The daily rate of reported cases of COVID-19, led by the Omicron variant, has continued to surge in Georgia with a record of 15,762 new infections registered today, all the while the health officials expect the number to soar further in the next two weeks.
Chief of National Center for Disease Control, Amiran Gamkrelidze said in a press briefing today that about 90% of the new infections are estimated to be the Omicron variant. Also, he argued that considering the high daily rate of positivity – 21.24% – Georgia should estimate that it has about three or four times the COVID cases that get reported.
According to Gamkrelidze, Georgia has confirmed both of the existing lineages of the Omicron variant – the orginal mutation and its sister variant. He argued the surge could be attributed to the latter, which transmits the virus even faster, but is less severe.
“The key message should be that if you are beginning to experience symptoms of a respiratory infection… cough, headache, runny nose, sore throat and increased temperature it is not necessary to get tested at several facilities for confirmation… you should assume that it is Omicron and stay home,” the NCDC official stated.
Gamkrelidze said they proposed to the Interagency Coordination Council, tasked with managing the coronavirus in the country, to temporarily halt testing for asymptomatic individuals except for the medical personnel from February, presumably not to overburden the testing centers.
Despite the surge in the COVID cases, the authorities are not eyeing imposing additional restrictions. Deputy Health Minister Tamar Gabunia said new regulations are not necessary because the healthcare sector has been able to bear the “dramatically increased” number of infections.
Additionally, she argued that the expected hospitalization rate for Omicron infection stands at about 1-2%, a number she said is manageable with hospital beds currently available.
In the meantime, to boost Georgia’s sluggish vaccination drive, the authorities have continued their incentive program for those over 50 years into February.
Those in the age group will continue receiving GEL 200 (USD 65) for their first shot, while, and as per the latest decision, those who opt for a booster (third) jab will also get GEL 100 (USD 32.5).
Georgia has seen a spike in reported COVID-19 cases since mid-January, after the relatively slowed rate of infections at the end of December.
It registered the first record-breaking increase on January 18 with 7,521 infections, a number that has more than doubled today. On average, Georgia reported 9,756 daily infections over the course of the past seven days.
Meanwhile, according to NCDC, to date, only 1,210,361 individuals, around 42% of the adult population, are fully vaccinated in the country. In total, 1,322,175 persons, 46% of the respective population, have received at least one shot. On average 5,874 shots were administered daily over the past week, which includes booster shots as well.
Georgia’s rate of vaccination still falls short of the health authorities’ goal to have 60% of the grown-up population (about 1,7 mln.) jabbed by the end of 2021.