Sunday, February 5, 2023

Mask up, take the jab, Covid not over yet: Centre

In view of a sudden spurt in COVID cases in China and some other countries, the Union health minister on Wednesday reviewed the situation in the country and asked people to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour, including wearing masks in crowded places, and get vaccinated.
“COVID is not over yet. I have directed all concerned to be alert and strengthen surveillance. We are prepared to manage any situation,” Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said.
During the meeting, attended by experts and senior officials, the minister was briefed on the global COVID-19 situation and the domestic scenario, including the preparedness of all stakeholders.
Noting that only 27-28 per cent of India’s eligible population have taken the precaution dose of COVID-19, NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr VK Paul, after the meeting, said people should take the jab and also wear masks in crowded places. “People should wear masks in crowded areas. Those with comorbidities and old should especially adhere to this,” Paul said.
The government will again hold a meeting next week to monitor the situation.
Underlining the challenge posed by the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in some countries across the world such as China, Japan, South Korea, France and the United States, Mandaviya noted the importance of being prepared and remaining alert against new and emerging strains of COVID-19, especially in view of the upcoming festive season.
He directed for strengthening of the surveillance system for whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through the INSACOG network to ensure the timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country.
3 cases of Omicron subvariant BF.7 detected: Three cases of Omicron subvariant BF.7, apparently the strain driving China’s current surge of Covid cases, have been detected in India so far, official sources said Wednesday.
The first case of BF.7 in India was detected in October by Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre. So far, two cases have been reported from Gujarat while one case has been reported from Odisha, they said.
“The BF.7’s high transmissibility in China might be attributed to a low level of immunity in the Chinese population from the previous infection and possibly vaccination too,” an official source said.
Chinese health experts have warned that the new wave may cause the coronavirus to mutate. He said that this could lead to even more deadly corona variants than BF.7.
Random sampling for Covid at airports: Random sample testing for coronavirus will be conducted at airports for international passengers arriving from China and other countries in view of the recent surge in cases in some parts of the world, official sources said on Wednesday.
The move comes following a meeting chaired by Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to review the Covid situation in the country. “Random sample testing will be done for international air passengers arriving from various countries including China,” a source said.

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