With the rise in cases of coronavirus in China, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, and the US, the Centre on Wednesday announced fresh guidelines to contain spread of infection. The state governments have also been asked to step up genome sequencing and take measures to check the spread of virus.
The BF.7 variant of COVID-19, believed to be driving the recent surge of cases in China, was first identified in India as far back as July.
Four instances of the Omicron subvariant had been genome-sequenced in people in Gujarat and Odisha in subsequent months, but it was not linked to increased severity or infectiousness in the two States, two senior officials who were part of a meeting convened by Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Wednesday independently confirmed.
BF.7 is a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.5 and is reportedly more infectious than the other variants of coronavirus known so far. It is highly transmissible, has a shorter incubation period, and a higher capacity to cause reinfection or infect even those vaccinated.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya reviewed the coronavirus situation in the country and asked people to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, including wearing masks in crowded places, and get vaccinated.
Sources said directions have been issued to step up random screening of passengers from other countries, especially the ones witnessing a surge in Covid infections. There is no change in the guidelines for international travel so far, they said.
“COVID is not over yet.”Mansukh Mandaviya said.” I have directed all concerned to be alert and strengthen surveillance. We are prepared to manage any situation.”
Several state governments also announced a slew of measures to contain spread of infection. The Karnataka government said it will start monitoring international passengers at Bengaluru airport. Gujarat Health Minister Rushikesh Patel also asked officials to conduct “compulsory” testing of travellers arriving in the state from other countries.
At the meeting, where the minister and all officials were seen seen wearing masks, a presentation was made on the global Covid-19 situation and the domestic scenario. It was highlighted that India has been witnessing a steady decline as average daily Covid cases fell to 158 in the week ending December 19 with Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra,Telangana and Tamil Nadu being the top five states in terms of numbers.However, no severity in cases was being seen so far.
However things are chaotic in China as the country is experiencing a steady rise int he no of cases per day.Mortuaries in Chinese cities are also overwhelmed with the deaths, though there have no official confirmation of the same by the Chinese government.Some models have predicted that 60 per cent of the Chinese population may get infected with the virus in the next few months and the death toll may climb a million.