Indian megacities Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, albeit without a corresponding increase in hospitalizations, but fears are growing that it will spread to rural areas in the coming days.
India reported 90,928 new daily cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, nearly four times more since the start of the year, mostly in cities where health officials say the Omicron variant has overtaken Delta.
Most of those infected showed no symptoms or only mild symptoms and recovered quickly at home, officials said.
The Federal Ministry of Health on Wednesday identified Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru as some of the main areas of concern, although state officials fear the disease will soon spread to the countryside where health facilities are. weaker.
Kolkata, a city of around 15 million people, accounted for half of new cases in the eastern state of West Bengal until a few days ago, but cases are now increasing in neighboring districts. The state has reported one of the highest infection rates in India.
“We are monitoring the situation in districts and rural areas where the numbers are also increasing,” said Ajay Chakraborty, director of health services in West Bengal who has isolated himself at his home after contracting the virus.
Many COVID beds in Calcutta were still empty, Chakraborty said. In the government hospital for infectious diseases and Beliaghata, only 75 admissions were recorded on Tuesday despite more than 9,000 new cases, he added.
In the west, Mumbai recorded a new daily infection peak of 15,166 on Wednesday, well above its previous high of just over 11,000 last year. Almost 90 percent of new patients had no symptoms and only 8 percent were hospitalized, city officials said in a daily health bulletin.
COVID-19 cases nearly doubled in one day in Delhi to 10,665 on Wednesday, but the state said only 7% of its COVID beds were occupied.
Federal health officials have warned, however, that even a large number of mild cases could put pressure on the healthcare system.
India has confirmed at least 2,135 cases of Omicron, and one death related to the variant, in an elderly man with diabetes.
Daily deaths from COVID-19 increased by 325 on Thursday, bringing the total to 482,876. The total number of infections stands at 35.11 million, only behind the US tally.
Many cities have already imposed nighttime curfews and weekend closures, as well as closed schools. However, political rallies continued in several states where elections are scheduled in the weeks and months to come.
Health officials will discuss the matter with election commission officials on Thursday amid growing concerns over such rallies which led to a devastating second wave in the country in April and May.
Associated Australian Press