Is India about to face third wave of Covid-19 due to rise in Omicron cases?

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New variant of Covid-19 Omicron, has started escalating its cases in India, shortly after it was acknowledged by authorities of World Health Organization. Until now, 266M people worldwide have been infected by Corona Virus and nearly 5.2M have been killed. Omicron cases in India has reached over 20 cases in different states, including New Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra. The first two cases were reported in Karnataka, out of which one is a South African National. More likely, all the reported cases were travelling from out of India.

Countries like Japan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, alongside two dozen countries have recorded new variant Omicron cases. A designate variant ‘B.1.1.529’ was called a variant of concern by WHO on 26 January 2021, that later came as Omicron. According to WHO, the variant is ‘concerning’ as it has capability of having large number of mutations. In an advisory given by WHO to countries, it says – keep applying ‘evidence-informed and risk-based’ approach when implementing travel measures in accordance with the International Health Regulations (IHR). National authorities in countries of departure, transit, and arrival may apply a multi-layered risk mitigation approach to potentially delay or reduce the exportation or importation of the new variant. Blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread but will have heavy burden on lives and livelihoods. Countries should keep sharing their public health rationale, unvaccinated people, unwell and people with no Covid infection proof before are at higher risk, are some of them.

Dr. Shipra took her time out to discuss Omicron severity and how serious it could get from carelessness. She told Eat News. ‘We all were aware about the third wave. We even considered the situation and was on alert during and after Diwali since the festival comes with crowd gatherings, but due to vaccination drive, somehow our country avoided that phase. Now the new variant has arrived with higher number of mutations, which needs to be kept in mind.’ According to the government sources, Health officials are closely monitoring the situation of omicron cases in India and has informed Parliamentary panel, regrading the same.

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‘Yes, our hospitals are informed and we have started the arrangements of building new Covid centers in hospital itself. The hospital authorities are also planning to increase the staff, so that we won’t be with shortage of healthcare workers, if required I future,’ said Dr. Shipra. Maharashtra has the higher number of Omicron cases with 10, then Rajasthan with 9. Keeping in mind the rise in cases, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has decided to keep the stay on decision to suspend international passenger flights till 31 January 2022. Omicron cases in India has increased quickly in a week, that convinced center to and other authorities to stick with the decision.

Dr. Shipra thinks, panic is not the solution instead people should act smart and wise. ‘Lot of people started panicking, after hearing about Omicron. Covid-19 virus will have diverse variants, out of which some will have extreme symptoms than others. But all of them will have same measures to keep oneself immune and safe. Wear your masks properly, with your nose and mouth covered. Carry your hand sanitizers whenever you go out. Avoid crowded places and try to have a distance with others. Because we are still in a problematic situation, where you don’t know when it can get worse. Fear anyway will not help you, rather staying strong and safe,’ she said.

As the Omicron is the variant of Covid-19, are the symptoms similar or are different, to which Dr. Shipra said, ‘Yes, definitely as the variant is of the same virus, symptoms are quite similar but studies and researches has identified some other symptoms too. Cough, fever, weakness, loss of smell and taste are its symptoms but alongside, sore throat, diarrhoea, rash on skin, discoloration of fingers and toes, headache, breathlessness, chest pain are some others too. if anyone is going through from any of these symptoms, then go to your near doctors and get yourself check, immediately.’

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Is India expecting third wave, sooner? According to the experts, the month of February will record highest cases and the month will have its peak. But in the opinion of Dr. Shipra, she is still ambivalent. She said, ‘Regarding the third wave, I am still not sure. Because our country faced mass gatherings during the festival season from September to November and the cases as we expected to come out were totally opposite. And it is due to the vaccination drive. Since most of the population is vaccinated and has immune their bodies partially, we as a country came out of that scenario easily. Here I feel the same. The severity is not confirmed yet and no deaths reported from this variant, so far. Vaccination drive is going at its own needed pace, so I third wave is still not coming into my mind, but yes we as healthcare workers are on alert and have started working on this state of condition.’    

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Shefali Ranawat is an Eat News correspondent in India. She want to be the voice of people. Also, she aim to be a war correspondent.

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