Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Omicron behind Mizoram’s Covid-19 spike: Experts

Experts in Mizoram believe that spread of the Omicron variant is behind the rapidly rising number of cases of COVID-19 in the state even though this is yet to be confirmed by genome sequencing.
State nodal officer for Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and official spokesperson on COVID-19, Dr. Pachuau Lalmalsawma, said that Omicron variant could be the reason for the high infection rate in Mizoram although genome sequencing to prove that Omicron variant has spread to this hilly border state is still awaited.
“Our main suspect behind the rapid increase in COVID-19 case is Omicron, as most patients developed symptoms of the new variant,” he told PTI.
The number of daily infections in the state rose from 33 cases on December 20, 2021, just before Christmas to 265 a day on New Year’s day 2022, to 2,531 cases on February 1, this year. Mizoram’s spike continues even as cases have started falling in most major cities and states including eastern India’s biggest connectivity hub – Kolkata.
Pachuau, one of the foremost epidemiologists in the state, believes that Omicron variant of COVID-19 has already spread to the state even though the results of about 300 samples sent for genome sequencing in December last year and January this year are still awaited.
According to him, at least 95 samples were sent to the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics in West Bengal’s Kalyani in December and another 224 samples were sent to the same institute in January.
The official said that samples sent for genome sequencing in January were suspected for Omicron as majority of them were collected from people who had returned to the state after travel outside and who tested positive for COVID-19 on their arrival at Lengpui airport in Aizawl.
He said that Delta variant too still exists along side Omicron as symptoms of Delta variant were still found in some patients.
Among other health experts, state health and family welfare Dr. Z.R. Thiamsanga, Zoram Medical College (ZMC) director Dr. John Zohmingthanga and Indian Medical Association (IMA) Mizoram state branch vice president Dr. Rosangluai held the same opinion as Pachuau and believed Omicron variant was the reason behind the spike in COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Rosangluaia, who said Mizoram is witnessing the third COVID-19 wave, said most patients “developed less severe symptoms and loss of smell is less common”, which were indicative of Omicron variant.
“The community transmission rate now is not controllable by imposition of lockdown”, he added.
Z.R. Thiamsanga believed that negligence in adopting COVID-19 appropriate behaviour, re-opening of churches, etc., could be other reasons behind the high infection rate besides Omicron variant.
“It is verified that many people contracted the virus after attending church service, while others got infected from their relatives during home isolation,” he told PTI.
Dr. John Zohmingthanga said that most patients have recovered fast as they developed less severe symptoms.
However, the COVID-19 variant prevalent in the state now is still dangerous for aged people and people with comorbidities.
According to him, about 70-80 per cent of COVID-19 victims in the state had comorbidities.
The state has so far reported 40,302 COVID-19 cases and 75 fatalities from first January to February 4 this year, according to the health department.
On February 2, the state reported 2,573 cases, the highest single-day spike ever.
The northeastern state on Friday reported 1,956 new COVID-19 cases with a single-day positivity rate of 30.91 per cent, pushing the state’s tally to 1,81,696.
According to the health department, one person has succumbed to the infection in the last 24 hours taking the death toll to 618, while 2,406 people have recovered from the infection during the same period.
The state has tested 16.98 lakh samples for COVID-19 and out of this 6,328 samples were tested on Thursday.
Over 7.96 people have been inoculated till Thursday and of this 6.16 lakh people have received full dose, state immunization officer Dr. Lalmuanawma Jongte said.

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