Omicron's community spread can 'overwhelm' hospitals

Community spread of Omicron can overwhelm hospitals: Experts

The elderly and those having comorbidities are at serious risk, experts said

A crowd of passengers at Hatia railway station, amid concern over rising Omicron cases, in Ranchi. Credit: PTI Photo

Senior doctors in Delhi on Thursday warned that though the data collected so far suggests that the Omicron variant of coronavirus causes mild infection, there is a need to remain watchful as a community spread can still strain hospitals.

The elderly and those having comorbidities are at serious risk, they said.

Earlier in the day, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said 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 the national capital.

He also said that the variant will only spread further in the coming days.

Dr Piyush Jain, Medicine Department, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, said, "Data from some foreign countries shows that the Omicron variant causes mild infection in most of the cases. But we do not have the data from India yet."

However, it can still put the elderly and those having comorbidities at serious risk.

Dr Jugal Kishore, head of community medicine at Safdarjung Hospital said people who are "immunocompromised, or have HIV or secondary infections need to take care of themselves and not step out... take regular medications and monitor their sleep cycle."

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

Sumit Ray, head of department of Critical Care Medicine at Holy Family Hospital said the sheer number of Omicron cases can overwhelm hospitals.

"We have to be watchful. In South Africa, there have been fewer hospitalisations (due to Omicron). Most of the hospitalisations in other foreign countries are because of Delta. But if the number of infections is 2 lakh per day, like in France, and the hospitalisations due to Omicron are one-seventh or one-eighth of that number, it's a fairly high number," he said.

Delhi on Thursday recorded 1,313 new Covid-19 cases, the highest single-day rise since May 26, while the positivity rate mounted to 1.73 per cent, according to health department data.

According to Union health ministry data updated on Thursday, India recorded the highest daily rise of 180 Omicron cases, taking the total tally of such infections in the country to 961.

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