Use facemask in crowded areas: Centre advises after high-level meeting. Key points

With China witnessing a massive spurt in Covid cases, the Union Health Ministry on Wednesday advised citizens to take necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus within India. The ministry earlier directed all states to increase genome sequencing of positive cases through the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network to track variants in view of spurt in several countries including China, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, and the US.

Health Ministry issues alert

Health officials emphasized that coronavirus pandemic is not over yet and said that people should wear masks in crowded places. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the ministry was prepared to tackle “any situation” and asked the concerned authorities to stay alert. “In view of the rising cases of Covid-19 in some countries, reviewed the situation with experts and officials today. Covid is not over yet. I have directed all concerned to be alert and strengthen surveillance. We are prepared to manage any situation…

High level meeting 

The secretaries of health, department of pharmaceuticals, department of biotechnology, Ayush, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Rajiv Bahl, Member (Health) of NITI Aayog Dr V K Paul and National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) Chairman Dr N K Arora attended the meeting among other officials. The meeting comes a day after the secretary of the Union Health ministry Rajesh Bhushan asked state governments and Union Territories to submit samples of positive cases on a priority basis to the genome sequencing laboratories.

Take precautionary dose

After Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya’s review meet, NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul urged all Indians to take the precaution dose of the vaccine and said that masks should be used in crowded places. Only 27-28 per cent of India’s eligible population have taken the precaution dose of COVID-19, Paul said on Wednesday and advised people to take the jab and wear masks in crowded places. He also advised people to use facemask. However, he said that there was no need to panic and adequate tests were being done. He said that there was no change in the guidelines for international air travel. India’s total COVID-19 tally rose to 4,46,76,330 on Wednesday with 131 new cases, while active cases fell to 3,408.

Enhance genome sequencing 

The Centre asked all states to send as many samples as possible daily to the designated INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories (IGSLs)—a consortium of over 50 laboratories—to keep a check on genomic variations in the COVID-19 virus.  The Health Ministry issued the Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in June, calling for the timely detection and containment of outbreaks of the new variants.

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