The Indian government has advised masking, started random testing of visitors from abroad, though numbers are not alarming yet.
Rising Covid cases in China are mainly driven by the BF.7 strain of Omicron variant of coronavirus, which has been detected in India too. Numbers may be small but here is why the government is worried, and what you should be alert to.
- BF.7 mainly causes upper respiratory infection, meaning congestion in the higher parts of the chest and near the throat. Fever, sore throat, runny nose and cough are other common symptoms.
- Some people may get stomach-related symptoms like vomiting and diarrhoea. Doctors advise that getting tested immediately is important as it can help stop the spread by ensuring early decisions on isolation and recovery drugs.
- India has been reporting fewer than 200 cases a day for several days now. As for BF.7, all four cases confirmed so far came up between July and October — three in Gujarat, one in Odisha — and the patients were isolated, treated and have recovered.
- The severity of illness in case of BF.7 is not higher, though the real worry is the sheer number of people it can infect as the spread is much faster, making early detection and isolation even more important. Recovery rate is high, but deaths in absolute numbers may be high if the spread is more than that of earlier variants.
- China is currently struggling with possibly the biggest Covid outbreak the world has seen since the coronavirus was first detected in 2019. Though official data from China is scarce, news agency Bloomberg has cited a study to say it may be recording 10 lakh cases and 5,000 deaths a day.
- BF.7 has been detected in several other countries around the world including the US, UK, Belgium, Germany, France and Denmark. But it is not necessarily behaving as dangerously in countries other than China.
- The UK, for sintance, had assessed BF.7 as among the most concerning variants two months ago, it has scaled down its estimation of how serious it is.
- In China, its wide spread may be due to a low level of immunity in the Chinese population from previous infections, and possibly vaccination too, reports have said.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi is meeting ministers and top officials to review the Covid situation in India, and states have been told to advise masks and social distancing, particularly ahead of Christmas and New Year. Mandatory restrictions are not yet back.
- The Indian government has started random testing of visitors from abroad — 2 per cent of all landing. Flight to and from China are already banned.