Telangana's Health Department on Thursday, December 30 said that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus could mark the beginning of the third wave of the pandemic. Director of Public Health and Family Welfare Dr G Srinivasa Rao said that the next two-to-four weeks will be critical for the state and for the entire country due to the spike in cases. "Omicron has already spread in the community. Everybody is vulnerable but it is in the hands of every person to protect himself," he said.
The DPH said that people need not panic, but at the same time remain alert and take all precautions. “New Year’s and Sankranti will lead to a lot of movement of people in Telugu states and may cause a third wave soon,” he said. He further added that, learning lessons from the second wave, the government has taken all steps to tackle the third one. These include testing, surveillance, treatment and keeping infrastructure, human resources and medicines readily available. However, he advised people to continue taking precautions such as wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, washing hands regularly and taking vaccines.
Speaking about a potential third wave, he said that it may not last long, but in the short period the country may witness an unprecedented surge. "Earlier we saw over a lakh daily cases in India and over 10,000 cases in Telangana but in coming days this could be five times higher or even more. There is no need for panic because we have created awareness among people about the disease," he said.
The DPH further advised people who test positive for the coronavirus to “not waste their money” in genome sequencing to find out whether they are infected with Omicron. "Whether it is Delta or Omicron, there is no difference in the treatment," he said.
Even as other states announced restrictions on New Year’s Eve celebrations, the Telangana government said that bars and other restaurants that serve liquor can remain open till 1 am, and allowed retail alcohol stores to remain open until midnight on December 31. The move came as a surprise as it came just days after the Telangana High Court directed the state government to impose restrictions on public gatherings in view of the festive season.