Indian cities ramp up restrictions amid Omicron scare
New Delhi, Dec 27 (EFE).- Several regions of India on Monday imposed fresh restrictions to try and check a fresh Covid-19 wave, driven by the spread of the Omicron variant, although overall infections have stayed low in the country of over around 1.35 billion inhabitants.
So far genome sequencing tests have identified 587 cases of the Omicron variant, with the highest 142 found in national capital Delhi, followed by the western state of Maharashtra (141), according to the latest data released by the Indian health ministry
The authorities have not clarified what is the proportion of the variant amid samples taken for specialized tests, but the numbers show a significant increase in cases of the variant in less than a month after the first two Omicron infections were identified.
This has put the spotlight on the two major cities of India, financial hub Mumbai – the capital of Maharashtra – and Delhi, both of which had converted into major Covid hotspots in the past due to their massive populations.
Amid fears of a third coronavirus wave, New Delhi on Monday imposed a curfew between 11 pm and 5 am until further notice.
Authorities have also closed schools and non-essential services and reduced the public transport’s capacity by 50 percent.
Maharashtra, the state worst affected by the pandemic, has restricted gatherings to maximum 5 people after 9 pm and reduced seating in public services to 50 percent in order to prevent crowding during the year-end festivities.
Although India has witnessed a steady decline in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, some regions – including Delhi – have witnessed a rise in infections after the first Omicron case was detected in early December.
The Indian capital on Monday registered 290 cases, after averaging around 50 cases per day in November.
The South Asian country had become the worldwide epicenter of the pandemic in May during the second wave, with over 400,000 daily cases and more than 4,000 deaths, which led to a shortage of medical oxygen and a collapse of the healthcare system.
However, on Monday the nationwide daily caseload stood at a little over 6,500, still among the lowest this year, and 315 deaths were reported over the last 24 hours.
India has so far registered over 34.7 million coronavirus cases, while the death toll has crossed 479,000, making it the second worst affected country after the United States. EFE