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The Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences' Department of Clinical Virology (ILBS), New Delhi has found out evidence of early community transmission of Omicron (B1.1.529) variant of Covid-19, reported news agency ANI.

Delhi is currently witnessing a surge of Covid-19 cases which is believed to be driven by the Omicron variant.

About 38 per cent of the total samples analysed at various genome sequencing laboratories in Delhi in the past one week have been detected with Omicron variant of Covid, according to officials documents, as the cases of the new variant saw a record spike in this period in the national capital.

The documents shared by official sources also showed that of the 468 samples analysed during December 21-28, the Delta variant of coronavirus was detected in 31 per cent of these samples, and the rest constituted other variants.

These samples were analysed at labs at NCDC, ILBS and LNJP Hospital, the sources said.

A senior official in the South East district administration said that out of 14 Omicron cases, seven did not have any travel history.

The official also claimed that the new variant has been "spreading in the community", even as he didn't divulge any further details.

A senior doctor here, on the condition of anonymity, also claimed that Omicron variant of Covid has "begun to spread in the community" as its carriers are mostly asymptomatic, and hence they do not realise that they have been infected.

The person coming in contact also do not get cautioned in absence of symptoms, who in turn transmit it to family members and acquaintances, the doctor added.

The national capital on Friday recorded 24,383 COVID-19 cases, a 15.5 per cent decline from a day earlier, even as the positivity rate mounted to 30.64 per cent, indicating that every third sample collected for a coronavirus test returned a positive report in the past 24 hours.

Thirty-four fatalities were also reported on Friday, according to data shared by the Delhi health department.

On Thursday, 28,867 COVID-19 cases were reported, which was the sharpest single-day spike since the beginning of the pandemic, when the city had conducted 98,832 tests.

However, Friday's figure of coronavirus cases came out of 79,578 tests, with a senior government official saying the drop in cases may be due to lower testing

"The low number of tests can be attributed to the change in testing guidelines. In an advisory issued earlier this week, the (central) government had said that asymptomatic patients undergoing surgical/non-surgical invasive procedures should not be tested unless warranted or symptoms develop," the official said.

The active cases in the city stand at 92,273, of which 64,831 are in home isolation. The number of containment zones is 27,531.

According to the data, the positivity rate recorded on Friday is the highest since May 1 last year when it was 31.61 per cent. In the last 24 hours, 26,236 COVID-19 patients have also recovered from the virus, it said.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said although COVID-19 cases are rising fast in the national capital, there is no reason to worry, and asserted that hospitalisation and death rates are quite low.

He asked people to be responsible and assured them that the government has made all preparations and enough hospital beds are available.

Kejriwal also said restrictions, imposed in view of the surge in coronavirus cases, will be tightened, if necessary, "but if corona cases begin to decline, we will relax the restrictions".

The government said that 2,529 patients are currently in hospitals, and as many as 815 patients are on oxygen support, including 99 who are on ventilator.

On his part, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said that more than 75 per cent of those who succumbed to the coronavirus infection in the current wave in Delhi were unvaccinated.

Out of the 97 people who died here due to COVID-19, between January 9 to January 12, 70 people were unvaccinated, while 19 had taken the first jab and eight were fully vaccinated. Besides seven were minors.

"More than 75 per cent of the people who died due to coronavirus had not even taken a single dose of the vaccine. Ninety per cent of the people had severe comorbidities like cancer and kidney ailments. Even the seven patients below 18 years had chronic issues," Jain noted.

Jain on Thursday expressed hope that the cases might start declining soon.

The increase in cases can be attributed to the increase in the number of tests in Delhi, he had said on a day when the Delhi had recorded 28,867 infections after conducting nearly one lakh tests.

The health minister had also welcomed the Centre's new guidelines for COVID-19 testing, saying "if you do not have any symptoms, are aged below 60 and do not have any comorbidity, you do not need to get tested."

Though the number of COVID-19 cases in the city rose almost by nine times between January 1 and 14, the percentage of patients on ventilator support in city hospitals grew only by double during the same period, government data showed.

*With inputs from agencies



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