Govt, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Govt, Health News, ET HealthWorld

India tackled Omicron driven surge well, caution still necessary: GovtNew Delhi : The World Health Organisation (WHO) has sounded the alarm over a global spike in COVID-19 cases, despite reduced testing and several weeks of declining infections. Western Europe seeing a surge in caseloads in recent times — Germany is even calling the situation critical — and this has put the US health authorities on alert for a new wave. The Union Health Ministry of India Thursday informed though country had witnessed a very mild third wave due to the Omicron variant that was first detected in November 2021 in the Gauteng Province of South Africa a high level of alertness is necessary.

As on Thursday with 3,536 cases reported on an average in the week ending March 15, India contributed to only 0.21 per cent of global cases, the Union Health Ministry said. Active cases in the country are on the decline but the Union Health Ministry informed that the fight against COVID-19 is far from over.

In a meeting on India’s Public Health Response COVID-19 meeting with NGOs assessed the COVID-19 situation in the country, the Union Health Ministry shared the statistics of how Omicron was tackled in the country.

The Ministry informed that Omicron posed the risk of high transmissibility and possible vaccine escape, due to these characteristics, a sharp surge in cases was noted across all countries and continents. As it has a substantial growth advantage over Delta as it has 10 times more mutations on the spike protein.

Highlighted that the Prime Minister chaired a high-level review meeting to understand the implications of the new variant on November 27, 2021. Several meetings were held at the centre and states to address the third wave head-on. Travel guidelines, home isolation guidelines, testing guidelines, advisory for managing healthcare workers in COVID and non-COVID were revised and issued to address the rising number of cases and keep the spread of infections in check.

Cited that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) issued various guidelines to curb the spread and continued with its two-pronged approach – containment coupled with mitigation. India managed the Omicron surge much better than the global scenario. India reported a sharper decline in cases reported 98.9 per cent as compared to the world 50.3 per cent. With 3,536 average cases reported in the week ending March 15, 2022, India contributed to only 0.21 per cent of global cases. On average 5,632 deaths are being reported daily across the world. India reported a sharper decline in deaths reported 95 per cent as compared to the world’s 47.8 per cent.

Even though the third wave in India was mild as compared to the impact it has had globally, the ministry stressed timely vaccination, wearing of face masks and adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour continues to be the new normal.

China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, South Korea are among the South-East Asian countries witnessing a rise in COVID-19 cases. The spike in COVID-19 cases is due to the Omicron sub-lineage BA.2, which appears to be more transmissible than the original strain, BA.1, and is fuelling this outbreak, as well as the worldwide trend towards relaxing COVID-19 protocols.

According to Maria van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Technical Lead, WHO more than 11 million cases have been reported to the UN body in the last week. This is an 8 per cent increase over the preceding week.

Keep in mind that the pandemic is neither over, nor has it “settled down into a purely, seasonal or predictable pattern”, as Mike Ryan, Executive Director, Health Emergencies Programme, WHO put it.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO told a press briefing that globally increasing cases despite reduced testing “means the cases we are seeing are just the tip of the iceberg.”

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