Third Wave Might Happen After January 15: Srinivasa Rao

Hyderabad, Dec 05: The present situation of Covid-19 infections prevalent in South Africa and other countries are giving clear indications that Telangana and other parts of the country too could witness a third wave of Covid infections driven by Omicron variant around middle of January, Director of Public Health (DPH) Dr G Srinivasa Rao here on Sunday said.

“Covid infections in South Africa due to Omicron variant started gradually and then grew two times faster than Delta variant within days. In another day or two, in terms of transmissibility, Omicron became four times faster than Delta variant. Now, it has spread 16 times faster in South Africa. If the same exponential growth continues, we may witness a rise in Covid infections here probably somewhere near to January 15,” Dr Rao said.

Unlike the first and second waves, this time around, the health machinery and even the general public are far better prepared and informed about Covid-19. While State governments had imposed lockdowns and implemented other severe restrictions during the previous two Covid waves, this time around, there could not be any such severe restrictions or lockdowns, he pointed out.

“Initial indications are that despite being transmissible, Omicron induced Covid-19 could be mild. There is even a possibility that among the Indian population, Omicron might behave differently and a fresh surge may not take place at all. We should, however, be ready for the worst and prepare accordingly. This time around, I don’t see governments imposing strict lockdown,” he said.

Irrespective of whether a new surge will be mild or severe, vulnerable population will always at high-risk, he said.

“To protect vulnerable population, we have requested Union Health Ministry to introduce booster doses for frontline health and emergency workers and high risk groups, who were vaccinated about eight months ago. We are also prepared to vaccinate children, if the MOHFW gives green signal for vaccines for children,” Dr Rao said.

He acknowledged that it should not come as surprise for anybody, if an Omicron variant is reported in Telangana. “At present, Omicron variant is reported in over 30 countries and there are already five such cases in India. We should not be surprised if cases are reported in Telangana,” he said.

Dr Rao made it clear that it would take at least one more week to fully understand the severity, transmissibility and hospitalisation rate of Omicron variant. People must continue to take Covid appropriate behaviour like use of masks, physical distancing and getting vaccinated at the earliest. “At present, these are our best options,” Dr Rao added

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