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'Pandemic within a pandemic'! What guidelines states should follow to avoid Omicron COVID-19 variant? Know details here
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level meeting with states and union territories UTs to review COVID-19 public health response measures and preparedness amid reports of Omicron variant of COVID-19
Omicron Guidelines: Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level meeting with states and union territories UTs to review COVID-19 public health response measures and preparedness amid reports of Omicron variant of COVID-19 across various countries on Tuesday. Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, was also present at the meeting.
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Dr. Paul termed the emergence of the new COVID19 variant as a “pandemic within a pandemic” He further stated that the country is richer in its knowledge of management of COVID19. He again underlined the continued importance of COVID Appropriate behavior, avoiding large gatherings and ramping up vaccination. Noting the critical role of vaccination as a powerful defense against COVID19, the 'Har Ghar Dastak' vaccination campaign has been extended till December 31, 2021, with focus on 100 per cent first dose coverage, and completing backlog of second dose vaccination.
The meeting was also attended by Shri 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.
The Union Health Secretary advised 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 suggestions given to the states and the union territories are as follows:
1) Undertake effective Surveillance of International Passengers - Testing of samples of international travelers coming from 'At Risk' Countries on 1st Day and retesting on 8th Day needs to be done. International passengers from 'at risk' countries are being advised to prepare to wait at the airports till the report of the RT-PCR test has come and not book connecting flights beforehand.
2) To send all positive samples for genome sequencing to INSACOG Labs (mapped with states) promptly. States to undertake contact tracing of positive individuals and follow up for 14 days.
3) Enhance Testing - The states have been advised to strengthen the testing infrastructure and strictly implement the testing guidelines. Stats to ensure ample testing in each district while maintaining RT-PCR ratio.
4) Effective Monitoring of Hotspots - The states must continue monitoring of areas where recent cluster of positive cases have emerged. Furthermore, the states must ensure sending of all positive samples for genome sequencing to designated INSACOG Lab in a prompt manner.
5) Effective and regular monitoring of home isolation cases, with physical visits to homes of passengers from “at-risk” countries. The status of those who are negative after the test on the 8th day to also be physically monitored by the state administration.
6) Ensuring augmentation of Health Infrastructure - The states must ensure preparedness of health infrastructure (availability of ICU, O2 beds, ventilators, etc.). To implement ECRP-II, with focus on rural areas and for paediatric cases. Early implementation of sanctioned PSA plants, along with ensuring seamless supply of logistics, drugs, oxygen cylinders and others.
7) Co-ordinate with APHOs for list of positive travelers, including details of all international travelers and strengthen support to them for effective surveillance.
8) Effective and timely coordination between State admin, BOI officials, APHOs, Port health officers (PHOs) and Land Border Crossing Officers (LBCOs) stressed upon.
9) States advised for meetings today with BOI, APHO, PHO and other relevant officials to ensure smooth implementation of the new Guidelines for International Travelers which come into effect from midnight today.
10) Daily monitoring by the State Surveillance Officer to track and contain the spread of transmission of any VoCs in the country, especially from any recent clusters of positive cases.
11) Regular dissemination of evidence and science based information on the merging scenario to be shared with the masses through weekly media briefings reemphasized.
Earlier today, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya said at the Rajya Sabha today that so far, no case of COVID-19 Omicron variant has been reported in India.
A PTI report last Thursday stated that the Centre has asked all states and union territories to conduct rigorous screening and testing of all international travellers coming from or transiting through South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana, where a new COVID-19 variant of serious public health implications has been reported.
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