On November 26, 2021, WHO delegated the variant (B.1.1.529) Omicron as the variant of concern. Omicron (B.1.1.529) was first identified in COVID-19 patients in Botswana and South Africa. The new strain of coronavirus has been referred as variant of concern since it has conglomerate mutations and commutations in the prong protein and has superseded the Delta variant in South Africa.
Omicron variant has a great number of alterations that has impacted very easily and has spread in an instant. Omicron has a chunk of mutations that had never been detected in past variants of SARS-COVID19, WHO and scientist are taking Omicron variant very seriously as the variant is spreading very furiously. As the Omicron variant is catalysing infections around the world.
According to the WHO total, 57 countries reported new cases of Omicron variant, where India’s omicron cases tally rises to 653 now. In India on December 6, the first case of Omicron variant was detected at Kochi District in Kerala, the concerned patient had returned from the United Kingdom. Now so far, the highest spike of Omicron variants has been reported from Maharashtra with 167 cases followed by Delhi with 165 cases, Kerala with 57, Telangana with 55 and Gujarat with 49.
Despite the emergence of Omicron variant and the unforeseen gush in the tally of COVID-19 cases, the probability of the third covid wave is becoming a matter of concern in the world as well as the Nations. Hence, on December 25, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Nation will commence vaccination drive for teenagers between the ages of 15 to 18 starting from the first week of January 2022. Meanwhile, the cases of Omicron variant started surging in full pace, experts considers that the variant can become a dominant strain very soon as it’s being highly transmissible. Therefore, healthcare, other frontline workers and citizens above the age of 60 years with symptomatology will be allotted the booster dose on a recommendation from the doctors starting from January 10, 2022.
Sikkim, a small state of India was hard struck by the second wave of the COVID-19 with more than 100 fatalities during second wave despite being a small state Covid was a challenge during the third wave. However, to anticipate the rising case of New variant in the country and possible third wave, Sikkim health department claimed to be prepared.
Addressing the media Dr. Pempa T Bhutia, Health Secretary on December 13 stated that,“We are fully preparing ourselves for the upcoming third wave of Covid-19, as we are getting funds from the government, and we are also training all the doctors and nurses too. We will set up ICUs in every District hospitals along.”
“As far as Omicron variant of COVID-19 is concerned so far no cases has been detected in Sikkim and according to the guidelines given by the government of India we are sending samples for Genome testing at lab based at Kolkata.”
In Northeast states of India, Manipur detected its first case on December 27 as the sample of male who had a travel history of forigen. After the first case, the Manipur health department are monitoring 480 more people who’d arrived to Manipur from outside the country. The government of Manipur issued an order addressing that the people inside the state will comply to COVID-19 appropriate protocols and behaviour. In addition, the states of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Assam, Uttar Pradesh have imposed night curfews with stern restrictions. So far, in the other parts of Northeast Region, the cases of omicron had still not being emerged or detected.
In comparison to other variants of the corona virus Omicron is spreading more quickly than other variants. Based on the information available, WHO believes it is likely that Omicron will outpace the Delta variant where there is COVID-19 transmission in the community. However, being vaccinated and taking precautions such as avoiding crowded spaces, keeping your distance from others and wearing a mask are critical in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we know these actions have been effective against other variants.
It seems that new variants like Omicron are a reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. It is therefore essential that people get the vaccine when available to them and continue to follow existing advice on preventing the spread of the virus, including physical distancing, wearing masks, regular handwashing and keeping indoor areas well ventilated.