The epicentre of the Omicron surge has shifted to Europe in the last two days, with Denmark and the United Kingdom reporting the maximum number of cases of this new coronavirus variant.
Denmark, in fact, now accounts for the highest number of confirmed Omicron cases. A new report by Denmark’s Statens Serum Institut, released on Friday, said 1,280 cases of new variant had so far been identified in the country. That means Denmark now has almost one-third of all confirmed Omicron cases.
Omicron count has crossed 1,000 in the UK as well, though this is only the confirmed number. UK media quoted health officials as saying that the new variant might already be causing about 1,000 infections a day. The UK Health Security Agency has estimated that at present rates of growth, more than half of new infections by the middle of this month might be due to the Omicron variant.
UK is reporting more than 50,000 new cases every day. On Friday, over 58,000 cases were reported, the highest since January. The UK Health Security Agency has warned that this number could reach 100,000 a day if current trends continue.
The United States is continuing to report over one lakh cases a day on an average, the highest in the world. The Omicron count, however, is relatively low. According to a report in The New York Times, 43 cases of Omicron infection were detected in the country in the first eight days of this month.
Nine cases of Omicron variant were detected in India on Friday, seven in Maharashtra and two in Gujarat. A total of 25 cases of Omicron infection have been confirmed so far in the country. Three of the infected people in Mumbai had travel history to Tanzania, UK and South Africa, while the four in Pune were contacts of a Nigerian woman who had been found infected with the Omicron variant earlier. The two new infections in Gujarat are among close relatives of an NRI, a citizen of Zimbabwe who had arrived a week earlier in Jamnagar and had tested positive for the Omicron variant.
Booster dose effective against Omicron
Meanwhile, a new analysis from the UK suggested that two doses of vaccines offered feeble protection against the Omicron variant, but a third, booster, dose was at least 75 per cent effective in preventing Covid19 symptoms. The analysis was based on data from 581 patients infected with Omicron variant and thousands who had been infected with Delta variant.
In an update on Thursday, the World Health Organisation said there were “signs of hope” as preliminary data suggested that hospitalisations across South Africa, where the Omicron variant was first detected, remained low. “Emerging data from South Africa indicates that Omicron may cause less severe illness. Data which looked at hospitalisations across South Africa between 14 November and 4 December found that ICU occupancy was only 6.3 % – which is very low compared with the same period when the country was facing the peak linked to the Delta variant in July,” the WHO said.
“Data from the same two-week period from one of the health districts most impacted by Omicron found that out of more than 1,200 admissions, 98 were receiving supplemental oxygen and only four were on ventilation,” it said.
“This is very preliminary data with a small sample size and most of the people admitted to the health facilities were under the age of 40. As the clinical profile of patients changes, the impact of Omicron may change,” it added.
There has been no appreciable change in hospitalisation rate in the UK as well in the last few days when large number of Omicron cases have been detected.
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