Updated: November 28, 2021 5:55:45 pm
With WHO having classified Omicron as a variant of concern, the Health Ministry has directed the states to review the detailed travel history of passengers arriving via international flights and to absolutely ensure that travellers from “at-risk” countries are tested. All samples which test Covid-positive should be promptly sent for genome sequencing, the ministry said.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, while highlighting to the states the need for rigorous surveillance of international passengers said that there is “already a reporting mechanism for obtaining past travel details of passengers coming through international flight”.
“…this should be reviewed at your level and the protocol provided by this Ministry should be strictly ensured including testing on disembarkation of international travellers coming from “At Risk” Countries and sending all positive samples for genome sequencing to INSACOG Labs in a prompt manner,” Bhushan told the states.
Bhushan also urged the states to significantly increase the number of tests conducted on the general population and send all Covid-positive samples for genome sequencing. “INSACOG has been established to monitor the circulating variants in the country. It is important at this juncture that States must significantly increase sampling from the general population/community for genome sequencing by sending these samples to INSACOG Lab network as per the policy,” Bhushan told the states.
The Health Ministry has also asked the states to ensure continuous monitoring of hotspots, which are areas where a recent cluster of positive cases have emerged.
“In all such “hotspots”, saturation testing and sending of positive samples quickly for genome sequencing to designated INSACOG Labs must be ensured in collaboration with Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). States should keep a close check on the emerging trend of cases and the positivity in an area and quickly delineate hotspots for effective containment of Covid-19,” Bhushan told the states.
The Health Ministry has directed the states to implement a four-pronged approach to effectively manage the situation in the backdrop of reports of the Omicron variant having spread to many countries. Bhushan told the states to implement intensive containment measures and active surveillance of Covid-19 cases.
The ministry has also asked the states to increase vaccination coverage and to enforce Covid-appropriate behaviour “in a very proactive manner”.
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