People should avoid non-essential travel and mass gatherings, and should keep new year festivities low key in the wake of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, Indian Council of Medical Research Chief Balram Bhargava said on Friday.

At a press conference, Bhargava said that districts that are reporting a test positivity rate of over 5% need to “ensure restrictive measures” until the rate goes below 5% for at least two weeks.

Agarwal said that there are currently 19 districts where the Covid-19 test positivity rate is between 5% and 10%.

India reported 7,447 new cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, according to the Union health ministry. The country currently has 86,415 active Covid-19 cases.

Luv Agarwal, the joint secretary in the Union health ministry, said that a total of 101 cases of the Omicron variant have been reported in the country till now from 11 states and Union Territories. According to the health ministry’s data, Maharashtra has reported the most cases of the variant (32) till now, followed by Delhi (22), and Rajasthan (17).

Cases of the Omicron variant have also been reported in Karnataka (8), Telangana (8), Gujarat (5) and Kerala (5). One case each has been reported from Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

Agarwal quoted the World Health Organization to say that the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly in places where the circulation of the Delta variant was low, such as South Africa. “It also appears to spread more quickly than Delta where the incidence of Delta is high, such as in the United Kingdom,” the official said.

The health ministry said that it is likely that Omicron will outpace Delta where community transmission of the new variant occurs.