India reported more than 16,000 cases of the new coronavirus on Friday, up 27% from the day before, according to the country’s health ministry — as doctors brace for a possible third wave led by the highly contagious variant Omicron.
The number of Omicron cases in India has more than tripled this week, with at least 1,270 infections recorded, compared to 358 last Friday.
Health Minister Lav Agarwal described it as a “sharp increase” during a press conference Thursday.
According to the head of India’s Covid-19 task force, VK Paul, the rise “could be part of the global rise in cases pushed by Omicron”.
“This alternative is highly transferable and that may explain the speed with which it is rising,” he said on Thursday.
Meanwhile, as five Indian states prepare for elections in early 2022, political parties have held a number of events that have drawn large crowds, particularly in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous.
Many people have stopped wearing face masks, and are getting tested less often than before.
local restrictions: While the national government has not issued any restrictions on large gatherings, it has set Covid protocols for countries to enforce depending on their local situation. At least 13 states and several major cities have imposed restrictions.
In the capital, New Delhi, all social, cultural, political and festival gatherings are banned until further notice. Bars and restaurants at 50% capacity, with face masks required to enter. Gyms and swimming pools are completely closed. A night curfew was announced on Tuesday.
In Mumbai, all social, religious and political gatherings – Including weddings and professional jobs – Maximum 50% indoors and 25% outdoors until further notice.
Vaccination status: More than 63% of India’s adult population was fully vaccinated as of Thursday, according to the health ministry, while 90% are “partially vaccinated”.
India has reported a total of 34.8 million cases of Covid-19 and 481,080 related deaths, according to the ministry.
Read more about Omicron and India: