Ramp-up testing, manage hotspots: Centre holds review meet with states amid omicron scare
New Delhi, Nov 30: The central government on Tuesday held a review meeting with all states and Union territories over new South Africa omicron variant of coronavirus.
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'.
Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan's meeting comes just a day after the Centre said that no case of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus has been detected in India yet.
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 on 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.
Omicron has around 50 mutations, which potentially make the variant more transmissible. Out of these 50 mutations, 32 are in spike proteins, which the virus uses to enter the human cells, and 10 are mutations of high relevance.
Amid the mounting concerns over the potentially more contagious coronavirus variant "Omicron' spreading to many countries, the Centre on Sunday introduced stricter guidelines for people travelling 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, 2021) include European countries, the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.