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Omicron Covid variant causes fresh concerns in India

Munawar Zaman
Press TV, New Delhi

The new variant of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused fresh worries in the world’s second most populous nation, the Indian subcontinent, which encountered deadly episode of the early pandemic and is now gearing up for yet another phase.

The country is on the high alert with many health experts fearing if it is ready to face a new challenge. Based on the world health organization, the variant is spreading at the fastest pace compared with earlier ones.

Based on health ministry data, 55% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated, while 87% has received the first dose. Now in the wake of the rapid spread of the super-variant Omicron, the country is gearing up for worst scenario. Health experts say there is a chance current vaccines become ineffective in emerging situations.

India’s Omicron case tally stood at 73 on Thursday with New Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and West Bengal reporting new variants.  Most cases of Omicron are being reported from Maharashtra.

India reported its lowest number of active COVID-19 cases in 18 months on Thursday. Based on government data, the total number of COVID infections in the country stands at 87,000, lowest since March. India's overall COVID-19 caseload has surged to 34 million with 475,000 deaths till now.

There is also a sharp drop in following COVID guidelines; people have started flouting the basic protocols amid heated election campaigns and religious gatherings raising fears among health experts.

Many fear the reoccurrence of April when the country was ravaged by severe healthcare crises with people battling for oxygen. The subcontinent is still recovering from the collateral damage of immeasurable extent such as rising poverty, unemployment and migrant crises besides economic slowdown.

With this new variant picking up pace rapidly, health authorities have been urging people to strictly abide by the basic COVID guidelines to avoid a similar disaster, which collapsed the country’s healthcare during second wave.

Now Fears are also growing of economic slowdown and fresh travel restrictions.

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