Omicron is gradually spreading in the community and the new, fast-spreading variant of concern has been found in 54 per cent of the latest samples analysed in 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 (GRAP) to check the spread of COVID-19 and the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) will decide on implementing more restrictions.
However, a statement from Jain’s office said, “According to GRAP, a Yellow alert has been issued in Delhi. For the time being, the government has decided not to issue a Level 2 alert. Alerts will be issued according to GRAP in Delhi.” It also said 54 per cent of the new cases in the capital have tested positive for the Omicron variant.
Earlier in the day, Jain had said, “The latest genome sequencing report showed 46 per cent of the cases have Omicron. These people include those who do not have any travel history. It means Omicron is now inside Delhi.” An official said the data was updated in the evening.
“Indeed, the variant is gradually spreading in the community and its proportion will increase in the coming days,” Jain said when asked if Omicron will be the dominant variant in an imminent third wave of the pandemic.
He also said of the 200 coronavirus cases in Delhi hospitals, only 102 belong to the city. Also, 115 patients are those who were directly taken to hospitals from the airport.
Of the hospitalised Covid patients in Delhi, 115 do not have any symptoms and have been kept in hospitals as a precautionary measure. None of the hospitalised patients is on oxygen support, Jain said.
The statement from the minister’s office said the Delhi government has decided to open four step-down Covid care centres at Teerapath Bhawan, Sardar Patel Covid Care Centre, Commonwealth Games Village and IBIS Hotel.
A step-down Covid Care Centre is used when a hospitalised patient’s health improves and he or she does not require medical attention at a hospital.
The patient is then sent to the step-down Covid Care Centre where he or she is looked after by healthcare workers. Each Covid Care Centre can cater to 100 to 500 patients.
The Delhi government has also issued instructions to all its hospitals to keep a buffer stock of medicines for three months, Jain said.
The Delhi health minister had on Wednesday said many international travellers who tested Covid-negative at the airport were found to be positive for the disease after a few days. During this period, they were infecting their family members.
“Delhi has imposed stringent curbs on gatherings including weddings and funerals, schools, gyms and spas have been closed, shops and malls will open on alternate days and metro trains and buses will operate at 50 per cent capacity… It is better to be precautious,” Jain said, adding “a decision on more restrictions will be taken at a DDMA meeting”.
He said countries like the US and France have recorded their highest number of daily cases amid the spread of Omicron but the good news is that it does not cause severe infection and very few patients need hospitalisation.
The DDMA had on Wednesday decided that Covid-related restrictions imposed in Delhi under the ‘yellow alert’ would continue for the time being and authorities would monitor the situation for a while before deciding on fresh curbs.
On Tuesday, it had declared a ‘yellow alert’ under the GRAP 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 GRAP is based on positivity rate (on two consecutive days), cumulative number of new cases (over a week) and average oxygenated-bed occupancy (for a week) for designated four levels of alerts.
After the ‘yellow alert’, further restrictions are imposed at advanced stages of ‘amber’, ‘orange’ and ‘red’ with a higher number of new cases and hospitalisations.
According to official figures, out of the 8,965 dedicated Covid beds, 262 or 2.92 per cent were occupied and 97 per cent were vacant on December 28.