Centre on Wednesday urged States and Union territories to strictly monitor home isolation cases of Covid-19 so that the patients do not intermingle in the community, while stressing on awareness regarding home-test kits through the rapid antigen test (RAT) for a timely identification of the disease.
States were advised to conduct surveillance and report district-wise SARI (Severe Acute Respiratory Illness) and ILI (Influenza-like Illness) cases on a daily basis and also to send these for genome sequencing to the mapped INSACOG laboratories.
They were advised to undertake test indicated proportion of international arrivals with genome sequencing of all the positive cases and identify sentinel sites for the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network to send samples for whole genome sequencing, according to a statement issued by the health ministry.
These directions were issued by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan as he chaired a high-level meeting on Wednesday to review the Covid situation in nine states– Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
Expressing concern regarding the surge in the number of cases in these states in the last one month,
Dr Vinod Paul, member (Health) NITI Aayog, said, “We need to be mindful that Covid is not gone… There is poor surveillance, poor testing and below-average vaccination in many states undergoing the present surge.”
Bhushan underlined the critical Covid control and management strategies. All districts reporting a high positivity rate need to undertake adequate testing with a higher proportion of RTPCR tests. Any laxity will result in deterioration of the situation in these districts, he said.
The states were also urged to send positive samples from large clusters and outbreaks in the community and unusual events for whole genome sequencing.
The states were urged to accelerate the free Covid vaccination for the first, second and precaution doses and requested to intensify the implementation of free precaution doses for the 18-plus population till September 30.
Director AIIMS-New Delhi, Dr Randeep Guleria advised the states to be attentive to the clinical symptoms of Covid patients and not wait till their genome sequencing is done to identify whether a cluster is emerging.
The states need to be attentive to the changing pattern of clinical manifestation of hospitalised patients, Guleria said.
Be ready for new variants as Covid cases rise: WHO chief
World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Wednesday that the world must be ready for new variants of the coronavirus as Covid-19 infections rise.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the statement at a press conference amid the onset of new variants that are more transmissible, immune evasive and growing concerns about greater hospitalisations of Covid patients.
Earlier, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan had warned about fresh Covid-19 waves. There is mounting evidence that suggests that Omicron subvariants –BA.4 and BA.5 – are infecting people who have been vaccinated against the infection.