Is COVID picking pace in India?

Two cases of new XE variant have been detected in the country

New Delhi: Amid a global rise in Covid cases driven by BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, India is also seeing a slow yet steady rise in the number of infections in several states.

This comes as two cases of the new XE variant – a mutant hybrid of Omicron sub-variants BA.1 and BA.2 – have been detected in the country, one each from Maharashtra and Gujarat.

The Union Health Ministry has asked five states — Kerala, Haryana, Maharashtra, Delhi, and Mizoram — to continue monitoring the spread of infection and undertake prompt steps to manage the Covid spread.

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Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has directed these states to conduct regular monitoring and follow up action in emerging areas of concern.

“A sustained and significant decline in the number of Covid-19 cases has been observed in lndia over the past 2 months, with the country reporting less than 1,000 daily new cases for the past few days. Further, the weekly positivity rate has remained below 1 per cent,” Bhushan said in the letter.

However, Delhi, Haryana, and Gujarat have seen a rise in the seven-day average of daily cases. Delhi on April 7 saw 176 new cases – the highest daily rise since March 10.

It also reported an increase in weekly new cases – to 826 new cases in the week ending April 8 from 724 new cases in the week ending April 1. It has also seen an increase in positivity in the last week from 0.51 percent to 1.25 percent.

Haryana reported a surge in seven-day average – 68 on April 9 from 47 on April 4. Weekly new cases in the state rose to 416 in the week ending April 8 from 367 in the week ending April 1. Haryana has also seen an increase in positivity in the last week from 0.51 percent to 1.06 percent.

Gujarat reported 34 fresh cases on April 9 – the highest daily count since March 13, while the average also rose to 15 from 9 on April 4.

There is also a slow rise seen in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

Meanwhile, about 1.5 million new cases are being reported each day worldwide, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said.

“We’re seeing 1.5 million new cases each day. Large outbreaks are spreading in Asia. A new wave is sweeping across Europe,” Guterres said, while addressing a recent summit on the international vaccine sharing scheme COVAX.

The countries seeing new outbreaks in Asia include China, and Hong Kong, and the UK, France, Italy, and the Netherlands in Europe.

Guterres said that some countries are also reporting their highest death rates since the start of the pandemic.

“And yet one-third of humanity remains unvaccinated,” he lamented. He called out governments and pharmaceutical companies “to work better together to deliver vaccines to every person, everywhere – not just in wealthy countries”.

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