Community spread of Omicron in Delhi: What does it mean? What we know about this
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain on Thursday said the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 is gradually spreading in the community. Delhi has witnessed a sudden surge in the number of Covid cases, driven by Omicron. As on Thursday morning, the national capital has the highest number of Omicron cases in India.
"Indeed, the variant is gradually spreading in the community and its proportion will increase in the coming days," the health minister said when asked if Omicron will be the dominant variant in a possible third wave of the pandemic.
Commenting on Omicron's community spread, Dr Naresh Gupta, director professor of Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi, said, about 70% of Omicron patients are asymptomatic and with the variant's high transmissibility, it is going to spread like fire once it gets into the community because you won't know if the next person is infected.
What is the community spread?
SARS-CoV-2 generally spreads from person to person through droplets, aerosols or through touch. Contact tracing is a process to track this chain of transmission and also to stop the chain from proceeding further by quarantining people who might have come in the chain. When the chain can not be established because the virus is widespread, it is called community spread. This means that the virus is circulating in the community and anyone can get the infection.
Community spread of Omicron
Omicron is a more transmissible variant of SARS-CoV-2, more contagious than Delta which caused the second wave of the pandemic in India. Within a month after the first Omicron cases were detected in India, the total number of Omicron cases reached 961 on Thursday.
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said the latest genome sequencing report of samples in Delhi showed 46% of the samples have Omicron and these people include those who do not have any travel history. This indicates community transmission, the health minister said.
The World Health Organization had confirmed the community transmission of Omicron in South Africa and the UK.
The first cases of Omicron in India were foreign travellers who contracted the variant, first detected in South Africa, from abroad. All first cases of Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka were international travellers. However, the situation changed within a month as now the Omicron cases are mostly those with no international travel history.