Coronavirus Live News: India’s Omicron COVID count jumped to 126 on Saturday after Karnataka and Kerala reported six and four cases, respectively, while three other people in Maharashtra also tested positive for the variant. According to central and state officials, cases of omicron have been detected in 11 states and union territories – Maharashtra (43), Delhi (22), Rajasthan (17) and Karnataka (14), Telangana (8), Gujarat (7), Kerala (11), Andhra Pradesh (1), Chandigarh (1), Tamil Nadu (1) and West Bengal (1).
While the first two cases of the country’s Omicron variant were detected in Karnataka on December 2, this highly mutated version of the coronavirus was first reported in South Africa on November 24.
The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been reported in 89 countries and the number of cases is doubling within 1.5 to 3 days in areas of community transmission, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday. Omicron is spreading rapidly in countries with high population immunity, but it is not known whether this is due to the virus’s ability to evade immunity, its inherent increased transmissibility, or a combination of the two, WHO said in an update. The agency named Omicron as a variant of concern on November 26, shortly after it was first detected, and little is still known about it, including the severity of the illness it causes.
With the number of Omicron cases rising rapidly in the country, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) appealed to avoid non-essential travel and mass gatherings, and to observe low intensity festivities. “Local restrictive measures” are to be implemented in 24 districts in seven states, including nine in Kerala and eight in Manipur, with a weekly test positivity rate above 5%. The Center also warned that it is likely that the spread of the new variant will overtake the Delta variant where there is community transmission. It comes as Omicron’s tally in India surpassed 100 cases on Friday, after recording the largest daily increase of 24 new cases and affecting 11 states and UTs across the country.