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A total of 1,525 people in India have contracted the Omicron variant since the first case was reported in November 2021, the Health Ministry said. Maharashtra and Delhi continue to be the worst-hit states. So far, 560 people have recovered from the new strain.

The country also reported a 21 per cent jump in new Covid cases as it reported 27,553 infections today. A total of 284 people died due to the virus during the period, the data showed. Twenty-three states in India have reported the fast-spreading Omicron variant so far. Maharashtra, which has reported the most number of COVID-19 cases, has 460 Omicron cases, followed by Delhi with 351 infections.

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Meanwhile, Gujarat reported 21 cases of the new strain in the last 24 hours and now has 136 cases. Tamil Nadu, which is the fourth worst-affected state, has reported 117 cases while neighbouring Kerala has 109 cases of the new strain.

India’s Covid tally currently stands at 3,48,89, 132. Active cases account for 0.35% of the total caseload, as per the Health Ministry. The daily positivity rate is currently at 2.55 per cent.

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The data by the Health Ministry indicates that thickly populated metros, such as the national capital New Delhi, financial centre Mumbai and Kolkata, are seeing some of the sharpest rises.

Delhi recorded a 50 per cent jump in coronavirus cases on Saturday, at 2,716, with around 3.64 percent of COVID-19 tests returning positive – a high positivity rate considered one of the first signs of an impending wave of infections.

Haryana has shut cinema halls and sports complexes in Gurgaon and four other cities as part of restrictions in view of a surge in coronavirus cases and the emergence of Omicron variant. Schools are also closed till January 12.

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The Centre has asked states to set up makeshift hospitals and form special teams to ensure people don’t face any difficulty.

Since it was first detected in South Africa last month, the Omicron variant has spread across the globe in lightning speed and is now present in 106 countries. Early data indicates that it could be better at dodging some vaccine protections, spurring the rush to provide boosters.