New Delhi: The rise in COVID-19 cases in India hasn’t been accompanied by any “unusual pattern” or “clustering,” according to an expert at the apex network of laboratories monitoring genomic variants of the disease.
“There has been a slight uptick in the number of cases but the good news is that there’s is no clustering, unusual pattern resulting in severity of the disease or increase in hospitalisation seen so far,” the expert at the Indian Sars-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (Insacog) said on the condition of anonymity.
He said the newly detected XBB 1.16 sub variant could be driving the surge in India. So far over 76 samples of COVID-19’s XBB 1.16 variant have been found in India. The variant has been found in Karnataka (30), Maharashtra (29), Puducherry (7), Delhi (5), Telangana (2), Gujarat (1), Himachal (1) and Odisha (1), Insacog data showed. “We are keeping a strict vigil and there is nothing to worry,” said the expert.
Active cases have continued to rise in India for 33 days to the highest since November last year. India saw a single-day rise of more than 1,000 fresh COVID-19 cases after 129 days, while active cases rose to 5,915, according to Union health ministry data on Sunday.
“In India, there is a 281 per cent increase in cases and 17 per cent increase in deaths over the past 14 days,” tweeted Vipin M Vashishtha, former convenor of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics and consultant paediatrician at the Mangla Hospital and Research Centre.
States, Hospitals Monitoring Situation
XBB 1.16 has been detected in over 12 countries so far, including the US, Brunei, Singapore and the UK.
“We have seen a slight increase in COVID patients in the outpatient clinics of the hospitals,” said Sandeep Budhiraja, group medical director, Max Healthcare, and senior director at its Institute of Internal Medicine. “These have been observed in the last few days. The symptoms have, however, been relatively mild. We are monitoring the situation and plan to put in COVID protocols if we find cases increasing further.”
Following the increase in cases, the Union health secretary on Thursday wrote to six states – Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat – that account for most of the new cases.
He asked them to conduct adequate and proactive testing, monitor new clusters and influenza-like illnesses, send samples of international travellers, set up sentinel sites and monitor clusters for genomic sequencing. He also asked the states to take steps to promote precaution doses and ensure people follow COVID-appropriate behaviour.
The total number of COVID cases across the country increased from 2,082 in the week ended March 8 to 3,264 in the week ended March 15, with the positivity rate at 0.61 per cent.
In Gujarat, a sharp spike was seen from 13 cases in the week ended February 28 to 105 in the week ended March 8 and 279 in the week ended March 15, with the positivity rate at 1.11 per cent. In Tamil Nadu, the corresponding case count for the three weeks was 96, 170 and 258, respectively, with the positivity rate at 1.99 per cent, according to the health ministry. In Kerala, it was 326, 434 and 579, respectively, with the positivity rate at 2.64 per cent. In Telangana, it was 95, 132 and 267, respectively. The state, however, reported a lower positivity rate at 0.31 per cent. In Karnataka, the case count for the three weeks was 363, 493 and 604, respectively, with the positivity rate at 2.77 per cent. In Maharashtra, the case count for the three weeks was 197, 355 and 668, respectively, with the positivity rate at 1.92 per cent.