India witnessed a tremendous jump in daily Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, which has triggered the question – ‘Will this lead to a third wave?’

In India, new Covid-19 cases increased by 40 per cent in the last 24 hours. For the first time in 34 days, more than 10,000 people were found infected in a single day.

Nearly 7,000 new Covid-19 cases were found in India on December 25, and four days later, on December 29, this number climbed over 13,000. These figures indicate that there can be an explosion of coronavirus infections in the coming days.

The number of new patients has already risen by 86 per cent in Delhi and 82 per cent in Mumbai, the two cities that also account for the highest number of Omicron infections in the country. Therefore, it is likely that the highly transmissible Omicron variant is driving these daily cases.

India registered its first Omicron case on December 2, and after 28 days, the number of Omicron-infected patients has reached 961. The actual figures may be higher, as Omicron cases can only be detected after genome sequencing. It seems, from these figures, that the third wave of coronavirus is not far away.

The Cambridge tracker which provided apt information about the second wave in India has predicted that the third wave has already hit the country.  However, the tracker says that the third wave will not be very long and will be over by January end or the first week of February.

According to IIT Kanpur, India will see the peak of the third wave in the first week of February, during which a maximum of 1-2 lakh cases will be logged every day. However, IIT Kanpur also estimates that the third wave will last for one to one-and-a-half months unlike the deadly second wave that lasted for 3-4 months.

Govt Issues New Guidelines to Combat Threat of Omicron Variant

The govt has issued new guidelines regarding Omicron variant. The govt has asked states to speed up the testing process.

Maharashtra Omicron cases: 

In a major spike, Maharashtra on Thursday reported 5,368 new coronavirus infections and 198 cases of the Omicron variant, the state health department said. The day before, the state had recorded 3,900 new Covid-19 cases. The deaths of 22 coronavirus patients were reported on Thursday.

One of them, a 52-year-old man with a travel history to Nigeria who died of a heart attack on December 28, tested positive for Omicron on Thursday. But his death had nothing to do with the infection, the health bulletin said. The patient had been admitted to the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation’s Yashwantrao Chavan Hospital. He also had diabetes for the last 13 years, it said. The caseload of Covid-19 cases in the state rose to 66,70,754, while death toll reached 1,41,518. The number of active cases in the state rose to 18,217.

Coronavirus Outbreak in Bengal:

West Bengal’s fresh Covid-19 cases have nearly doubled in 24 hours with the state reporting 2,128 new infections on Thursday, a day after it registered 1,089 cases on Wednesday, which was the biggest single-day spike till yesterday. Of the fresh cases recorded on Thursday in the state, 1,090 are from Kolkata alone.

According to the West Bengal health department, the positivity rate in the state is currently at 5.47 per cent.

As reported by TOI, the state’s active “O-count” is now 15. All five latest additions have foreign travel history, with at least four of them—including a five-year girl now at AMRI hospital Mukundpur—coming from London.

Bengal suspends UK-Kolkata flights from Jan 3 over Omicron threat:

The West Bengal government, meanwhile, has decided to temporarily suspend direct flights arriving to Kolkata from the UK from January 3 due to the prevailing Omicron situation.

Flights from at-risk countries (as notified by the Government of India) will also not be allowed into the state. “All passengers coming from non-risk countries will have to mandatorily undergo Covid test on arrival (Airline to select 10% of the total passengers for RT-PCR test and the remaining 90% to undergo RAT test on arrival),” as per a statement issued by the government.

As Covid cases rise, Centre urges ‘heightened vigil’

India on Thursday reported 13,154 new Covid-19 cases, the number of active cases stood at 82,402 cases, while the death toll rose to 4,80,860.

Addressing a press conference on the Covid-19 situation in India on Thursday, the Union health ministry called for a heightened vigil amid the country reporting a spike in daily cases.

India’s R naught value, which indicates spread of Covid-19, is 1.22, the health ministry said on Thursday, warning that cases are increasing, not shrinking, as it highlighted that Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Karnataka and Gujarat were emerging as states and UTs of concern on the basis of weekly infections and positivity rate.

The health ministry informed that as many as eight districts are reporting weekly positivity rates of over 10 per cent; six in Mizoram, one in Arunachal Pradesh, and one in Bengal. While 14 districts are reporting a positivity rate between 5-10 per cent. The positivity rate in Kolkata is at 12.5 per cent.

Niti Aayog Member (Health) Dr VK Paul also said there has been an uptick in coronavirus cases since the last few days and some states are showing a trend which is going up.

“We believe on the scientific basis R0 is 1.22 as per the available data… so the cases are now increasing, not shrinking. As the scenario emerges, we believe what we are witnessing could be part of the global rise in cases pushed by the Omicron variant… we are already aware that this variant is highly transmissible and that perhaps explains the speed with which it is rising in the world.

“As we have explained, the severity issues are answered and we quote WHO statement — severity (is) hopefully mild but cannot be taken for granted. This is work in progress,” he said.

He, however, urged people not to panic, saying, “Because as a nation we are prepared. As a nation we have experience and the massive shield of very high coverage of the vaccine. I repeat, no need to panic. But there is a need to be prepared, to be responsible and disciplined. “

Several state governments have taken appropriate measures, Paul said, adding that all variants enter through the same route and that can be blocked by wearing a mask.

Stating that India reported more than 10,000 daily new Covid-19 cases after 33 days, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health Lav Agarwal stressed on the need for heightened vigil given the sharp increase in the infections being observed.

Covid-19 Cases in The State of Bihar:

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has said the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has already begun in Bihar. This comes after the state recorded 47 new Covid cases in the last 24 hours.

Earlier, on December 25, Nitish Kumar had ruled out the probability of bringing in restrictive measures in the state, amid rising cases of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus in the country, which led neighbouring states such as Uttar Pradesh to go in for night curfews.

Nitish said that Bihar is already in the midst of a third wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Bihar Chief Minister reportedly issued the warning while addressing the Indian Medical Association’s (IMA) 96th national conference.

Kumar, however, said that the Bihar government is fully prepared and doing everything to tackle the pandemic. He said that the state’s “health department is busy improving facilities at the hospitals as per the guidelines issued by the central and state governments.”

So far, Bihar has not detected a single case of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron, which was first identified in South Africa. But, the country’s overall Omicron tally has crossed the 700-mark.

The state is seeing a steady rise in Covid-19 cases. Currently, Bihar has 117 active cases of the Coronavirus, according to data. On Tuesday, the state government ordered the closure of parks from December 31 to January 2 due to Covid-19

Bihar Chief Minister had earlier on Saturday ruled out the probability of bringing in restrictive measures in the state, amid rising cases of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus in the country, which led neighbouring states such as Uttar Pradesh to go in for night curfews.

“Yahan abhi koi avashyakta nahin hain” (it is not needed here as of now) was the terse reply of Kumar when he was asked about night curfews being introduced by the Yogi Adityanath administration in UP.

Bihar adopted similar measures when Covid-19 first struck in 2020 and again earlier this year when the second wave of the infection caused devastation. The new variant, considered to be not very severe though highly contagious, has triggered fear of a fresh spike.

States such as Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, besides UP, have gone for measures like prohibitory orders and night curfews.