NEW DELHI, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Local health minister of the Indian capital region Satyendar Jain Thursday said the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 was circulating in the community and possibly the reason behind the recent increase in the number of new cases.
"COVID-19 cases have increased rapidly over the last few days. As per the genome sequencing data, 46 percent of them are Omicron cases, including people who have travel history and those who do not. This means Omicron is now in Delhi," Jain said during an online briefing about the growing COVID-19 cases.
The minister said people with no travel history are being infected with the Omicron variant and this suggests the new variant is now spreading in the community.
On Thursday morning the Omicron case tally across India reached 961, with 263 of them in the national capital.
New Delhi has already sounded a "yellow alert" over the rise in COVID-19 Omicron cases.
Yellow alert or level-I alert entails restrictions like night curfew, closure of schools and colleges, opening of non-essential shops based on an odd-even basis, halved seating capacity in Metro trains and buses among others.
"Only Delhi has taken strict measures in the whole country. For those people who are saying too many restrictions have been put in Delhi, it is better to be precautious. Maximum international travellers come to Delhi. If the federal government had banned international flights earlier, Omicron would not have entered India," said Jain.
The Indian government said with the Omicron variant "spreading rapidly," there was a need to avoid unnecessary travel and mass gatherings.