Amid mounting concerns over the potentially more contagious coronavirus variant Omicron spreading to many countries, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan held a review meeting with states and UTs on Tuesday and advised them to ramp up testing for early identification and management of cases.
While underlining that the new variant doesn’t escape RT-PCR and RAT tests, Bhushan asked states and UTs to ensure adequate infrastructure and supervised home isolation, a Union Health Ministry official said.
According to government officials, no case of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus has been detected in India yet.
ln view of the possible threat that the new Variant of Concern (VoC ) can pose to the nation, the ministry has asked all states and UTs to focus on intensive containment, active surveillance, enhanced testing, monitoring of hotspots, increased coverage of vaccination, and ensure augmentation of health infrastructure.
In a letter to states and UTs on November 28, Bhushan also stressed rigorous surveillance of international passengers, ensuring prompt dispatch of samples for genome sequencing and strict enforcement of Covid Appropriate Behaviour to effectively manage this VoC.
The B.1.1.529 Covid variant or Omicron, first detected in South Africa last week, was designated by the World Health Organisation as a ‘variant of concern’, the health body’s top category for worrying coronavirus variants.
A senior official said no case of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus has been detected in India yet and Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia INSACOG is closely monitoring the situation and expediting the results of genomic analysis of positive samples of international travelers.
The Centre on Sunday introduced stricter guidelines for people traveling from or transiting through ‘at-risk countries and issued a slew of directions to the states for ramping up testing-surveillance measures and health facilities.
It also decided to review the resumption of international flights.
The countries designated as ‘at-risk (updated as of November 26) include European countries, the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel.