A health worker collects a swab sample from a woman to test for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a governement hospital in Hyderabad. (Photo: AFP)
New Delhi: Although COVID-19 cases are showing a downward trend in the big cities, the ICU admissions and deaths are being driven by patients with comorbidities, people who are immunocompromised, and the aged.
The current figures of new COVID-19 cases stand at 2,85,914 with 665 deaths and 2,99,073 recoveries in the last 24 hours. The positivity rate dipped to 15.52 per cent yesterday, however it rose to 16.16 per cent in the last 24 hours.
Speaking to ANI, Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Apollo Hospital said, "It is comorbidity which is causing ICU admissions. Even before COVID-19, people with comorbidities, extreme age require ICU admission quite a few times with any of the infections. Rather than Omicron causing ICU admissions, it is the comorbidities, because superimposed infection which happens to be Omicron is causing the ICU admission."
"When numbers are high, deaths actually follow them. Cases have started coming down in metropolitans but people actually die a couple of weeks down the line. They become more serious and come up with more complications and start dying. Thus, the discrepancy occurs that when peak has already been seen and cases are reducing each day (especially in Mumbai and Delhi) the deaths have slightly risen and this what happens epidemiologically," Dr Chatterjee said.
Although Omicron so far has shown milder symptoms with high recovery rate, but, in India with rural India having a larger population, if more people get infected, especially people with comorbidities, the immunocompromised, it might cause a burden on the health infrastructure.
In this perspective the expert observed, "With major population staying in rural India, if more and more people gets infected especially those with comorbidities, immunocompromised -- if they start getting infected in a rural setting or in a smaller city, setting the health infrastructure might come under immense pressure."
The latest variant of concern that was first detected in South Africa is causing a milder disease but it has 70 times more transmissibility and the percentage of positivity remains high.
Although hospitalization has so far been not required as frequently as compared to the second wave, patients with comorbidities require hospital admissions and ICU beds.
Earlier health experts had cautioned that with a large number of people living in rural India, the country is yet to see the peak.