Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 3
The parliamentary standing committee on health on Friday described the government’s response to the second wave of Covid-19 as squarely inadequate with testing facilities being “abysmal and highly insufficient” and called for travel restrictions amid rapid Omicron spread.
In the report “Outbreak of Pandemic Covid-19 and its Management” tabled in Parliament today, the committee asked for urgent evaluation of current Covid vaccines in the light of Omicron and also told the government to consider booster shots.
It said: “In view of the loss of life during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the committee believes that the measures taken by the Health Ministry to contain and prevent the spread of SARS-COV-2 proved to be squarely inadequate. We believe the focus should be on strengthening health infrastructure, ensuring adequate availability of beds, adequate supply of oxygen cylinders and essential medicines.”
The panel said that with the incidence of highly mutated Omicron strain of Covid virus, the efficacy of current vaccines must be evaluated.
“The concerns with regard to the new strain developing immunoescape mechanism need to be critically addressed. We apprehend that the rise in mutations in the virus may lead to reporting of more virulent and transmissible strains of Covid virus in the country. The committee strongly recommends that the ministry should adopt Zero Tolerance Covid-19 Policy and closely track Covid cases across the country,” said the panel, adding that it was “pained to note that although the second wave came almost six months after the peak of the first wave, India’s testing infrastructure remained abysmal and highly insufficient.”
The committee is of the opinion that to combat the current pandemic and other future emergencies, India must realise its full testing capacity, the report said, asking the government to ensure that the testing outpaced the growth of cases to arrest future waves early.
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