Omicron in 81 per cent of latest samples tested for Covid: Delhi health minister

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Monday said the latest genome-sequencing report shows that Omicron was found in 81 per cent of the samples tested for COVID-19 in the city and the new variant of concern is the reason behind the surge in the number of coronavirus cases in the capital.Of the latest 187 Covid […]

The capital has recorded around 4,000 new cases of coronavirus. (PTI Image)

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Monday said the latest genome-sequencing report shows that Omicron was found in 81 per cent of the samples tested for COVID-19 in the city and the new variant of concern is the reason behind the surge in the number of coronavirus cases in the capital.Of the latest 187 Covid samples tested, 152 (81 per cent) had Omicron and 8.5 per cent had Delta, Jain told the Delhi Assembly.

“So Omicron is the variant spreading now and the share of other variants is very low,” he said, responding to a question from Leader of Opposition Ramvir Bidhuri.Earlier in the day, Jain told reporters that Omicron accounted for 84 per cent of the latest Covid samples tested in Delhi.He also told the Assembly that none of the Omicron-infected patients admitted to the city hospitals had required oxygen so far.”Till Sunday, there were around 8,000 active cases in Delhi and just 3.4 per cent of the total 9,024 Covid beds in the hospitals were occupied. There were around 1,500 to 2,000 patients in the hospitals when Delhi reported an equal number of active cases the last time,” Jain said.

He added that more restrictions will be imposed if the bed occupancy rate goes up.The minister said Omicron came to India around December 1 through infected international passengers.”We conduct RT-PCR tests on all international passengers at the airport. Those who test positive are sent to institutional quarantine at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan hospital and some private hospitals,” he said.

“Some of the passengers who tested negative at the airport turned out positive at home after some days. Their entire families and contacts turned out Covid positive. So it is clear that Omicron spread when these people went home after testing negative at the airport,” Jain added.

He said the Delhi government has repeatedly requested the Centre to stop all international flights to prevent the spread of Omicron in the country, but the latter did not do so.”Everyone knew Omicron did not originate in India. It came from foreign countries. I repeatedly requested the Centre, the chief minister (Arvind Kejriwal) wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop all international flights. But they did not do so,” he said.

Jain said though there is a spike in the number of Covid cases, the situation is under control as not many people are developing severe symptoms or require hospitalisation.According to the health bulletin to be issued later in the day, the capital has recorded around 4,000 new coronavirus cases and the positivity rate has gone up to 6.5 per cent, he said.The minister stressed that the home isolation policy is very effective in Omicron cases as most of the patients do not have any symptoms.

A few of them have developed low-grade fever and cold but there has been no severe case due to Omicron.Jain also said Delhi is the first state to order a closure of schools and impose restrictions on gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, while other states have only imposed a night curfew.”People ask why Delhi has imposed such stringent curbs when no one else has done it. Delhi is the national capital and most of the international flights come to the city first. So it is better to have more restrictions here than anywhere else,” he said.

“We will implement more restrictions if the bed occupancy rate goes up,” the minister added.Delhi has administered at least one dose of the Covid vaccines to all eligible people aged above 18 years and 75 per cent of them have been fully vaccinated, he said, adding, “I think Delhi is at number one (position) in terms of vaccination.” The national capital added 3,194 new cases to its COVID-19 tally on Sunday with a positivity rate of 4.59 per cent, but the chief minister asked people not to panic, saying most patients are either asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms and do not need hospitalisation.

A positivity rate of more than five per cent for two consecutive days would trigger a “red” alert under the Delhi Disaster Management Authority-approved Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).It would lead to a “total curfew” and most economic activities would come to a halt.Sunday saw the highest single-day rise in the number of Covid cases since May 20 and it was 17 per cent higher than the 2,716 cases registered a day before.

The city also reported one more fatality due to the viral disease, taking the death toll to 25,109.Experts believe that a large number of the new cases were caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant of the virus.Sources in the government said the situation is being monitored closely and a decision to escalate the restrictions will be based on the bed occupancy rate. 

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