Omicron Is Not Common Cold, Should Not Be Taken Lightly, Says Govt

New Delhi: The Centre said the Omicron Covid variant was not common cold and should not be taken lightly. Addressing a media briefing, Niti Aayog member (Health) Dr VK Paul said it was important to get vaccinated and follow Covid-appropriate behaviour.

“Omicron is not common cold, it is our responsibility to slow it down. Let’s mask up and get vaccinated, whoever is due. It’s fact they (vaccines) are helpful to an extent. Vaccination critical pillar of our Covid response,” Dr VK Paul said.

Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, said there have been 115 confirmed deaths globally due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant and one death in India.

“Omicron has a substantial growth advantage over Delta as per WHO. Data from South Africa, UK, Canada, Denmark suggests a reduced risk of hospitalisation for Omicron compared to Delta,” he said.

READ | Hospitalisation Rate Has Stablisied, Covid Cases Plateaued: Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain

The Union Health Ministry said a sharp surge in Covid-19 cases was noted in India, with Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Prdaesh, Kerala and Gujarat emerging as states of concern.

Lav Agarwal said case positivity rate has risen from 1.1% on December 30 to 11.05% on January 12. Agarwal said 19 states have over 10,000 active Covid cases.

“Currently, 300 districts in India are reporting weekly case positivity of more than 5%. Maharashtra has a positivity rate of 22.39%, West Bengal 32.18% and Delhi 23.1%,” he said.

The Health Ministry has revised the discharge policy with severity categorised into mild and moderate cases.

“Mild cases to be discharged after at least seven days from testing positive and non-emergency for three successive days. No need for testing prior to discharge,” Lav Agarwal said.

“For moderate cases, if there is resolution of symptoms and patient maintains oxygen saturation greater than 93% for three successive days (without oxygen support), such patient will be discharged,” he further said.

Stressing on the importance of getting inoculated, Agarwal quoted the WHO to say that vaccine effectiveness against hospitalisation appears to be substantially higher than against symptomatic Covid-19 disease.

India added 1,94,720 new infections to its tally of Covid-19 cases, pushing it to 3,60,70,510, according to the Union Health Ministry data on Wednesday. 

Active cases have increased to 9,55,319, the highest in 211 days. The death toll has climbed to 4,84,655, with 442 fresh fatalities.

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