Is appearance of Omicron in India the first signs of the third wave?
India is once again staring at the face of another pandemic wave. Despite assurances by medical and healthcare experts that the impact would be less severe than the two preceding waves, global reports seem to suggest otherwise.
It all started with the discovery of a new variant in Botswana and South Africa. What followed was a chain of events that had the entire world at the edge of their seats. The newest strain has been famously dubbed ‘Omicron’. India is one of the 108 countries that has reported increasing cases of the Omicron variant. On December 29, a 44 percent jump in daily COVID cases was recorded prompting experts to state that this increase may very well be the third wave.
While expert opinions vary on the nature of the new variant, most have agreed that a majority of the new cases would be mild compared to the Delta variant. The surge in COVID infections driven by Omicron in India has elicited a swift response from many states. Most have already issued soft measures like night curfews to arrest the spread of infection. Delhi NCR, Maharashtra, and Karnataka are the three states that have recorded the highest cases with Delhi already under a Yellow Alert, Level 1 of the Graded Response Action Plan.
The surge in new cases is something that was expected given the high transmissibility rate of the Omicron variant. The National COVID-19 Supermodel Committee stated that the daily caseload will only increase once Omicron replaces Delta as the dominant variant. This is why the US and UK are facing a record surge in cases as Omicron becomes the dominant strain.
As per research and studies conducted by various institutes and subject experts, the surge is predicted to be short-lived. IIT-Kanpur conducted a study that showed the third wave peaking around February 2022. According to the study, the rise in cases building up to this peak should have started by December 15 and that seems to be the case. The total number of Omicron cases in India stands at 961 currently and is well on its way up.
The Government, meanwhile, has asserted that the country is prepared for the third wave. After experts cautioned against the inevitable third wave, the Centre took appropriate measures to prep the country for any possibility. Under the Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package: Phase-II, the Union Health Ministry released Rs. 1,827.78 crores to the states and UTs this year. Special hospitals and healthcare infrastructure established during the first two waves will have to be kept running in preparation for any eventuality.
Going by the official claims, India is well-poised to take the challenge of a third wave head-on. While it remains to be seen if the new infections are less severe than the preceding ones, it would be foolish to downplay the threat of Omicron. India cannot afford another disaster like the first two waves. Proper awareness and strict adherence to COVID regulations and social distancing must be enforced. Together, this menace can be seen off.