Telangana stops classification of Omicron cases


by IANS | Fri, Jan 07, 2022, 11:58 AM

Hyderabad, Jan 7 (IANS) Health authorities in Telangana have stopped classification of Omicron cases among Covid-19 infections, saying it was no longer necessary.

The health department has done away with sharing information about Omicron cases among air passengers coming to Hyderabad from various countries as it had been done for the last three weeks.

It was immediately not clear if the health authorities have stopped genome sequencing of the samples collected from passengers upon their arrival at the Hyderabad Airport.

The daily Covid status bulletin released on Thursday night had no information about Omicron cases. Till Wednesday, the state had reported 94 Omicron cases among passengers from both at-risk and other than at-risk countries. They included four cases among local contacts.

Stating that Omicron is already in the community, Director of Public Health G. Srinivasa Rao had said on Thursday that they estimate that over 70 per cent Covid cases in the state are Omicron.

He believes that separate categorisation of Omicron will not serve any purpose as it cannot be stopped by testing 300-500 people at the airport.

"According to our estimates, more than 70 per cent cases are Omicron cases. We need not know whether it is Delta, Gamma or Omicron variant, as testing and treatment are the same. We cannot conduct genome sequencing on everybody. There is no need for it. We have to know if someone has Covid or not," he said.

Telangana had reported its first Omicron case on December 15, 2021. The state had 94 Omicron cases till January 5. Since then, the health department has been providing details on a daily basis like the number of passengers arriving and the number of those testing positive for Covid. Their samples were being sent for genome sequencing.

Till January 5, a total of 13,652 passengers had arrived from at-risk countries. The authorities were also conducting random Covid tests on two per cent of the passengers coming from other countries. Majority of the cases were detected among those coming from other than at-risk countries.

The officials had said that 43 out of 94 Omicron cases had recovered. They were awaiting genome sequencing results of 68 samples as on January 5.

Meanwhile, the state reported 1,913 new Covid cases on Thursday. The daily count was 1,520 on Wednesday.

The Director of Public Health said there was a four-fold increase in the last five days. Greater Hyderabad saw 1,214 new infections against 979 cases the previous day. Rangareddy and Medchal Malkajgiri district, adjoining Hyderabad, reported 213 and 161 new cases, respectively.

The official warned that the state may see a bigger surge later this month after the Sankranti festival. Stating that the next four weeks will be critical, he appealed to people to strictly adhere to Covid guidelines to check the spread.

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