March 24, 2023

omicron: Revive Covid curbs, activate war rooms: Centre to states | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Amid initial signs of a rise in Omicron infections and concerns over its high transmissibility, the Centre on Tuesday asked states to activate war rooms and bring back curbs, including night curfews, strict restrictions on large gatherings, curtailing numbers at weddings and funerals, restricting attendance in offices and public transport.
District administrations have been asked to keep a close watch on numbers and proactively analyse trends and surges. Highlighting that the Omicron variant is at least three times more transmissible than Delta, the Centre underlined the need for prompt and focused decisions at the local level as cases can spread rapidly in the absence of timely identification and containment. This is considered necessary even though cases of Omicron have been seen to be mostly mild so far.

“Based on current scientific evidence, the VOC (variant of concern) Omicron is at least 3 times more transmissible than the Delta VOC. Besides, the Delta VOC is still present in different parts of the country. Hence, even greater foresight, data analysis, dynamic decision-making and strict & prompt containment action is required at the local and district level. The decision-making at the state/UT and district level must be very prompt and focused,” health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter on Tuesday. While the infection might prove to be mild, a large number of cases can increase hospitalisation and deaths and also impact a nascent economic recovery.
Till Tuesday morning, 200 cases infected with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV2 were detected through genome sequencing of Covid-19 positive samples from across 12 states and UTs. Of these 77 cases have recovered or migrated, health ministry said. The Centre has directed “all cluster samples must be sent to INSACOG Labs for genome sequencing without delay”.
The Centre is worried over the rising detection of Omicron cases even as the overall numbers continue to be under control. Officials raised concerns as the detected Omicron cases are only a factor of the size of samples and the real numbers are likely to be much higher, particularly because of the transmissibility.
Overall, a total of 5,326 new Covid-19 cases — which includes Delta and other variants — were recorded from across the country on Monday. The active caseload stood at 79,097. Maharashtra reported 65 cases of Omicron while Delhi recorded 54 cases, Telangana registered 20 cases, Karnataka 19, Rajasthan 18, Kerala 15 and Gujarat 14 cases.

Pressing districts to constantly review emerging data regarding the population affected by Covid-19, in terms of geographical spread and other parameters, Bhushan suggested test positivity of 10% or more in last one week, bed occupancy of 40% or more on oxygen support or ICU beds be the main elements to assess the needs at the district level.
Containment measures and restrictions can be implemented by states or district authorities even before these thresholds are reached if the local situation is such. However, evidence should be the basis for effective decision-making at the district level itself to ensure infection is contained before it spreads to other parts of the state, Bhushan added.
“ln case of all new clusters of Covid-positive cases, prompt notification of ‘containment zones’, ‘buffer zones’ should be done, strict perimeter control of containment zone as per extant guidelines must be ensured,” Bhushan wrote.
“Regular reviews with field officers and proactive action in this regard will definitely control the spread of infection and flatten the curve,” it said.
The Centre also stressed the need for testing, door-to-door case search and testing of all severe acute respiratory illnesses (SARI) and influenza-like illnesses (ILI) cases. States were also asked to ensure that the right proportion of RT-PCR tests be ensured along with contact tracing of all Covid-positive persons and monitoring of international passengers.
Bhushan also highlighted the need for timely and effective clinical management, including monitoring of hospital infrastructure and trends, expansion of coverage of double-dose vaccination.
“Ensure 100% coverage of left-out first and second dose eligible beneficiaries in an accelerated manner. Special focus to be given to those districts where the first & second dose coverage is less than the national average. The door-to-door vaccination campaign need to be strengthened,” he said.

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