Govt restarts random sampling of international passengers at airports in India for Covid-19
A sudden surge in COVID-19 cases in the United States, China, Brazil and South Korea has prompted the Union Health Ministry to review the pandemic situation in India and as per the precautionary measure the government has restarted random sampling of international passengers at airports across the country for Covid from today.
Sources told ANI, "Random sampling of international passengers for Covid19 has started at airports in the country from today."
"There are currently 10 different variants of Covid-19 in the country, with the latest variant being BF.7. At present various variants of Omicron are spreading in the country and Delta variant can still be seen in the country," said the sources.
Earlier in the day, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya also conducted a high-level meeting to review the COVID-19 situation in India and the preparedness of the public health system for surveillance, containment and management of COVID-19 in view of the recent spike in cases of COVID-19 in some countries along with Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare.
Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, senior officials and public health experts were present.
"The Union Health Minister was briefed on the global COVID-19 situation and the domestic scenario. Underlining the challenge posed by the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in some countries across the world such as China, Japan, South Korea, France and the United States, Union Health Minister noted the importance of being prepared and remaining alert against new and emerging strains of COVID-19, especially in view of the upcoming festive season," reads the statement issued by the Health Ministry after the meeting.
Mandaviya also said that Covid-19 is not yet over and directed officials to be alert and strengthen surveillance amid a surge in coronavirus cases globally.He urged people to follow COVID appropriate behaviour and get vaccinated against COVID.
"The surveillance system for whole genome sequencing of positive case samples will track the variants through Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network to ensure timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country. This would facilitate the undertaking of appropriate public health measures. States/UTs have been requested to send samples of all COVID-19 positive cases to INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories (IGSLs) on a daily basis, for sequencing, to track new variants, if any," he said.
"In a presentation, the Union Health Minister was briefed that India has been witnessing a steady decline in cases with average daily cases falling to 158 in the week ending December 19, 2022. However, a consistent rise in global daily average cases has been reported since the last six weeks, with 5.9 lakh daily average cases reported in the week ending December 19, 2022. A new and highly transmissible BF.7 strain of the Omicron variant has been found to be behind a wider surge of COVID infections in China," the ministry said in a statement.
Present in the meeting, Dr VK Paul, Member, Niti Aayog said, "Only 27-28 per cent of people have taken precaution dose. We appeal to others, especially senior citizens, to take the precautionary dose. Precaution dose is mandated and guided to everyone."
"Use a mask if you are in a crowded space, indoors or outdoors. This is all the more important for people with comorbidities or those of higher age," Dr Paul added.
In the meeting, other Senior Officials present were Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Union Health Ministry, Prof. Ajay Kumar Sood, Principal Scientific Advisor, Dr RS Gokhale, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary, AYUSH, Dr Rajiv Bahl, Secretary, Department of Health Research, Dr Atul Goel, DGHS, Sh. Lav Agarwal, Additional Secretary, MoHFW and Dr N K Arora, Chairman of the COVID Working Group, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI).