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Omicron Variant Does Not Escape RT-PCR And RAT, Centre Tells States As It Asks Them To Ramp Up Testing

Underlining that the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 does not escape RT-PCR and RAT tests, the Centre advised states and UTs on Tuesday to ramp up testing for early identification of any cases, undertake effective surveillance of international passengers and strictly monitor hotspots.

Omicron Variant Does Not Escape RT-PCR And RAT, Centre Tells States As It Asks Them To Ramp Up Testing
  • Omicron variant does not escape RT-PCR and RAT: Centre
  • Union Health Secretary urged states to strengthen testing infrastructure
  • States advised to undertake surveillance of international passengers

New Delhi: Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level virtual meeting with states and UTs to review COVID-19 public health response measures and preparedness amid cases of Omicron variant of COVID19 being reported across various countries. Reiterating that the revised guidelines and international travel advisories of the Union Health Ministry have been shared with the states, Bhushan advised states not to let their guard down and keep a strict vigil on the international passengers coming to the country through various airports, ports and land border crossings, a health ministry statement said. India has so far not reported any case of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya informed Parliament on Tuesday (November 30), noting that the government has taken measures to ensure that it does not reach the country. The Centre has issued an advisory after looking at the developments globally and is keeping a close watch at ports, he said, adding genome sequencing of suspected cases is also being done.

During Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, the minister said, Omicron variant has been found in 14 countries now. It is being studied here although it has not been reported in India.

Also Read: South African Doctor Says Patients With Omicron Variant Have “Very Mild” Symptoms

At the meeting chaired by Bhushan, the states were specially advised to undertake effective surveillance of international passengers. Testing of samples of international travellers coming from “At Risk” countries on the first day and of specified category of passengers on the eighth day needs to be scrupulously done, Bhushan stressed. He said international passengers from “at-risk” countries are being advised to prepare to wait at the airports till the report of the RT-PCR test is available. States were asked to send all positive samples for genome sequencing to INSACOG Labs (mapped with states) promptly and that states should undertake contact tracing of positive individuals and follow up for 14 days, the statement said.

Also Read: COVID ‘Omicron’ Variant: Centre Advises States, UTs To Enhance Genomic Surveillance Of Incoming Passengers From ‘At Risk’ Countries

DG, ICMR Dr Balram Bharagava informed that the Omicron variant doesn’t escape RT-PCR and RAT and hence, states and UTs were advised to ramp up testing for prompt and early identification of any cases the statement said. The Union Health Secretary urged states to strengthen the testing infrastructure while strictly implementing the testing guidelines and ensure ample testing in each district while maintaining the RT-PCR ratio. States and UTs were advised to have continuous monitoring of areas where recent clusters of positive cases have emerged and send all positive samples for genome sequencing to the designated INSACOG Lab in a prompt manner. They were asked to do effective and regular monitoring of home isolation cases, with physical visits to homes of passengers from “at-risk” countries. The status of those who are negative after the test on the eighth day has to also be physically monitored by the state administration, Bhushan said.

States were also asked to ensure the preparedness of health infrastructure (availability of ICU, O2 beds, ventilators, etc.) and to implement Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness(ECRP-II) with a focus on rural areas and for paediatric cases,” it said.

Also Read: A New Variant Of Concern: Is It More Dangerous? AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria Explains

They were asked to work for early implementation of sanctioned pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen generating plants, along with ensuring a seamless supply of logistics, drugs, O2 cylinders, etc. States have been asked to co-ordinate with Airport Health Officers (APHOs) and ‘Air Suvidha’ portal for a list of positive travellers, including details of all international travellers, and strengthen support to them for effective surveillance. Effective and timely coordination between State admin, BOI officials, APHOs, Port health officers (PHOs) and Land Border Crossing Officers (LBCOs) was stressed upon. States have been advised for meetings with relevant officials to ensure smooth implementation of the new Guidelines for International Travelers which come into effect from midnight today. Daily monitoring by the State Surveillance Officer has been directed to track and contain the spread of transmission of any VoCs in the country, especially from any recent clusters of positive cases. Regular dissemination of evidence and science-based information on the merging scenario should be shared with the masses through weekly media briefings, it re-emphasised.

Also Read: Explained: What Are The Symptoms Of Omicron, A Variant Of Concern

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity,  that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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