Updated: November 30, 2021 7:59:47 am
In view of the emergence of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus, the district administration in Pune has started preparation in the event of a possibility of another wave even as it plans on holding special drives to help dispel misconception about the infection in order to avert panic among citizens.
Divisional Commissioner Sourabh Rao said the administration has taken steps to ensure there is no dearth of oxygen, medicines and other infrastructure necessary in case of increased number of cases.
Speaking at a virtual seminar organised by Pune Platform for Covid Response, Rao said the district administration would launch a special information and communication drive to help dispel misconceptions about the virus and to speed up the vaccination process.
Dr R R Gangakhedkar, former ICMR epidemiologist, said vaccines would not be completely ineffective against the new concern. “There is no reason to panic and take steps that could be counter productive,” he said.
He said there were a lot of uncertainties following the emergence of the Omicron variant due to the high number of mutations. “However, we do not have any data so far that hospitalisation or deaths have increased in South Africa. The only data is that there is increase in transmission efficiency. However, these are still early days,” he said.
Dr Gangakhedkar stressed on the importance of “test, track and isolate” strategy in case of new infections, adding, “We will have to motivate people to come and get tested if there are symptoms.”
Emphasising on vaccinations, he said the administration should ensure the highest level of vaccine coverage so that the country is better placed in terms of handling an outbreak, if it happens.
“Let’s not look at daily new infections as a major indicator. They will keep occurring but hospitalisations and deaths need to be checked,” he said. Rao said the Pune district administration is keen on quickly vaccinating all eligible citizens. “We have wonderful institutes such as NIV, NCL, NCCS, IISER and BJMC, which are working hand-in-hand to step up genomic sequencing.”
SK Malhotra, former president of Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA), pressed for reduction in time gap between two doses of the vaccine and pushed for booster shots for the elderly or those at high risk.
Dr Gangakhedkar, though, said vaccines can’t be given too often in a short period of time. “Booster doses need evidence,” he added.
Mehta also asked for revamping of the Covid dashboard to allow people to track the bed status; Rao said it would be done soon.
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