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India reported 2,82,970 new coronavirus infections, the highest in eight months, on Wednesday, and a government scientist warned it will take weeks before data on hospitalisations and deaths will show how severe the latest wave driven by the new strain Omicron will be.

The country's total tally of Covid-19 cases rose to 3,79,01,241, which includes 8,961 cases of the Omicron variant. There has been an 0.79% increase in Omicron cases since Tuesday.

The federal authorities have said that the new strain was causing fewer hospitalisations and deaths than the Delta variant, which killed hundreds of thousands last year.

But Tarun Bhatnagar from the ICMR-National Institute of Epidemiology in Chennai said the impact of the current run-up in infections will show up with a lag.

"We have to worry about hospitalisation and deaths and that will come later," he told Reuters. "There will always be a lag of two-three weeks," he added.

Meanwhile, India's deaths crept up to 441 fatalities, including 83 from a previous wave that Kerala is recording only now, making the nationally tally one of the highest this year.

While infection rates have recently fallen in Mumbai and Delhi, experts say cases nationally could peak by the middle of next month.

Around 70% of its 939 million adult population has received two primary Covid-19 vaccine does and a booster campaign for health workers and at-risk population is underway. But millions still await their first shot and Bhatnagar cited reports from some states that those unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated make up more than 90% of intensive care patients.

The country also reported today the first major rise in coronavirus testing in a week after the Union health ministry warned states of the risks of missing the spread of the virus.

States performed about 1.9 million tests on Tuesday, the highest since 12 January and near India's daily testing capacity of over 2 million.

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