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The third wave of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the country may peak on 23 January with daily cases expected to stay below the four lakh mark, as per a scientist from the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur.

The national capital, Mumbai and Kolkata have already reached their peak in case numbers in the past seven days, Manindra Agrawal said, a professor at IIT Kanpur and one of the researchers associated with the Sutra Covid model.

The Sutra model has been used to track and predict Covid case numbers in the country since the beginning of the pandemic.

Agrawal said that the Covid-19 cases will peak in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Haryana this week, while states like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, and Tamil Nadu may peak next week.

“The daily peak cases are projected to peak on January 23 in India and stay below the four lakh mark. Metro cities Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata have already peaked," Agrawal told news agency PTI.

“Trajectory with data up to 11th indicates the peak on 23th Jan with nearly 7.2 lakh cases per day. The actual trajectory is already deviating significantly, and the actual peak is unlikely to cross 4 lakh cases/day," Agrawal wrote on Twitter.

Agrawal had earlier predicted that the third wave of coronavirus will peak by January end.

“Across the country, the trajectories are changing significantly. I speculated earlier that it is due to ICMR guidelines for a changed testing strategy. However, at many places, these guidelines are not yet implemented and still, the trajectory has changed!" he said.

According to a new government advisory, individuals undertaking inter-state domestic travel and contacts of confirmed Covid cases do not need to get tested unless identified as “high risk" based on age or comorbidities,

In his view, there are two plausible reasons for the change in the Omicron-led case trajectory in India.

“There are two groups in the population, one with less immunity against Omicron and the other with more. The mutant first spread in the first group causing a sharp rise. Now the first group is exhausted and so the spread is slower," he explained.

Agrawal noted that there was a lot of concern when the Omicron variant started spreading in November last year.

However, he said, in the last week or so, people almost everywhere have concluded that the variant causes only “mild infection" and have decided to handle it with standard remedies instead of getting tested.

Previously, a study conducted by a different research team at the institute showed that the third wave of the pandemic in India might peak by February 3.

That study, posted on the preprint repository MedRxiv on December 23, studied the trend of the Omicron-led surge in COVID-19 cases in other countries and predicted that India too will witness a similar trajectory.

Meanwhile, with 2,82,970 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, India's total tally Covid-19 cases rose to 3,79,01,241, which includes 8,961 cases of the Omicron variant, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday.

The active cases have increased to 18,31,000, the highest in 232 days. The active cases stood at 18,95,520 on May 31 last year.

The death toll has climbed to 4,87,202 with 441 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 am stated.

There has been an 0.79 per cent increase in Omicron cases since Tuesday, the ministry said.

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