Ex-AIIMS Director Cautions Against New Omicron Variants; ‘Don’t Abandon Mask’

New Delhi: Senior health expert Dr Randeep Guleria has advised caution following the emergence of Omicron subvariants of coronavirus.

Urging people not to abandon the mask, the former director of AIIMS Delhi said the new variants have the tendency to mutate.

“If you’re going out, and especially in crowded places, then you must wear a mask. High-risk groups, elderly people should avoid going out because there are high chances of spreading infection,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.

“The situation is different now… Earlier there was no vaccination, but people are vaccinated now and have developed immunity against the virus,” he said.

Guleria added that chances of hospitalization and ICU admission remain low as the Omicron strain is considered a mild but fast-spreading variant.

India reported its first case of BQ.1 of COVID-19 – one of Omicron’s subvariants — in Maharashtra on Tuesday.

The country’s first case of XBB — a recombinant lineage between two Omicron sublineages BJ.1 and BA.2.75 – was also reported in Maharashtra.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday chaired a review meeting on the COVID-19 situation in the country.

Besides stressing on the importance of wearing masks and continuing COVID-appropriate behaviour, the minister directed officials to focus on effective implementation of surveillance strategy and strengthening genome-sequencing for early detection of variants.

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