Expert says third wave has begun. When will it peak?
The exponential surge in the number of coronavirus cases over the last week indicates a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, Dr. NK Arora said on Tuesday. Dr. Arora is a top expert who heads the central government's task force on COVID-19 vaccination. He said that 50% of fresh cases in major Indian cities are being driven by the new Omicron variant.
'A galloping surge'
"The galloping increase in the number of COVID-19 cases over the last one week is indicative of the third wave, as is being seen in several other countries across the globe," Dr. Arora told news agency PTI.
Omicron wave peaked in South Africa: Officials
The highly-infectious Omicron variant was first reported by South Africa in late November 2021 and it has since been detected in dozens of countries. However, daily infections have started decreasing in South Africa, authorities said. Officials there said the Omicron wave may have already peaked. In the week ending on December 25, 2021, there were 89,781 confirmed new infections—down from 1,27,753 the previous week.
Similar pattern likely in India: Expert
Dr. Arora said India may see a similar pattern as it shares several epidemiological similarities with South Africa such as a high rate of natural infection. "The number of cases (in South Africa) started coming down and most of the cases were either asymptomatic or had a mild illness," he said. He added a third wave peak could arrive "very soon."
Third wave peak in February: Study
Meanwhile, according to a study by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, the third wave of COVID-19 infections in India may peak by February 3, 2022. But experts are hopeful a large chunk of new cases will be mild or asymptomatic.
India's COVID-19 situation
On Tuesday, India reported 37,379 new COVID-19 cases, a jump from Monday's count of over 33,000. The nationwide death toll also rose by 124 to 4,82,017 on Tuesday. The country has recorded 1,892 Omicron cases so far. Of them, 766 patients have recovered, migrated, or been discharged. Maharashtra has reported the highest number of Omicron cases at 568, followed by Delhi (382 infections).