India is likely to be facing its third COVID-19 wave, owing to the Omicron variant, as several states grapple to contain the infections. The Health Ministry says 2,135 cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected across 24 States and UTs. India has recorded 58,097 fresh COVID cases, 15,389 recoveries and 534 deaths in the last 24-hours.
The state of Maharashtra has detected 568 cases of the Omicron variant, while Delhi has reported 382 cases. These two states account for around half of all cases in India attributed to the new variant. Kerala, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu are in the top 10-most affected states by Omicron. They have recorded more than 100 cases.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has imposed a weekend curfew across Delhi -all forms of non-essential movement will be restricted. Buses and metro will be operating at full seating capacity to prevent overcrowding at bus stops and metro stations.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) will operate with 100% seating capacity without any standing passenger in compliance with the fresh guidelines. “In the wake of the latest guidelines issued by the DDMA, Delhi Metro will be running with the 100% seating capacity and no standing passenger will be allowed till further notice,” it tweeted.
It should be noted that Delhi is already under yellow alert as part of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) since December 28. As such, all educational institutions, gyms and cinemas are shut and a night curfew on all days between 10 pm and 5 am is in place.
The World Health Organization warned that soaring cases across the world could increase the risk of a newer and more dangerous variant emerging. It said that with Omicron spreading like wildfire, it appears to be less severe than initially feared. The global health body said this has raised hopes that the pandemic could be overcome and life return to more normality.
Catherine Smallwood, senior emergencies officer at WHO, believes the soaring infection rates could have the opposite effect. “The more Omicron spreads, the more it transmits and more it replicates, the more likely it is to throw out a new variant,” she explained. “Now, Omicron is lethal, it can cause death, maybe a little bit less than Delta, but who’s to say what the next variant might throw out.”