Omicron scare: Global travellers under lens in Himachal Pradesh

Directive issued to district administration, health authorities

Omicron scare: Global travellers under lens in Himachal Pradesh

Tourists enjoy at The Ridge in Shimla on Tuesday.

Pratibha Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 30

In view of the new Covid variants, the state government has asked all respective district administrations and health authorities to undertake rigorous surveillance of international passengers, especially from countries where the new variant has been detected.

The Health Department has shot off letters to all Deputy Commissioners and Chief Medical Officers (CMO) to ensure rigorous surveillance of international travellers, especially from high-risk nations.

It is following a letter from the Union Health Secretary to all states that the fresh directives have been issued to the Chief Secretaries. “We have taken due note and all DCs and CMOs have been asked to adhere to the new guidelines in respect of the new variants of concern,” said Ram Subhag Singh, Chief Secretary.

A presentation was made on Covid-19 situation in the state and the preparedness to tackle a possible third wave was seen. “When BJP national president JP Nadda comes to Mandi on December 4, we hope to achieve 100 per cent vaccination by administering a total of 53.77 lakh Covid vaccines,” revealed Suresh Bhardwaj, Urban Development Minister after today’s Cabinet meeting.

Even though there has been a decline in the number of Covid-related fatalities and the active cases falling below 800, the government cannot afford to be casual as Himachal is a major tourist destination and the possibility of the variants of concern being detected here cannot be ruled out. The detection of the new variants of concern in some countries could cast a shadow on the already beleaguered tourism industry, which is a major source of revenue and employment generation in the hill state.

Directions have been issued to adhere to the three-pronged surveillance strategy of screening and testing international travellers and their contacts, routine sentinel surveillance and surge surveillance and sending positive RT-PCR samples timely to INSACOG genome sequencing laboratories, revealed Amitabh Awasthy, Secretary, Health.

As per the letter sent to all CMOs, directions have been issued to maintain strict surveillance on tourists, travelling from and transmitting through the high risk countries. It is mentioned that the variant of concern have been reported from Botswana (three), South Africa (six) and Hong Kong (one).

Thrust will also be on closely tracking the close contacts of these international travellers and sending their samples for genome sequencing.

“We have directed that there should be prompt dispatch of samples of genome sequencing, besides adherence to proper Covid behaviour,” said Awasthy. The thrust will also be on enhanced testing and monitoring of hot spots, he added.

Presentation on Covid preparedness

  • “All DCs and CMOs have been asked to adhere to the new guidelines in respect of the new variants of concern,” said Ram Subhag Singh, Chief Secretary.
  • A presentation was made on Covid-19 situation in the state and the preparedness to tackle possible third wave was seen.
  • Directions have been issued to adhere to the three-pronged surveillance strategy of screening and testing international travellers and their contacts.

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