Centre flags uptick in Covid cases after Omicron scare

Centre flags uptick in Covid-19 cases after Omicron scare; calls for prompt action

Karnataka is among states nudged by Centre over rising cases of coronavirus

Health care worker collects sample to check for Covid-19 in Bengaluru. Credit: IANS Photo

Citing Omicron concerns, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Saturday shot off letters to top health officials of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Jammu & Kashmir, Odisha and Mizoram, flagging the increase in weekly cases in past one week and asking them to take measures to control the spread of infection and reduce fatalities.

In the missive to Principal Secretary Karnataka T K Anil Kumar, the health secretary drew the state government's attention towards the "slight increase" in cases in the last one week in the state and cited figures for four districts in particular -- Tumakuru, Dharwad, Bengaluru Urban and Mysuru -- where the difference in the percentage of cases went up to 152.17 per cent, 20.92 per cent, 19.16 per cent and 16.49 per cent respectively in the week from November 26 to December 2 as against the preceding week from November 19 to November 25.

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In Tumakuru, it went up to 116 cases from just 46, while it was 185 in Dharwad from 153 recorded in the previous week. The new cases in Bengaluru Urban between November 26 and December 2 were 1,424 as against 1,195 between November 19 and November 25. Mysuru, which had recorded 188 cases in the week previous to it, saw the spike to 219 cases in the week ending December 2.

Bhushan noted that the increase in weekly new deaths has been noted in Bengaluru Urban from eight new deaths in the week ending November 25 to 14 in the corresponding week ending December 2.

Flagging the total increase in weekly cases to 2,272 from 1,664 cases of the previous week and weekly deaths to 29 from 22 over the same period in Karnataka, the Health Secretary called for necessary steps to contain it. Karnataka has reported 8,073 new cases in the month ending December 3.

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In the letter to the states, the health secretary also drew the attention of the authorities towards the ministry's November 27 missive in the context of the new variant of concern, Omicron after which all the states have been advised to undertake enhanced surveillance of international travellers, continued monitoring of emerging hotspots, prompt and comprehensive contract tracing of positive individuals and sending all positive samples for genome sequencing quickly to INSACOG labs.

In identical letters to other states, he flagged rise in cases in Thrissur, Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kollam in Kerala, Chennai, Thiruvallur and Vellore in Tamil Nadu, Dhenkanal, Kandhamal, Nabarangpur, Kendujhar Angul and Balangir in Odisha, Jammu, Baramulla, Ganderbal and Kathua in J & K and Saiha, Khawzawl, Serchhip and Mamit in Mizoram.

Of the districts where the health secretary flagged the rise in the weekly number of cases, Kathua in Jammu & Kashmir is seen recording a whopping 726 per cent rise in cases, Dhenkanal in Odisha recorded a weekly rise of 666.7 per cent followed by Kandhamal with 250 per cent. Saiha in Mizoram saw a 237.9 per cent rise in case of numbers from the previous week.

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Kerala has reported 1,71,521 new cases in the month ending December 3 with a contribution of a whopping 55.8 per cent of India's new cases from over the past month. Thirteen out of 14 districts in Kerala are reporting a high quantum of weekly new cases in the state. Districts of concern in the week ending December 2 in the state are Thiruvananthapuram (5,541), Ernakulam (4,976), Kozhikode (3,676), Thrissur (2,903) and Kottayam (2,478). Four districts showing high weekly positivity rates of more than 10 per cent are Thiruvananthapuram (11.61 per cent), Wayanad (11.25 per cent), Kozhikode (11 per cent) and Kottayam (10.81 per cent). Nine districts of Kerala are reporting a weekly positivity rate between 5 per cent and 10 per cent.

Moreover, Kerala has reported an increase in weekly new deaths to 2,118 in the week ending December 3 from 1,890 in the week previous to it. Thrissur saw the jump in mortality from just 12 to a whopping 128 and Malappuram from 70 to 109 in the same period. Kozhikode and Kollam recorded a decline in mortality, though.

Tamil Nadu reported 23,764 cases in the month ending December 3. Vellore saw a rise from 93 to 128 cases, Thiruvallur from 117 to 136 and Chennai from 845 to 981.

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India's Active caseload currently stands at 99,974 and they account for less than 1 per cent of total cases, currently at 0.29 per cent, which is the lowest since March 2020. While the daily positivity rate is 0.69 per cent, less than 2 per cent for the last 61 days, the weekly positivity rate is 0.81 per cent, less than 1 per cent for the last 20 days.

Hence clearly the spike in cases in some regions in the last week has raised the alarm bells within the government.

In the letter, the health secretary further flagged that 8 out of 11 districts of Mizoram are showing higher positivity rates than 10 per cent. They are Champhai, Serchhip, Saitual, Saiha, Hnahthial, Mamit, Lunglei and the state capital Aizawl.

Mizoram has reported 12,562 new cases in the last 30 days in the month ending December 4 with a contribution of 4.1 per cent to India's new cases from over the past month. Of this, the health secretary pointed out that the state capital Aizawl is reporting a high quantum of weekly new cases with 1,079 new cases reported in the week ending December 3.

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