Tighten scrutiny amid Omicron threat: Centre

‘Variant doesn’t escape RT-PCR, antigen tests’ | 14 countries have reported cases of the new variant

Tighten scrutiny amid Omicron threat: Centre

The Centre on Tuesday reviewed Covid-19 readiness in the wake of the Omicron ?variant of concern? (VOC), asking states to ramp up testing as the ICMR clarified that the new VOC did not escape RT-PCR or rapid antigen tests. - File photo

New Delhi, November 30

The Centre on Tuesday reviewed Covid-19 readiness in the wake of the Omicron ‘variant of concern’ (VOC), asking states to ramp up testing as the ICMR clarified that the new VOC did not escape RT-PCR or rapid antigen tests.

Hours before Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told the Rajya Sabha that there was no case of Omicron in India so far, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan met state and UT counterparts asking them to enhance testing of international passengers from ‘at risk’ nations, send positive samples for genome sequencing to specialised labs and maintain RTPCR share in total testing at 70 per cent.

States were also asked to undertake contact tracing of Covid positive passengers from high-risk nations and follow up for 14 days even as new Covid cases today fell to a record low of 6,990, the lowest in over 550 days. The Centre’s review came ahead of international travel guidelines taking effect from midnight today. So far, 14 countries have reported Omicron since its detection in South Africa on November 25.

Member, Health, NITI Aayog, VK Paul, meanwhile, asked states and UTs to ensure masking, distancing, hand hygiene and avoidance of large gatherings, besides testing. The government also announced the extension of door-to-door vaccine drive until December 31.

Countries in Europe, including UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel have been declared ‘at risk’.

Passengers from these nations will need to submit samples for post-arrival testing and wait at the point of arrival until the test report comes. If negative, they will follow home quarantine for 7 days, retest on the 8th day of arrival and further self-monitor for next 7 days.

If positive, their samples should be sent for genomic testing at INSACOG laboratory network and they should be isolated at a health facility. — TNS

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