Well being specialists in India expressed alarm on Thursday because the nation recorded a coronavirus surge, in all probability fueled by the Omicron variant, that has seen new reported circumstances greater than double within the final 4 days.

In accordance with the nation’s well being ministry, India registered greater than 13,000 new circumstances on Wednesday, one of many highest every day totals since October.

“We consider that this push is a part of the worldwide upsurge associated to Omicron,” V.Ok. Paul, the top of the federal government’s Covid-19 process drive, instructed a information convention on Thursday night.

However Mr. Paul added: “There’s no have to panic as a result of as a nation we’re ready, we now have expertise and we now have the large defend of very excessive protection of vaccines.”

A minimum of 61 p.c of Indians have acquired not less than one shot of a coronavirus vaccine, and 43 p.c have acquired two, in response to the Our World in Information undertaking.

Nonetheless, specialists fear {that a} huge surge fueled by a extremely transmissible variant in a rustic of 1.4 billion folks might overwhelm the well being system. On the top of India’s devastating second wave in Might, not less than 4,000 Covid-19 sufferers had been dying every day due to crippling shortages of oxygen, hospital beds and medicines.

Dr. Rachna Kucheria, a public well being professional and founding father of DocGenie, a telemedicine start-up, stated in an interview with the broadcaster NDTV that though Omicron showed signs of being less severe than earlier variants, there might nonetheless be issues if it generated a bigger general variety of circumstances. “When this occurs in a pandemic, any nation, in most nations, techniques will get overwhelmed shortly,” she stated.

Much more regarding, specialists say, is that the rise in circumstances once more coincides with a state election season. Voting is scheduled to start subsequent month in 5 states together with Uttar Pradesh, essentially the most populous within the nation, and big crowds attended rallies held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and opposition events on Thursday. Early this yr, huge election rallies together with many unmasked folks, and the government’s politicization of virus science, had been blamed for serving to the virus unfold through the second wave.

On Thursday, some state governments confronted the potential of a 3rd wave, reopening Covid-19 “warfare rooms” and contemplating tighter restrictions to curb the unfold.

The police in Mumbai, the nation’s monetary nerve heart, banned gatherings of 4 or extra folks till Jan. 7 after new infections there almost tripled in latest days.

In New Delhi, folks lined up outdoors metro stations as trains and buses had been ordered to start working at 50 p.c occupancy. Colleges, gyms and spas have been closed, retailers have been instructed to open on alternating days and crowds at weddings have been capped at 20 folks.

Satyendar Jain, Delhi’s well being minister, stated on Thursday that genome sequencing suggests that just about half of town’s new infections had been of Omicron, including that the variant was spreading quick and infecting folks no matter their journey historical past.