descent will likely be much faster than the previous waves,” the official added.
As on Saturday, the country had confirmed 1,431 cases of Omicron with the highest tallies from Delhi and Maharashtra but a sharp rise in cases in several states is being attributed to Omicron already.
The country, overall, reported over 22,000 daily new infections on Saturday, marking a rise of over 35% over the previous days.
While there is growing evidence that Omicron may be milder than the Delta variant that caused a massive wave of Covid-19 infection last summer in India, authorities are worried that a sudden influx of too many patients in hospitals can still lead to a collapse of the health infrastructure.
This has led to advisories and guidelines by the Centre to states over the last few days suggesting rapid escalation in containment measures.