COVID-19 cases in India start to inch up as Omicron takes over

77% increase in infections detected compared with a week back; rapid surge in urban centres.

Updated - December 30, 2021 10:49 am IST

Published - December 29, 2021 10:19 pm IST

A medic collects a swab sample for an RT-PCR test outside DDU hospital, Hari Nagar in West Delhi on Wednesday.

A medic collects a swab sample for an RT-PCR test outside DDU hospital, Hari Nagar in West Delhi on Wednesday.

The number of COVID-19 infections in India is on an increasing trend. After consistently declining since mid-May, the average number of cases showed a bump again in the last week of December. On December 29, 13,187 cases were recorded, a 76.6% increase compared with the infections a week back. Data for some States — Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Tripura and smaller Union Territories — were not included as of 10 p.m. on December 29.

While Kerala continued to contribute the most number of cases, infections in all districts of the State are decreasing. On the other hand, infections are surging in other States’ urban centres such as Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Delhi.

Shifting patternsWhile Kerala continues to contribute the most number of infections, the cases are on a declining trend in the State. However, Maharashtra's share has increased signifcantly in the past 10 days. The table lists the share of new caseseach day December19th20th21st22nd23rd24th25th26th27th28thNew cases6,6615,1346,3137,4996,7687,2407,1096,5156,2709,132Kerala45%43%44%43%37%36%34%28%26%27%Maharashtra14%11%13%16%17%19%21%25%23%24%W.B.8%8%7%7%8%8%8%8%7%8%T.N.9%12%10%8%9%8%9%9%10%7%Delhi2%2%2%2%2%2%4%4%5%5%Gujarat1%1%1%1%2%1%3%3%3%4%Karnataka5%4%5%4%4%6%4%5%5%4%Telangana2%3%3%2%3%2%2%2%3%3%Mizoram2%1%3%3%4%2%2%1%1%2%Odisha3%4%2%2%2%2%2%2%2%2%Crowd source:A packed platform at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus on Wednesday in Mumbai .PTi

Mumbai recorded 2,510 cases on Wednesday, an 80% increase compared with the previous day and a 400% rise compared with a week ago. Delhi recorded 923 cases, a 600% rise from a week ago. Bengaluru recorded 400 infections, a 90% increase compared with last week. Chennai recorded 294 cases, a 100% increase.

Mumbai contributed more than 15% of the country’s cases on Wednesday — the highest among all cities — followed by Delhi, which formed about 5% of infections.

The recent rise in infections is due to the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. According to data from GISAID, an open-access portal for genomic data on viruses, Omicron has become the dominating variant in India. In the last few days of December, the Omicron variant was found in about 60% of the samples sequenced in India.

Initial reports from other countries showed that the Omicron wave is more infectious than the Delta wave and infects more people in a shorter span. However, hospitalisations and ICU admissions are relatively lower compared with the previous waves, especially among the vaccinated.

As of Wednesday, India has fully vaccinated 63% of its adults and partially vaccinated 89%, leaving a considerable share of the population vulnerable. Also, the pace of vaccination has been on a declining trend in December. From around 80 lakh doses a day on December 1, the rate has reduced to 60 lakh doses in the final days of December.

Also read: Clear data supporting very high immune escape potential of Omicron: INSACOG

India’s number of daily fatalities has remained steady at around the 300-mark for over two weeks. The number of tests has remained the same at around 11 to 11.5 lakh a day.

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