Health minister Veena George on Thursday said that at least 94 percent of the COVID-19 cases in Kerala are triggered by the new omicron variant and next three weeks are crucial for the state after which cases will flatten, 

On Thursday, Kerala reported 51,739 fresh COVID-19 cases with a test positivity rate of 44.6 per cent after 116,003 samples were tested. Kerala also reported as many as 11 deaths and added 57 previous undocumented deaths, taking total fatalities to 52,434.

Also read: Anti-mask anger forces Colorado children’s museum to close

“Genome sequencing tests show 94 per cent cases are triggered by omicron and 6 per cent by Delta variant. Among the new cases, only 3.6 per cent patients need hospitalisation and use of ICU dropped considerably,” said the minister in the state capital.

“Unlike the second wave there is no pressure on hospital infrastructure this time. More than 90 per cent of the affected are confined to their homes and people with serious comorbidities are getting hospitalised,” the minister said, adding that strict action will be taken against private hospitals if they turn away COVID patients. 

Also read: COVID-19 : Omicron dominant variant in India now, says centre

According to an analysis of the hospital statistics, during the peak of the second wave (May 2021), more than 80 per cent of total beds were occupied but this time it is below 30 per cent. Similarly more than 60 per cent of the oxygen beds were occupied during the second wave but this time it is below 20 per cent.

“Though omicron is more infectious, its intensity is low when compared to Delta. We found that many people are taking antibiotics across the counter and this is really bad. Affected people with simple fever can remain at their home and take enough water to check dehydration,” said the minister.

Also read: Omicron subvariant BA.2 more contagious, not severe: Denmark

Of the 51,739 fresh cases reported on Thursday, Ernakulam logged the highest (9,708), followed by Thiruvananthapuram (7,675) and Kozhikode (5,001).

As the cases mounted, the government has asked local bodies to start community kitchens across the state. Since many families are getting affected completely, they face shortage of food forcing the government to start community kitchens, which was a hit during two earlier waves.

Also read: England rolls back COVID curbs as omicron threat recedes

The health department has also set up COVID war rooms in every district and a minister will be made in-charge to take speedy decisions. It also decided to ramp up COVID first-line treatment centres and seek the help of health volunteers.