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Omicron BA.2 continues to be dominant variant of concern in Karnataka – Mrit News

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This has not translated to a huge spike of COVID-19 cases in Karnataka unlike in other places 

This has not translated to a huge spike of COVID-19 cases in Karnataka unlike in other places 

Although a fourth wave of COVID-19 had been predicted in the last week of May or first week of June, the situation so far has been good in Karnataka. The latest genome sequencing data of SARS-CoV-2 in the State has not shown emergence of any new variants and the dominant variant of concern (VoC) continues to be Omicron BA.2 till May end.

According to genome sequencing data from the State Health Department, the presence of Omicron BA.2 that was detected in 87% of the sequenced samples in the first week of February has increased to 96.5% in May end. 

Of the 1,647 samples sequenced in May, a total of 1,645 were Omicron infected. This included 1,587 (96.5%) samples infected with Omicron BA.2 and 58 that were infected with Omicron B.1.1.529. Only two samples had Delta and its sub-lineages.

During March and April, of the 2,364 COVID samples were  sequenced. Of these, 2,162 (92.4%) were found to be infected with Omicron BA.2 variant. In February, 1,936 (89.8%) of the  2,155 samples sequenced had Omicron BA.2 variant.

No rise in hospitalisations

With a slight increase in the number of new cases in the last few days, there has been a marginal rise in the week-on-week caseload too. From 908 cases reported in the week prior to May 26, the number has increased to 1,338 in the week prior to June 2. However, no significant increase in clusters or hospital admissions has been noted during this period in the State.

Of the total 2,260 active cases in the State as of June 4, only nine patients have been admitted in hospitals. And all of them have occupied general beds in government hospitals. 

State Health Commissioner Randeep D. told The Hindu that the rise in BA.2 variant had not translated into a huge spike of COVID cases in Karnataka, unlike in some countries.  “Although this variant continues to be transmissible, the virulence has subsided both because of natural immunity and vaccine induced immunity,” he said.

Standard protocol

“Besides, the State now has a standardised treatment protocol for symptomatic COVID-19 patients. This has helped in both in-patient and out-patient care. A combination of these factors has ensured that although cases are slightly rising, the number of hospitalisations and deaths are minimal. However, the State has continued a vigilant approach in COVID surveillance,” the commissioner said.

Pointing out that a few family clusters were being reported only in Bengaluru, he said the vulnerable population including unvaccinated children and those with comorbidities continue to be at risk. It is essential for people to scrupulously follow  COVID-19 mask usage and avoid crowding, the Commissioner added.

C.N. Manjunath, member of the State’s Clinical Experts Committee, said there is always a gap of four to six weeks between a surge in other States and Karnataka. “Although other States have been seeing a surge in cases for the past few weeks, the situation is holding on in Karnataka as of now. But we have to watch for another three-four weeks.  Unvaccinated children and those who have not taken the booster dose should get vaccinated now,” Dr. Manjunath added.

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