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1 Confirmed Case of Omicron in Delhi; Govt Focus on Preventing Community Spread of Virus: Satyendar Jain

Delhi has only one “confirmed” case of Omicron, which was found out after 17 of the 27 people brought to LNJP Hospital tested positive of Covid-19, and 12 samples were sent for genome sequencing. All 11 tested Omicron negative while one was positive, Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said on Monday. The report of five more suspected cases is awaited.

Jain said the condition of the patients admitted to Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital is stable with some having no symptoms at all. It would take two to three days before the genome sequencing results of the other five of the 17 Covid positive cases would be known.

On the possibility of new restrictions being imposed in Delhi in the face of the threat posed by Omicron, Jain pointed out that Delhi has already placed a graded response system whereby restrictions would be in pace once the various thresholds in positivity rate, daily case count, bed occupancy is crossed. In August, Delhi had put the ‘Corona Graded Response Action Plan,’ which identified four levels or thresholds ‘orange’, ‘yellow’, ‘amber’ and ‘red,’ which when breached would see various curbs swinging in.

“In Delhi, we already have the graded response system where in 0.5% positivity rate is the first benchmark. As of now, the positivity rate is below 0.5% since the past five months. Positive cases hover around 40 to 50 to 60. As soon as we cross the 0.5% positivity rate, restrictions will swing in. 0.5%, 1.0% and 2.0% are the major landmarks. We have already declared the kind of restrictions that would be imposed when these thresholds are crossed,” Jain said.

Level 1 or the orange threshold is when the positivity rate breaches 0.5% for two consecutive days, or 1,500 fresh cases are reported in just one week or oxygenated bed occupancy touches 500. Maximum curbs are imposed when Delhi crosses the red alert or level -4 when positivity rate is above 5% and continues for two consecutive days, 16,000 fresh cases are reported in a week or oxygenated bed capacity touches the 3,000 mark.

The Delhi government is focusing on avoiding a community spread of the highly mutable Omicron variant, vaccination of 100% of those eligible and gearing up for a possible third wave, the minister stressed. “100% of the people arriving from affected countries are being tested, positive cases are immediately isolated. The effort is to prevent a community spread at any cost,” Jain said.

The minister further urged people to strictly follow Covid rules of wearing masks, social distancing. “Even if you are vaccinated, do not let your guard down. Even after vaccination, you must protect yourself. All must wear masks,” he said.

Jain appealed to the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated people to take their shots “as soon as possible”. Delhi has more than 93% of the eligible adults administered with the first dose while around 60% are fully vaccinated.

Vaccination may not prevent one from contracting the Omicron variant, however, it may prevent the person from slipping into the ‘serious’ category. The minister also said he believed the “easy way” to stop the new variant is to ban international flights from risk countries.