Omicron: Centre asks states, UTs to stay prepared for possible Covid surge

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Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan held a review meeting with senior officials of states and Union territories on Thursday and urged them to ensure availability of adequate buffer stock of eight critical drugs used for treatment of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). He also asked to make sure all hospitals are ready to deal with any possible surge in cases.

The meeting was held in the wake of the detection of a number cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus in India. Speaking to health secretaries and National Health Mission directors via video conference, Bhushan said all health facilities should have functional ventilators, PSA plants and oxygen concentrators.

A statement issued by the health ministry said states were informed that many ventilators supplied by the Centre are still lying unpacked and unused at some field hospitals, with consumables not being procured and made available by the states.

“This needs to be reviewed immediately to ensure that all PSA oxygen plants, Oxygen concentrators and ventilators are installed and are functioning,” it added.

The five-fold strategy of test-track-treat-vaccinate-adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour was highlighted as the mainstay of public health response strategy for effective and timely control and management of the pandemic.

The states and UTs were told to enhance testing and focus on surveillance to ensure early identification of suspected cases for prompt isolation and further clinical management. They were also asked to ensure the availability of RT-PCR testing facilities in all districts, the statement said.

“Districts reporting higher case positivity were alerted to monitor the case trajectory regularly, and to promptly dispatch positive samples to the mapped INSACOG labs for genomic sequencing,” it said.

Also read | Omicron strain 4.2 times more transmissible in its early stage than Delta: Study

Close monitoring of emerging hotspots/clusters, breakthrough and re-infection cases, and prompt investigation was discussed. It was re-emphasised that all contacts for positive patients are to be traced and tested according to protocol as quickly as possible, the statement said.

Based on the information of travellers from ‘at-risk’ countries from the Air Suvidha portal, district-wise monitoring of international passengers who have tested negative on arrival with a focus on symptomatic cases was highlighted in the meeting.

Keeping the winter season in mind, they were advised that the prevalence of influenza-like illness, severe acute respiratory infection and respiratory distress symptoms need to be closely monitored, the statement said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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