COVID-19: No Reason To Worry until New ‘Variant Of Concern’ Detected, Says Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain

Gujarat reported its first XE variant case after a man from Mumbai tested positive for COVID-19 during his visit to Vadodara, a state official had said.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain

The Delhi government is keeping a watchful eye over the COVID-19 situation and there is no reason to worry until a new variant of concern is detected, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said on Monday.

Interacting with reporters here, the minister also sought to allay apprehensions over the steady rise in daily cases in Delhi and the positivity rate remaining over one per cent during the last few days.

“The count of daily cases in Delhi is being reported in the range of 100-200. We are keeping an eye on hospital admissions, and that is going down. Focus shouldn’t be on positivity rate much as of now,” Jain said.

Delhi reported 141 fresh Covid cases and one more death on Sunday, while the positivity rate stood at 1.29 percent, according to data shared by the city health department. The positivity report has been hovering above the one per cent-mark in the last few days.

Meanwhile, doctors cautioned on Monday that while daily cases have been rising a “sense of complacency has set in among the masses” in general especially after the mask mandate was removed.

“I do not foresee any new wave as long as we remain cautious, follow all Covid-appropriate behaviours and wear masks while being outside, especially in crowded places. But, I am seeing visuals on internet and reports that people are gathering in large numbers, and not many wearing mask, which would mean that cases could further rise,” said Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, internal medicine, Apollo hospital here.

The doctor also said that the city government should increase the number of Covid tests.

Positivity rate refers to the percentage of people who have tested positive among those overall tested.

A total of 10,939 COVID-19 tests were conducted in Delhi on Saturday, according to the Sunday bulletin.

Later in a statement, the Delhi health minister’s office quoted Jain as saying: “The XE variant is yet to be classified as a variant of concern. New variants of the virus are being discovered around the world almost every other day, and many more will emerge as time passes. We have to understand that unless a variant is deemed as a ‘variant of concern’ by the WHO, we need not be worried about it”.

“However, we still need to keep our guards up and follow the rules pertaining to the pandemic containment “, he said, while adding, the Delhi government has taken all necessary precautions beforehand to tackle any rise in cases.

The minister’s remarks on Monday came after Gujarat reported its first case of the XE variant of coronavirus.

The WHO has issued a warning against XE, a new variant of Omicron first detected in the UK, and suggested that it could be more transmissible than any COVID-19 strain so far.

The XE variant is a combination or recombinant of both sub-variants — BA.1 and BA.2 — of Omicron.

Jain said, “Everyday a new variant is getting generated as the virus is mutating”.

“The Delhi government is keeping a watchful eye over the COVID-19 pandemic situation. The World Health Organisation has not declared any new variant of concern. There is no reason to worry until a new variant of concern gets detected,” he said.

The genomic analysis of the COVID-19 XE variant sample from Gujarat is still underway and results are expected soon, Union health ministry sources had said on Saturday.

Gujarat reported its first XE variant case after a man from Mumbai tested positive for COVID-19 during his visit to Vadodara, a state official had said.

Before this, Mumbai civic body officials had said that a woman who had arrived from South Africa in February-end and tested positive in March has been infected by the XE variant, but the health ministry had not agreed.

The ministry had said that present evidence does not yet indicate that it is a case of the XE variant.

Responding to questions on the precautionary doses of Covid vaccine, Jain said all preparations are being made and all eligible people would get it.

On the lifting of the mask mandate, the minister said, “The cases have gone down substantially and the hospital admissions have followed suit as well. Only around 49 people were admitted into hospitals, which is a significant fall in numbers from around 150 people being admitted a month ago”.

“Also, don’t think it’s due to laxity as such. We have to understand that Covid is a pandemic of the century, after the Spanish Flu of 1918. We will have to learn to live with Covid,” he told reporters.

“There is no need to panic. The only way to prevent the virus from spreading is to take precautions and follow all the protocols related to Covid safety at all times,” he said.

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