70-80 per cent of Covid patients in Gujarat have Omicron, says Health Minister

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Around 70 to 80 per cent of the positive cases detected in Gujarat were of the Omicron variant, Gujarat health minister Rushikesh Patel said Wednesday and urged those using home testing kits to register themselves with a doctor to help strategise state’s response to the third wave.

Gujarat continues to see a surge, reporting a fresh high of 20,966 new cases and 12 fatalities even as Patel indicated that the state was only approaching its peak, according to the government’s assessment.

Assuring that the Gujarat government was working to ensure that the “least number of patients require critical care and oxygen support” during the present third wave surge, Patel added that the public must adhere to Covid-19 SoPs and appropriate behaviour.

Patel was addressing a press conference at the Sabarmati riverfront house in Ahmedabad, along with five medical experts who are members of the state government’s Covid-19 taskforce.

Ahmedabad reported 8,529 new cases and six deaths and is again seeing a significant reduction in the doubling time of new infections — from nearly 11 days as of January 17 to five days, as of Wednesday.

Responding to a query by The Indian Express on why the state has stopped giving out data on daily Omicron cases, Patel said, “It is being said that of the total Covid-19 cases at present,70-80 per cent are of the Omicron variant. Omicron variant is spreading rapidly and we are not differentiating between Omicron or Delta variant anymore, we are only concerned about ensuring safe recovery of those infected.”

Patel also hinted that the daily Covid cases declared by the state could be less than actual positive cases as citizens also use home testing kits. “The figures we get is based on data from private and government hospitals (and laboratories). Figures of people who conduct tests using home kits are not registered. It is our appeal that in such cases, the patient must register themselves with a doctor… so that we can (be privy to the actual data of positive cases and) strategise accordingly… on our Covid response… we are getting indications that it is approaching the peak,” said Patel.

According to Patel, the state is monitoring daily cases, future projections as well as oxygen requirements. “I believe there will not be a situation like we saw during the second wave… At present, the state has a capacity of 1,500 metric tonnes of oxygen and as of Monday, daily oxygen requirement was marked at 70 metric tonnes,” said Patel.

The state’s oxygen requirement during the second wave peak ranged between 1,000 MT to 1,200 MT a day. Hospitalisation rate of active Covid patients was 2.05 per cent as of January 17, though the state’s test positivity rate (TPR) crossed 13 per cent since January 16.

According to data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, eight districts, including Rajkot (13.65 per cent), Navsari (11.58 per cent) and Jamnagar (10.21per cent), have breached the weekly TPR of 10 per cent, while five other districts — Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Bharuch and Gandhinagar — breached it four days ago. At present, Ahmedabad is seeing the highest weekly TPR at nearly 25 per cent, followed by Vadodara at 23.80 per cent, Gandhinagar 19.16 per cent and Bharuch 15per cent.

Surat, where 3,974 new cases and one death were reported Wednesday, has managed to keep its weekly TPR in check at 11.80 per cent as of January 18. Surat has been steadily increasing testing numbers since January 10 when it tested 15,400-odd samples, to 36,800-odd samples on January 18. However, according to MoHFW data, 52 per cent of the total tests conducted by the district in the week between January 12 and 18, were rapid antigen tests.

Sabarkantha reported two deaths on Tuesday, the first Covid fatalities after June 13.

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