Three cases of omicron variant of covid-19 stand confirmed in Jammu. While identified already, the cases had no international travel history. This is cause of worry for all. At the same time, the government’s response thus far has been far swift compared to earlier this year when the Delta variant began to make its presence felt.
Not only J&K, there are indications that all governments across the country have learnt valuable lessons in preparedness from the nearly two-year-long confrontation with the pathogen.
Despite measures the variant has dispersed to many states and UTs. Some of the alarm is understandable. But given the data about the variant doesn’t yet convey the magnitude of the threat it poses, the best recourse would be to remain unflinching about Covid protocols while the scientists and medical experts do their job.
Health officials have confirmed a number of infections from the Omicron variant in India, around fortnight after the World Health Organization designated it as a variant of concern (VOC). The extent of the transmission is still evolving. So far only three cases have been confirmed in J&K or Ladakh. There is no room for complexity either, considering what has been seen in South Africa, where the variant seems to be spreading rapidly.
It is also true that there is little known about how significant a threat Omicron poses besides being readily transmissible. It is not known if this variant leads to more severe, or milder, illness and it will take weeks before one of the most crucial questions is answered: How does it affect people who have had a past infection, vaccine shots, or both?
United States health officials said that while the omicron variant is rapidly spreading, early indications suggest it may be less dangerous than delta, which continues to drive a surge of hospitalizations globally.
It is also true that undue alarm will only serve to create a distraction at a time when the focus needs to be on scientific evidence but there is need for covid-19 appropriate behavior as been rightly asked to be adhered to by the officials given the fact that WHO has said that measures that work again delta variant work against omicron also.
So, while authorities have done well to bolster surveillance at airports, they must also make sure that there is no let-up in the general levels of testing and contact tracing.