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As Omicron worry spreads, Centre reviews states’ preparedness

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New Delhi: Amid reports of Omicron variant of coronavirus emerging in several countries, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level meeting with states/Union Territories to review Covid-19 public health response measures and preparedness.

Besides Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, the meeting was attended by Rajiv Bansal, Secretary, MoCA, Dr Balram Bhargava, Secretary (Health Research) & DG ICMR, Dr Sujeet K Singh, Director, NCDC, State Health Secretaries, MDs (NHM), representative from Ministry of External Affairs, Bureau of Immigration (BOI), State Airport Public Health Officials (APHOs) and other officials from the states/UTs.

Bhushan reiterated that the revised guidelines and advisories of the health ministry in view of Omicron have been shared with the states. He called upon states to not to let their guards down, and keep a strict vigil on the international passengers coming to the country through various airports, ports and land border crossings.

The states were specially advised to undertake effective surveillance of international passengers. Testing of those coming from countries “At Risk” need to be done on day of arrival and on the eighth day. International passengers from such countries are being advised to be ready to wait at the airports till the report of the RT-PCR test arrive, and not book connecting flights beforehand.

All positive samples have to be sent for genome sequencing to INSACOG Labs (mapped with states) promptly. States will have to undertake contact tracing of positive individuals and follow up for 14 days. The states and UTs have also instructed to strengthen testing infrastructure and strictly implement testing guidelines.

Terming the reported emergence of Omicron as a “pandemic within a pandemic”, Dr V K Paul stated that the country is richer in its knowledge of management of Covid-19.  He again underlined the continued importance of Covid-appropriate behaviour, avoiding large gatherings and ramping up vaccination.

RT-PCR, RAT can detect Omicron

DG, ICMR said that the Omicron variant doesn’t escape RTPCR and RAT. Hence, states were advised to ramp up testing for prompt and early identification of any cases. States were advised for target/prioritized testing of passengers from countries not “at-risk”, as part of the ramped up testing by the states.

 

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