India's Omicron COVID tally crosses 1,000; states further tighten measures


Giving a break-up of the the 961 Omicron cases in the morning update, the Union Health ministry said Delhi accounted for 263 cases followed by Maharashtra at 252, Gujarat(97), Rajasthan(69), Kerala (65) and Telangana 62 from among the states with over 50 cases of the highly contagious variant. These were detected across 22 states and union territories so far.

Photo: ANI

Mumbai/Panaji: India's tally of the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID on Thursday crossed 1,000 on the back of Maharashtra reporting its highest single-day infection with the new strain, as states further tightened measures to deal with the surge in coronavirus cases.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, meanwhile, said Omicron is gradually spreading in the community and the variant of concern has been found in 46 per cent of the latest samples of regular COVID cases analysed in the national capital.

The Goa government has decided to test for COVID all international passengers, including those travelling from 'non-high risk' countries on their arrival at the airport while West Bengal is to suspend all direct flights from the UK and other 'high-risk' countries from January 3.

According to the latest data available from the Centre and the states in the night, the total number of Omicron cases in the country was around 1,200.

Maharashtra reported 198 new cases of the Omicron variant, including 190 in Mumbai alone, the state health department said in a release. With this, the tally of these cases in the state rose to 450.

Of the 198 Omicron cases reported by the National Institute of Virology(NIV) during the day, only 30 have recent international travel history, the release said.

While the daily rise in COVID cases crossed the 13,000 mark after around 49 days, the country also recorded the highest single day rise of Omicron infections with 180 fresh cases, taking the total of those infected with the new strain to 961, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated at 8 am. It was not clear whether the total number of COVID cases included the Omicron variant.

A 66-year-old South African of Indian origin and a 46-year-old doctor with no travel history were the first two persons in the country detected with the Omicron variant in Bengaluru on December 2.

Giving a break-up of the the 961 Omicron cases in the morning update, the Union Health ministry said Delhi accounted for 263 cases followed by Maharashtra at 252, Gujarat(97), Rajasthan(69), Kerala (65) and Telangana 62 from among the states with over 50 cases of the highly contagious variant. These were detected across 22 states and union territories so far.

Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health Lav Agarwal told a media briefing in Delhi on the COVID situation that as far as Omicron is concerned, 3,30,379 cases of the variant and 59 deaths have been reported across 121 countries.

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, he said.

Minister Jain said the latest genome sequencing report showed 46 per cent of the samples have Omicron and that these people include those who do not have any travel history. It means Omicron is now inside Delhi, he added.

"Indeed, the variant is gradually spreading in the community and its proportion will increase in the coming days," Jain told reporters in Delhi when asked if Omicron will be the dominant variant in a possible third wave of the pandemic.

The rising trend of people without a history of overseas travel contracting the Omicron variant was also witnessed in Mumbai.

According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the tally of Omicron-infected Mumbai residents without a history of overseas travel rose to 160 of the 290 people infected with the new strain in the country's financial capital.

Taking to Twitter, Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said in the wake of a surge in COVID cases, the state government has issued a circular.

"In view of the rising cases and as per the circular issued by Govt of Goa, we shall be testing all international passengers on arrival, travelling from high-risk countries as well as non-high risk countries,” Rane tweeted.

"Earlier, we tested only 2% of passengers travelling from non-high-risk countries. However, the Govt of Goa has now taken a decision in public interest to test all international passengers," the minister said in another tweet.

.West Bengal Home Secretary B P Gopalika wrote to the Union Civil Aviation ministry informing it about the state's decision on flight curbs due to the rising number of patients detected with the Omicron strain. The state has so far reported 11 cases of this variant.

"In view of the rising number of Omicron cases globally and as well as within the country, the state government has decided to temporarily and until further orders suspend all direct flights from United Kingdom to Kolkata from January 3, 2022.

" Flights, which is an at risk country as notified notified by MOHFW, Government of India, will not be allowed in the state and any NOCs which have been issued stand withdrawn," he wrote in a letter to Rajiv Bansal, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The Mumbai Police has prohibited New Year celebrations and gatherings in any closed or open space, including hotels and restaurants, an official said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (operations) S Chaitanya issued an order to this effect on Wednesday under Section 144 of the CrPC.

The order will be in force from Thursday till January 7, 2022, the official said.

The police order prohibits all New Year celebrations, programmes, functions and gatherings in any closed or open space, including hotels, restaurants, banquet halls, bars, pubs, orchestras, resorts, clubs and rooftops.

Haryana, meanwhile, reported 23 more cases of the Omicron variant, pushing the state's tally to 37, according to the health department's daily bulletin. This was the highest daily rise of the new variant in the state. PTI

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