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India reports 9,216 new COVID-19 infections after first Omicron cases

India reports 9,216 new COVID-19 infections after first Omicron cases
December 3, 2021 Web Desk

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India reported 9,216 new COVID-19 infections on Friday after announcing its first two Omicron cases the previous day.

Total COVID-19 cases have now reached 34.62 million, health ministry data showed. Deaths rise by 391 to a total of 470,115.

India expects the Omicron variant of coronavirus to cause less severe disease, the health ministry said on Friday, thanks to vaccinations and high prior exposure to the Delta variant that infected nearly 70% of the population by July.

As many as 84% have received at least one dose, with more than 125 million people due for a second by the end of November, as the government pushes more to get inoculated in the face of Omicron.

"Given the fast pace of vaccination in India and high exposure to Delta variant ... the severity of the disease is anticipated to be low," the ministry said in a statement. "However, scientific evidence is still evolving."

Both of India's first two Omicron patients, reported on Thursday, showed mild symptoms, the ministry added. read more

But concern over the prospect of a third wave of infections has grown after the variant was found in the southern state of Karnataka, in one person with no recent travel history.

The ministry told parliament its immunisation experts were weighing the need for booster doses, after many lawmakers demanded a third shot for healthcare workers and the vulnerable.

It added that discussions on vaccinating the 145 million children aged between 12 and 17 were underway.

New cases have plateaued at about 10,000 in the last few weeks after hospitals and health care facilities were swamped in April and May by a record second surge of infections and deaths unleashed by the Delta variant.