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69% of new COVID-19 cases are of the omicron variant in Dhaka: Health Minister Maleque

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2022-01-17 15:24:13 BdST

COVID cases are surging across the country with the highly-contagious omicron variant on the loose. The government has mandated masks and other health regulations for all, yet many students who arrived for Holy Cross entrance exams with their parents were in flagrant violation of the rules. Photo taken on Friday, Jan 14, 2022.

The omicron variant is responsible for nearly 69 percent of new COVID-19 patients in Dhaka, says Minister of Health and Family Welfare Zahid Maleque.

The discovery was made after testing samples from new coronavirus patients in Dhaka, Maleque told the media at the Secretariat on Sunday.

“Genome sequencing of the samples we collected in Dhaka showed that 69 percent of them were infected by the omicron variant,” he said. “This used to be as low as 13 percent. We found this in the past 10 days. We believe the rate will be similar outside Dhaka as well.”

Last Wednesday, Zahid Maleque had said that ’15-20 percent’ of new COVID cases were of the omicron variant. That was also the first day a case of the omicron variant was found outside Dhaka.

The government is concerned that the caseload is growing significantly, Maleque said, urging everyone to follow health rules.

“The number of delta and omicron cases is growing by leaps and bounds,” he said. “We are somewhat concerned and worried. In the past 15 days, the positivity rate has soared to 18 percent. If it keeps going like this, it won’t take long before the positivity rate is over 30 percent.”

“The number of hospitalisations is also on the rise. If it continues this way, there will be no space for patients within a month or a month and a half. It will be difficult to treat everyone. And so, I call on the people and request that they follow health regulations. Maintain social distancing.”

The first official cases of the omicron variant in Bangladesh were recorded on Dec 11 in two women cricketers who had returned from a tournament in Zimbabwe.

According to the GISAID website, another case was logged on Dec 27, another four on Dec 28, three on Dec 31, 10 on Jan 6, one on Jan 7, nine on Jan 10, three on Jan 12 and 22 on Sunday.

The first case of the variant was recorded in Dhaka’s Basabo area. Patients were then found in Banani and Mohakhali. The new variant has also been found in Jashore, Dhaka’s Chankharpul and Uttara.

Last Wednesday, the health minister said the variant had reached the community transmission level.