The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has started giving sleepless nights to several governments across the world and now the Centre has asked all states and Union Territories (UTs) to ‘activate’ war room. Asserting that this variant is at least three times more transmissible than Delta, the government has all administrations to be alert and analyse even small trends and surges in the number of new cases. They have been also asked to take strict and prompt action at district and local levels. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has written a letter to the states and UTs and has advised them to implement strategic interventions in order to contain the spread of the new variant.
Bhushan suggested measures like night curfew, strictly regulating large gatherings, curtail the number of people attending marriages and funerals. He also said that the focus should be on increasing testing and surveillance. The letter comes at a time when there are signs of a surge in cases of COVID-19 in several parts of the country. What is more worrying is that the new variant of concern Omicron is also being detected in different parts of India.
All states and UTs have also been directed to increase bed capacity and other logistics like ambulances, stocks of drugs. They have been also asked to strictly enforce home isolation as per existing guidelines. The letter clearly stated that the National Clinical Management Protocol has not been changed for Omicron.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has said that the Omicron variant is spreading faster than the Delta variant of the coronavirus. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the variant is causing infections in even those people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from the highly infectious disease. According to a recent report, Omicron has accounted for over 73 per cent of total reported cases in the United States. This is worrying because just a week ago, Omicron cases were just 3 per cent of total cases reported.
But there is some silver lining as well because the WHO team has said that 2022 would be the year that the COVDI-19 pandemic would end.