Covid-19: Maharashtra, West Bengal and Delhi emerging as states/UTs of concern

It said that eight districts are reporting over 10 per cent weekly positivity, while 14 districts are reporting between 5-10 per cent positivity
Last Updated : 30 December 2021, 16:48 IST

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India's R naught value, which indicates the spread of Covid-19, is 1.22, the government said on Thursday, warning that cases are increasing, not shrinking, as it highlighted that Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Karnataka and Gujarat were emerging as states and UTs of concern on the basis of weekly infections and positivity rate.

Addressing a press conference, NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr V K Paul said there has been an uptick in coronavirus cases since the last few days and some states are showing a trend that is going up.

India recorded the highest single-day rise of Omicron infections with 180 fresh cases, taking the total tally of such infections in the country to 961, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.

Delhi recorded the maximum number of 263 cases followed by Maharashtra at 252, Gujarat 97, Rajasthan 69, Kerala 65 and Telangana 62.

The daily rise in Covid-19 cases crossed the 13,000 mark after around 49 days, taking the total tally to 3,48,22,040, while the active cases increased to 82,402, according to the data updated at 8 am.

"We believe on the scientific basis R0 is 1.22 as per the available data... so the cases are now increasing, not shrinking. As the scenario emerges, we believe what we are witnessing could be part of the global rise in cases pushed by the Omicron variant... we are already aware that this variant is highly transmissible and that perhaps explains the speed with which it is rising in the world.

"As we have explained, the severity issues are answered and we quote WHO statement -- severity (is) hopefully mild but cannot be taken for granted. This is work in progress," he said.

He, however, urged people not to panic, saying, "Because as a nation we are prepared. As a nation, we have experience and the massive shield of very high coverage of the vaccine. I repeat, no need to panic. But there is a need to be prepared, to be responsible and disciplined. "

Several state governments have taken appropriate measures, Paul said, adding that all variants enter through the same route and that can be blocked by wearing a mask.

Stating that India reported more than 10,000 daily new Covid-19 cases after 33 days, the Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health Lav Agarwal stressed the need for heightened vigil given the sharp increase in the infections being observed.

Agarwal said eight districts in India are reporting more than 10 per cent Covid-19 weekly positivity, while 14 districts are reporting a weekly positivity between 5 per cent to 10 per cent.

Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Karnataka and Gujarat are emerging as states and UTs of concern on the basis of weekly cases and positivity, he said.

The government said 90 per cent of India's adult population has been administered the first dose of the vaccine and 63.5 per cent of people are now fully vaccinated.

ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said durability of immunity after vaccination persists for nine months or more and added that a precautionary dose will be administered to healthcare and frontline workers, and citizens above 60 years with comorbidities, mitigating the severity of infection, hospitalisation and death.

Bhargava said the durability of immunity post-infection persists for about nine months and added that hybrid immunity, which is developed as a result of vaccination and natural infection, mounts a stronger response and robust antibody titres after the second dose.

The government said that masking before and after vaccination is a must. It said that earlier and currently circulating strains of coronavirus spread through the same routes and added that treatment guidelines for the infection remain the same.

A surge in cases is being noted globally, with the US, the UK, France and Spain contributing to 58 per cent of Covid-19 cases last week, Agarwal said.

As far as Omicron is concerned, 3,30,379 cases of the variant and 59 deaths have been reported across 121 countries, he said.

Agarwal said 961 cases of Omicron have been detected across 22 states and UTs so far.

Quoting the WHO, he said consistent evidence shows the variant has a growth advantage over Delta, with a doubling time of 2-3 days. A rapid increase in the incidence of cases has been seen in a number of countries, including those where the variant has become the dominant one, such as the UK and the US.

On poll rallies, Paul said, "We have emphasised the preventive measures that protect us against infection and protect the spread of infection are applicable

Responding to whether the health system can collapse, he said the WHO has said as per the trends seen in the last 3-4 weeks taking cognisance of that and the epidemiological principles and science that has emerged from it.

The global surge is more than previous surges. Knowing the behaviour of the virus, there is a warning that the entire world is still facing delta, but several parts have yet not faced it and then there is a new variant which brings in greater complexity, transmissibility and other issues, Paul said.

"So there is a warning that all nations, societies, families should be alert, well prepared. It is also the same message we are trying to transmit, so be prepared that this surge could be significant, be prepared that it necessarily be mild, and be prepared that the health system and facilities are ready for the maximum possible level. These are the messages we received from WHO and these are the messages we have tried to transmit," he said.

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Published 30 December 2021, 14:00 IST

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