Tribune News Service
Patiala, December 6
As the scare of Omicron, a new variant of Covid-19, grows, the district Health Department has started bracing for the potential third wave.
What is Omicron and what makes it a variant of concern (VoC)?
It is a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 that has recently been reported from South Africa on November 24, called as B.1.1 .529 or Omicron (based on Greek alphabets like alpha, beta, delta etc). This variant has shown a very large number of mutations, especially more than 30 on the viral spike protein, which is the key target of the immune response.
Will the existing vaccines work against Omicron?
There is no evidence to suggest that existing vaccines do not work on Omicron, some of the mutations reported on Spike gene may decrease the efficacy of existing vaccines. However, vaccine protection is also by antibodies as well as by cellular immunity, which is expected to be relatively better preserved. Hence, vaccines are expected to still offer protection against severe disease and vaccination with the available vaccines is crucial. If eligible but not vaccinated one should get vaccinated.
The department has directed private and government hospitals in the district to gear up for any upswing in the positive cases in the coming days. Dr Sumeet Singh, district epidemiologist, today inspected various private hospitals, including Vardhman, Columbia Asia, Sadhbhavna and Amar Hospital. Dr Sumeet said that the district had provision of around 1,100 bed facility in the government set up, while 400 in private sector across the district. He said, “If need be, we have provision to make available the maximum bed capacity once again.”
Sumeet said they had earmarked one floor of the MCH building, a Covid isolation centre, at Government Rajindra Hospital exclusively for the positive cases of Omicron.
Meanwhile, the district administration and Health Department will soon start random sampling at government offices, private educational institutes, restaurants, private factories and the places with higher footfall. It has been learnt that the step has been taken in view of the rising Omicron cases in the country and possibilities of third wave.
Ironically, various political parties, in the face of upcoming Assembly election, have continuously been holding large gatherings in the district ignoring the Covid appropriate behaviour.
Dr Sumeet Singh said, “People have been ignoring the Covid appropriate behaviour over the past few months. Everyone should once again start wearing face masks at public places.”
He said they had ramped up the daily Covid testing in the district.
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