New Delhi, December 22
Cautioning that the “enemy” covid-19 virus is constantly changing shape, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Thursday asked the states to follow protocols and increase genome-sequencing to timely identify the new variant.
“Our enemy is changing with time and we need to continue our collective fight against it with perseverance and determination,” Mandaviya told Parliament ahead of a review meeting by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We are keeping an eye on the global covid situation and are taking steps accordingly. States have been advised to increase the whole genome-sequencing of all positive cases for timely detection of new variants, if any, circulating in the country and to facilitate and undertake required public health measures,” he said.
The high-level meeting has been called after cases of Omicron sub-variant BF.7 were confirmed in the country -- two each in Gujarat and Odisha. The variant is driving the present surge in covid cases in China.
Mandaviya said that in the past several days a spike in covid cases had been registered across the world; however, in India the number of cases is declining. “In the past few days, we have seen an increasing trajectory of covid cases across the world. India, on the other hand, continues with a decreasing trajectory of cases for the past one year. Currently, 153 new cases on an average are being reported daily across the country, but globally 5.87 lakh new cases are being reported,” he said, citing the large number of cases being reported from the US, Japan, France, Greece, Italy and South Korea.
“There are also media reports of a large number of covid cases and deaths in China,” he said in a statement in the two Houses.
Enumerating the steps being taken by India, the minister advised the states to ensure that proper covid protocols are followed in the wake of festivals and New Year season.
“States also need to focus on ensuring effective awareness within the community on adherence to covid-appropriate behaviour, which includes use of mask, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene practices, besides following physical distancing.
“States should ensure that the coverage of vaccination doses should increase and the required awareness is undertaken within the community. States are advised to make sure people wear masks, use sanitisers and maintain social distancing along with increasing awareness for precautionary doses,” he said, adding that 2% random sampling of all international passengers is being considered at all international airports.
Mandaviya said India had been quite proactive in managing the pandemic. The central government had provided financial assistance to states in fighting against the pandemic and so far 220 crore covid vaccine shots had been given, he added.
“India is already following covid-appropriate behaviour and taking all steps. I request all members to help spread awareness. We have also started the random RT-PCR sampling among passengers arriving at international airports in the country. We are committed to tackling the pandemic and are taking appropriate steps," he added.
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