Thiruvananthapuram: A majority of people affected by the current wave of COVID-19 in Kerala are infected with the Delta variant of coronavirus. The recently detected variant, Omicron, has not spread in a big way in the state yet as feared, though an isolated disease cluster caused by it has been declared in a Pathanamthitta college on Wednesday.
Kerala recorded 12,742 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday after testing 72,808 samples, taking its Test Positivity Rate (TPR) to 17.5 per cent. Out of this fresh cases, 11,327 persons contracted the infection through contact and only 76 new cases of Omicron were reported.
Omicron has been so far detected among 421 persons including those who came from abroad.
Health Minister Veena George said that the current spread of the virus is because of the increased people-to-people contact during Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Delta vs Omicron
Delta is more dangerous than Omicron as it affects the respiratory system and could lead to pneumonia. However, the number of people becoming critical due to Delta variant now is unlikely to large because of the high rate of vaccination against the COVID-19 pandemic — 99 per cent of the eligible adult population in the state has secured the first dose and 82 per cent the second dose vaccination so far.
The Omicron variant spreads very fast even though it has a short incubation period. The main symptoms are cold, throat pain, cough and breathing difficulties.
Omicron can also spread on a big scale even without these symptoms.
Those infected with the Omicron variant cannot be detected only with the RT-PCR test. Omisure of Tata Medicals and Diagnostic which can even detect micro presence of Omicron, received the approval of the ICMR on Wednesday. The state will have to depend on the RT-PCR tests till the government procures the new testing kit or the Centre provides it.
Above 10,000 new daily cases again
On Wednesday, the daily COVID-19 cases crossed the 10,000 mark for the first time after two-and-a-half months. As many as 72,808 samples were tested of which 12,742 were found positive, thus the Test Positivity Rate (TPR) shot up to 17.5 per cent.
The highest number of cases have been reported from these districts: Thiruvananthapuram 3,498, Ernakulam 2,214, Kozhikode 1164, Thrissur 989 and Kottayam 941.
Only 76 new Omicron infections
The 76 new cases of Omicron detected on Wednesday were from these districts: Thrissur 15, Pathanamthitta 13, Alappuzha 8, Kannur 8, Thiruvananthapuram 6, Kottayam 6, Malappuram 6, Kollam 5, Kozhikode 4, Kasaragod 2, Ernakulam 1 and Wayanad 1.
A person who came from Tamil Nadu was also found infected with Omicron.
Of the new cases as many as 59 people came from low-risk countries and 7 from high-risk countries for the new variant of the disease-causing virus. Just nine got the infection through contact and they belonged to Thrissur (3), Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Kottayam which had two cases each.
However, an Omicron cluster has formed in a private nursing college in Pathanamthitta.
'Avoid crowding, stay indoors'
Health Minister Veena George has urged people to avoid crowding to the maximum possible extent in view of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the state.
Those coming out in public places should either wear N95 mask or double mask themselves. The minister appealed to those having fever and cold to stay indoors and not move in public places.