Amid China Covid surge, Health Minister says mask up

The health ministry has asked the states to start random tests and genome sequencing to ascertain the kind of virus and its typical changes.

New Delhi  | Updated: 21 December, 2022 7:40 pm IST

Four cases of Omicron sub-variant BF.7, apparently the strain driving China’s current surge of covid cases have been detected in India so far as per Health Ministry sources.  Amid these reports, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandviya requested everyone to wear mask and follow Covid appropriate behaviour.

Mandaviya on Wednesday said Covid-19 is not over yet and asked people to be on alert. Mandaviya chaired a review meeting with health officials on the Covid-19 situation amid a spurt in global cases and said the government is prepared to manage any situation. “Covid is not over yet. I have directed all concerned to be alert and strengthen surveillance. We are prepared to manage any situation,” the minister tweeted after the review meeting.

The health ministry has asked the states to start random tests and genome sequencing to ascertain the kind of virus and its typical changes.

Sources also said the government has started doing random testings at the airports including IGI on the passengers coming from the countries like China, USA, Brazil.

As per Union Health Ministry’s advisory, the government will send all samples for genome sequencing to Pune and Mumbai labs. Currently, the state of Maharshtra is seeing around 100 positive cases daily for genome sequencing of all the positive samples, said  Maharashtra Health Secretary.

On the issue of starting random COVID testing at railway stations, airports etc, government representative said that there was no such plan.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, in State Assembly said, “To monitor the Covid situation in the state, the state government will form a committee/ task force in coordination with the Centre.”

NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V.K. Paul said only 27-28% of India’s eligible population have taken the precaution dose of COVID-19. He also advised people to take the jab and wear masks in crowded places.

He urged people not to panic and clarified that there was no change in the guidelines for international air travel so far.

A high level meeting was attended by the secretaries of health, Ayush, department of pharmaceuticals and dept of biotechnology, ICMR Director General Rajiv Bahl, Member (Health) of NITI Aayog VK Paul and NTAGI Chairman NL Arora and other senior officials attended the meeting

Mandviya while briefing the media at the Parliament said people need to be alert. He also said that he has written a letter to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to postpone their Bharat Jodo Yatra.

“I wrote a letter to Rahul Gandhi after I received letters from three MPs of Rajasthan. They told me about the possible threat of increase of covid due to ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra,” he said.

“I instructed the Congress leaders to follow covid appropriate behaviour while holding their yatra. But after the letter, I am being targeted by Congress leaders and being criticised by them. As a health minister, I am doing my duty and trying to protect my countrymen from the the new variant of Covid,” said Mandviya.

Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra started from Kanyakumari on September 7. After covering a distance of more than 3000 kilometres, it will reach Delhi on December 24 from Rajasthan. It will take a 9-day break in Delhi before heading towards the next destination – Sonali Khurd in Haryana on January 3. The yatra, planned to pass through 12 states and 2 union territories over the course of five months, will culminate in Jammu and Kashmir.

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