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In the last couple of days, India has seen a massive jump in its daily COVID-19 cases. As per the latest government data, India has registered 7,830 fresh cases in the last 24 hours, the highest in over seven months. Are these signs of an upcoming new wave of COVID-19 in India? Should we brace for a new COVID-19 wave? In answer to the most asked question about a possible fifth wave of coronavirus in the country, the Health Ministry officials said the infection is now in the endemic stage. What does an endemic stage mean? In an endemic stage, an infection is restricted to a particular region whereas in a pandemic, the infection spreads to a bigger area or even worldwide. The government health officials also said that Covid cases in the country will rise for the next 10-12 days and then subside. "There's no need to worry over the latest uptick in infections across the country. Cases will subside after 10-12 days," officials quoted as saying.
The highly mutated Omicron variant of COVID-19 has mutated several times, and every time it has given rise to more powerful strains with better features to evade the immune system of the human body. In the latest, The XBB.1.16 subvariant of Omicron, also known as Arcturus, which is driving the latest surge, is so far the most contagious strain of the virus. It can infect both fully vaccinated and those who have recovered from covid recently. Will this variant lead to a 2nd wave (delta dominant) like a wave in India? Not really, the government sources said that although most cases at the moment are dominated by the XBB.1.16 variant of COVID-19, it is still a mild variant which will not lead to any severity post-infection "The XBB.1.16 is not a cause of worry and vaccines are effective against it," they said.
As per experts, the subvariant's prevalence increased from 21.6% in February to 35.8% in March, but no incident of hospitalisation or death has been reported.
Amid a sudden rise in the cases associated with the newly detected Arcturus variant of COVID-19 in India, the government has made wearing face coverings in public compulsory again in some states, being the first time in more than a year. Taking cognizance of the situation, the health ministry also launched mock drills this week in an attempt to see if hospitals are prepared to deal with a possible influx of patients.