Kerala

Omicron driving third wave in State: Veena

The third wave of COVID-19 currently raging in the State is driven by the Omicron virus variant, with 94% of the sentinel surveillance samples sent for genomic sequencing revealing itself to be Omicron and the rest 6%, the Delta variant, Health Minister Veena George has said.While this has been a foregone conclusion of epidemiologists and clinicians in the State since January first week, when the State’s COVID-19 case graph began rising, this is the first time that this fact is being officially acknowledged by the State. Among theCOVID-19-positive samples from international travellers sent for sequencing, 80% of the samples were of the Omicron virus variant and the rest Delta.

Addressing media persons here on Thursday, Ms. George said the government was fully prepared to take on the third wave and that a State-level war room which had already started functioning, was coordinating all COVID-related activities and closely monitoring the situation.The rapid response teamof the Health department was meeting on a daily basis and monitoring all aspects of COVID management, including hospital and ICU occupancy, data sharing and oxygen requirement. Ms. George said the ICU occupancy in the State had shown a dip by 2%. In government hospitals, only 40.5% of the ICUs were currently occupied by both COVID and non-COVID patients, while ventilator occupancy was also at a low at 11.5%. In the private sector, ICU occupancy of both COVID and non COVID patients together was 8.28%, while ventilator occupancy was 8.96%.Ms. George said that only 3.6% of the active cases were being treatedin hospitals. With 97% of the COVID cases now confined to care at home, it was important that home care was carried out in a proper and scientific manner. She appealed to the public to be mindful of the fact that even when it created less serious illness in comparison to Delta, Omicron was leading to serious disease in a proportion of the population who are elderly or might have other comorbidities.

The government had ensured that in the third wave, only critically ill patients reached medical college hospitals and that non-COVID care was not affected. No hospital should deny care to a COVID-positive patient. Ms. George said that some complaints with regard to COVID-positive patients being denieddialysis facilityinprivate hospitals had been reported.She asked private hospitals to make some arrangements so that a dialysis machine is dedicated to COVID-19 patients in every hospital. The government has also ensured the same in at least two hospitals in every district. Going by the current pace of disease transmission, it is highly likely that daily case numbers will rise further and that the wave will peaksooner than projected. However, the timeline will be different for districts and in some districts, the peak was predicted on February first week.Despite the rise in cases, the governmentdid not expect hospitalisations to reach a critical point, primarily because of the fact that Omicron caused less serious disease than Delta and also because 84% of the population was fully vaccinated. Even so, the situation was being closely reviewed and any surge in hospital admissions could be managed, Ms. George said.


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Printable version | May 20, 2022 3:17:44 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/omicron-driving-third-wave-in-state-veena/article38335519.ece