Omicron variant may lead to a rise in COVID infections in India: experts

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Omicron variant may lead to a rise in COVID infections in India: experts

India's COVID 19 infections, led by the Omicron variant, may see a rise in the coming weeks, some top experts said, noting that the variant is already in community transmission and hospitals are seeing more patients despite a decline in cases in major cities.

India reported 306,064 new infections over the last 24 hours, an 8 per cent decline from the average daily cases reported in the last four days, according to the health ministry. The death toll was 439, the lowest in five days.

The highly-transmissible Omicron variant has led to a rise in weekly positivity rates to 17.03 per cent, from 0.63 per cent on December 27, leading to a rise in weekly optimism rates to 17.03 per cent.

The advisory group said that most cases of the Omicron variant have been mild, although hospitalisations and cases in intensive care are increasing in India and have become dominant in multiple metros.

In the last two weeks major cities such as Mumbai and Delhi have reported big falls in cases after hitting peaks, as well as financial hub Mumbai in the wealthiest state of Maharashtra.

That might change, said Dr. Subhash Salunke, a member of the state-owned Indian Council of Medical Research and the national taskforce on COVID, as the variant is spreading to semi-urban and rural areas. Salunke, who previously advised the Maharashtra government, said that the state expects to see multiple peaks in the next eight to 10 weeks.

Salunke told Reuters that the deadly Delta variant from the previous wave was also circulating in cities like Mumbai and Pune.

India's tally of infections was 39.54 million, the second-highest worldwide behind the United States. The country has seen 489,848 people die of the disease.