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Covid numbers plateauing but keep guard up, says Health Minister

by Vaishali Sharma

Experts note that while India’s Covid trajectory in the present Omicron surge appears to be on the decline, the high positivity rate indicates that the wave has yet to turn a corner. For the previous three days, nationwide cases have been below 300,000, much below the peak of 414,000-plus daily recorded cases during the second wave, while daily positive reached 19.59 percent on Thursday.

A cautiously optimistic health ministry said on January 27 that there are early indications of a plateauing of cases in certain geographies. “The trend needs to be observed and required precautions need to be continued,” the health ministry said.

The top 10 states in terms of active cases make for more than 77 per cent of the total active cases in the country, according to government data.

With home antigen tests gaining popularity like never before, revised guidelines that limit the testing of asymptomatic individuals have meant that a large number of cases are going undetected or unreported. This has made it difficult for epidemiologists to detect a peak as well.

That said, experts believe Omicron in itself is a different pandemic, unlike all the previous waves. Some experts have suggested two sets of possible peaks in India for the Omicron variant — first in the urban areas followed by a dip in the number of cases and then a peak in the rural areas.

“This wave will not follow the traditional bell-shaped epidemiological curve in India, unlike other parts of the world because of the change in norms and also the way the virus is behaving now… By the end of February, we’ll see a decline in the peak,” said Chandrakant Lahariya, epidemiologist and public policy expert.


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