Highlighting that 515 districts across the country have reported more than 5 per cent positivity rate in the last one week, the Health Ministry on Thursday said the third surge triggered by the highly infectious Omicron variant has spread to almost all parts of the country.
But, the ministry said, despite the surge, there have been fewer hospitalisations and deaths owing to high vaccination uptake.
The ministry said that a sharp surge in Covid-19 cases continues to be noted in India, with the weekly positivity rate touching almost the 16% mark in the last one week. “The pandemic situation shows that the third surge is now spreading in almost all parts of the country,” Dr V K Paul, head of India’s Covid-19 task force, said. “It is also clear that deaths are low. Vaccination has acted as a shield…the mortality is significantly low…. However, the overall positivity of 16% is quite high.”
He said, “There are some states with 50% percent positivity (Goa)…the virus is spreading rapidly. Vaccination and masking have to be adopted. We cannot lower the guard.”
The ministry said in the week ending January 19, 515 districts reported positivity rate, compared to 335 districts in the week ending January 12.
A key factor
April 30 last year saw 3.86 lakh new cases reported; there were around 3,000 deaths. During April 1 to 30, only 2% people were vaccinated. On January 20, there were 3.17 lakh new cases and 380 deaths reported. At present, 72% adults are completely vaccinated. Fewer hospitalisations and deaths despite high cases is due to high vaccination, according to Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan.
The ministry flagged that six states continue to remain areas of concern due to an increase in the weekly positivity rate in week ending January 20, compared to the weekly positive rate reported in the week ending January 13: Maharashtra (20.35% vs 22.12%, respectively); Karnataka (6.78% vs 15.12%); Tamil Nadu (10.70% vs 20.50%); Kerala (12.28% vs 32.34%); Delhi (21.70% vs 30.53%), and Uttar Pradesh (3.32% vs 6.33%).
“These are the states with whom we are in continuous contact and we are reviewing the situation. We have sent Central teams to these states. The health administration of the states have been briefed,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.
Bhushan also emphasised that the symptoms have been milder during the current surge. “Around 99% adults have fever, with or without rigors (shivering), cough, and irritation in throat, and usually by fifth day the symptoms are resolving,” he said.
Paul, however, reiterated, that even in the “relatively low mortality phase”, people with comorbidities and the elderly continue to remain vulnerable.
Dr Balaram Bhargava, director general, Indian Council of Medical Research, said, “The overall test performance in the country is being maintained at a level comparable with the second wave. What is important to note is that we have noted an increasing uptake of home tests…”