WHO meets to review new Covid variant, Health Ministry alerts states

Strain in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong

WHO meets to review new Covid variant, Health Ministry alerts states

Representational photo. File

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 25

Hours after the World Health Organisation met on Thursday to review a new Covid-19 virus variant detected in South Africa and Botswana, the Health Ministry alerted all states to conduct rigorous screening of all incoming passengers from the affected countries.

The ministry said the National Centre for Disease Control had reported that multiple cases of Covid-19 variant B.1.1529 have been reported in Botswana (three cases), South Africa (six cases) and Honk Kong (one case).

“This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, thus has serious public health implications for the country, in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel. lt is therefore imperative that all international travellers from and transiting through these countries, (they are part of the ‘at risk’ category of international travellers coming to India) including all other at risk countries indicated in the revised guidelines for international arrivals are subjected to rigorous screening and testing,” wrote Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan to the states.

He said contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested as per the ministry guidelines.

“You are also requested to ensure that samples of travellers turning positive are sent to the designated labs as per the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics Guidance Document. The state surveillance officers must also establish close coordination with their designated labs to expedite results of genomic analysis so that necessary public health measures may be undertaken by the states and the UTs in case the new variant is reported,” the letter said asking states to continue adhere to the “Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate” principle to ensure stringent implementation of containment measures against Covid-19.

$1.5 bn ADB loan for Covid vaccine

  • Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of $1.5 billion (over Rs11,000 crore) to India for the purchase of Covid vaccines.
  • It is expected to co-finance another $500 million for project to fund procurement of 66 crore vaccine doses.
  • The funds will support the national vaccination plan that aims to fully vaccinate 94.5 crore adults or 68.9 per cent of the population

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