Omicron subvariant BA.2 may cause severe disease
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New Delhi: Amid a jump in Omicron cases in Delhi, doctors on Friday said people should avoid all gatherings and follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, else the pandemic situation may worsen given the highly transmissible nature of this variant of coronavirus.

Health experts and doctors treating Covid patients at leading government and private facilities in the city said a “sense of complacency” has again crept in among a large section of citizens despite witnessing the “horrors of the second wave” of Covid infections earlier this year.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Friday said 10 new cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in the national capital, taking the tally to 20. Ten of these patients have been discharged, he said.

The rise in cases of Omicron variant comes ahead of the Christmas and New Year, occasions which see massive gatherings of people in public and get-togethers at home.

The minister had on Thursday said many international travellers are turning out Covid positive upon arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

A couple of days earlier, he had said the Omicron variant of coronavirus has not spread in the community so far and the situation is under control.

Delhi’s first case of the Omicron variant — a 37-year-old man from Ranchi — was detected on December 5. He was discharged on Monday.

A senior doctor at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital, the nerve centre of Delhi’s fight against the pandemic since 2020, “all these remaining ten patients are asymptomatic” and aged in the region of 18-55.

“Omicron is highly transmissible. The first thing people need to do is avoid all gatherings of any form and follow all Covid-appropriate behaviour such as wearing masks, following social distancing, using sanitiser and not become lax at all,” she said.

Doctors at other government and private hospitals concurred that a similar complacency level among a larger section of citizens was seen just before the second wave.

“We saw the same laxity among people then and seeing it now again. Even though almost all families saw the death of near and dear ones or heard of someone losing their family members, we still haven’t learnt any lessons, it seems, sadly,” said Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, a senior consultant at Apollo Hospitals here.

He said in November he didn’t attend to any Covid case and in December it has increased to five to six patients daily on an average.

“The cases are mild. But it is a highly transmissible variant and people may still need admission. So, God forbid, if the situation repeats, our healthcare infrastructure will again be under strain,” Chatterjee said.

The doctor at Apollo hospital, himself a Covid survivor, emphasised that both the government authorities and people need to be “very pro-active” in battling the pandemic “with due seriousness”, which he felt was lacking at the moment.

Dr Richa Sareen, consultant, pulmonology at Fortis hospital here, said, “Either we learn from our past or be left to face again the horrors as we saw during the second wave.”

“People must realise that this Omicron is a highly transmissible variant and the situation in the West now will be mirrored here, as anticipated. All we can do is be prepared and not lower our guard when it comes to following Covid-appropriate behaviours,” she said.

“The first death due to Omicron variant of coronavirus has happened in the UK and it will be wise to gear up now before it’s late again,” Sareen added.

All the three doctors, however, said in terms of hospital admissions there is no jump as such “but the situation is being closely watched” as daily Covid cases also registered a big jump on Thursday.

The national capital recorded 85 cases on Thursday, the highest in over four months, while the positivity rate rose to 0.15 per cent.

At LNJP Hospital, where patients detected with Omicron variant are being kept in an isolated area, doctors said that resources and manpower are sufficient as of now but everyone is highly alert.

Two deaths due to coronavirus infection have been recorded in December so far, — December 6 and December 8. Seven COVID-19 deaths were reported in Delhi in November.

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