Telangana has stopped classification of Omicron cases among COVID-19 infections, saying it was no longer necessary, according to health authorities. For the past three weeks, information was shared specifically about Omicron cases among air passengers coming to Hyderabad from various countries. While the practice has come to an end in the state, it is not yet clear if genome sequencing has been stopped for the samples collected from passengers upon their arrival at the Hyderabad Airport.
Meanwhile, the daily COVID-19 bulletin released on Thursday night, January 6, had no information about Omicron cases. The state had reported 94 Omicron cases among passengers from both at-risk and other than at-risk countries, until Wednesday, which included four cases among local contacts. The officials had said that 43 out of 94 Omicron cases had recovered. They were awaiting genome sequencing results of 68 samples as on January 5.
Meanwhile, the state reported 1,913 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday. The daily count was 1,520 on Wednesday. Director of Public Health G Srinivasa Rao stated that Omicron was already in the community and separate categorisation of Omicron will not serve any purpose as the spread cannot be stopped by testing 300-500 people at the airport, he said.
"According to our estimates, more than 70% of COVID-19 cases are caused by the Omicron variant. We need not know whether it is Delta, Gamma or Omicron variant, as testing and treatment are the same. We cannot conduct genome sequencing on everybody. There is no need for it. We have to know if someone has COVID-19 or not," he said.
He also said that there was a four-fold increase in the number of cases in the last five days. Greater Hyderabad saw 1,214 new infections against 979 cases the previous day. Rangareddy and Medchal Malkajgiri district, adjoining Hyderabad, reported 213 and 161 new cases, respectively.
Telangana had reported its first Omicron case on December 15, 2021. A total of 13,652 passengers had arrived from at-risk countries up until January 5 and random COVID-19 tests were conducted on two percent of the passengers coming from other countries. Majority of the cases were detected among those coming from other than those from the at-risk countries.
The officials also warned that the state may see a bigger surge later this month, following the Sankranti festival. Stating that the next four weeks will be critical, the director appealed to people to strictly adhere to COVID-19 guidelines to check the spread.
With IANS inputs