As many as 101 cases of Omicron variant of Covid-19 so far have been detected across 11 states and Union Territories, the government said on Friday.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, Joint Secretary of Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said 32 case of Omicron variant of Covid-19 were reported in Maharashtra, 22 in Delhi, 17 in Rajasthan, eight each in Karnataka and Telangana, five each in Gujarat and Kerala, one each in Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, respectively. He said the variant had been found in 91 countries in the world.
"The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that Omicron is spreading faster than the Delta variant in South Africa where Delta circulation was low. It's likely Omicron will outpace Delta variant where community transmission occurs," Agarwal said.
The Health Ministry official further lauded the country's Covid-19 vaccination drive and said India was administering Covid-19 vaccine doses at the highest rate in the world and the daily rate of doses administered was 4.8 times the rate of doses administered in the USA and 12.5 times the rate of doses administered in the UK.
He said Kerala contributed 40.31 per cent to the total number of active cases in the country. "New daily cases were recorded below 10,000 for the past 20 days. The case positivity for the last one week was 0.65 per cent. Currently, Kerala contributes 40.31 per cent to the total number of active cases in the country," Agarwal added.
Meanwhile, with Omicron spreading fast, the government said, "We need to avoid nonessential travel, mass gatherings and New Year celebrations need to be at low intensity."
Further, districts with over five per cent Covid positivity rate needed to ensure restrictive measures until it was below 5 per cent for at least two weeks.
A new variant of Covid-19 was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) from South Africa on November 25. As per the WHO, the first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on November 9 this year.
On November 26, the WHO named the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, which has been detected in South Africa, as 'Omicron'. The WHO has classified Omicron as a 'variant of concern'.