After labelling the pandemic threat level for the country as high on January 3, the top genome sequencing body in India - the INSACOG - in its latest bulletin has maintained that the threat level remains unchanged for the country.
Elaborating on the high threat level, INSACOG has said, "While most Omicron cases so far have been asymptomatic or mild, hospitalizations and ICU cases have been increasing in the current wave." Therefore, it declared, "The threat level remains unchanged."
While on Jan 3, 2022, INSACOG had said Omicron is now in community transmission in India and has become dominant in Delhi and Mumbai, its further spread in India is now expected to be through internal transmission, not foreign travellers, it had warned then.
In its latest bulletin, the top scientist body has said, "Omicron is now in community transmission in India and has become dominant in multiple metros, where new cases have been rising exponentially. BA.2 lineage is a substantial fraction in India and S- gene dropout based screening is thus likely to give high false negatives. Tests suitable for PCR based screening applicable to all Omicron lineages have been approved for use."
Why INSACOG Said Omicron Community Transmission?
As per the data released by INSACOG, even during the last 34-days, the country saw cases of Delta infections having risen by nearly 29 percent at the community level, Omicron infection has been up 51600 percent.
On December 3, 2021, post the genome sequencing of 66,951 community samples across the country, Delta and its sub-lineages accounted for a whopping over 46k samples, only 1 Omicron had been detected in community samples.
On Jan 7, 2021, a high of 90,915 community samples was sequenced. While Delta and its sub-lineages took a pie of over 63.3k samples, 517 sequenced samples confirmed Omicron infection.
Between Dec 3, 2021, and Jan 7, 2022, while the Delta and its family grew by around 37 percent, the super mutant Omciron posted an overwhelming growth of 51,600 percent.
Given the unprecedented growth rate of cases in community samples, INSACOG said Omicron is now in community transmission. This is so because, unlike Delta, Omicron infection can be identified through genome sequencing only.
So, when the country had been recording daily around 2 lakh new infections in the first week of January, the abnormal growth rate of Omicron sequenced genomes during the week scripts the third wave story in India.
Is Odisha Out Of The Hook?
The successive decline of the daily caseload in the State hardly gives any encouraging sign. A look at the weekly positive rates in the districts for the week 15-21 January pricks the explosive situation in the State.
From only 13 districts having a WTPR of over 10 percent in the week ended on Jan 18, the high-burden districts list rose to 16 in the week ending on Jan 21.
In fact, the weekly test positive rate is calculated by taking into account the 7-days moving average of daily caseload to accurately determine the pandemic enormity in a state or a district. The list given below tells how explosive is the situation in Odisha.
- Khordha ------ 33.6 percent
- Balasore ------ 28.18 percent
- Sundargarh ----- 24.6 percent
- Kalahandi ------- 19.2 percent
- Cuttack ----------- 16.29 percent
- Rayagada -------- 16.02 percent
- Mayurbhanj ------ 15.95 percent
- Balangir ------------ 14.72 percent
- Angul --------------- 12.09 percent
- Keonjhar ----------- 10.91 percent
- Sambalpur ---------- 10.81 percent
- Bargarh -------------- 10.58 percent
- Gajapati ------------- 10.21 percent
- Dhenkanal ---------- 10.08 percent
- Nabarangpur -------- 10.05 percent
- Nayagarh ------------- 10.04 percent
In the backdrop of explosive WTPR, and taking into account the WHO testing guidelines, it seems the time is ripe to increase the tests to around1 lakh per day in Odisha. Because the abnormally high WTPR gives a reality check of the pandemic situation in the State.