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Omicron scare: Centre tells states, UTs to ramp up testing

New Delhi, Nov 30: Amidst a heightened level of concern over the Omicron variant, the Centre on Tuesday advised states and UTs to ramp up testing and undertake effective surveillance of international passengers, asserting that the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 does not escape RT-PCR and RAT tests as it extended the nationwide COVID-19 containment measures till December 31.
Also on Tuesday, Union Health minister Mansukh Mandaviya told Parliament that the new COVID-19 variant –Omicron– has not been reported in India yet and asserted that the government has taken measures to ensure that it does not reach the country and has issued an advisory after looking at developments globally. The strict norms for international passengers arriving in the country, especially from ‘at-risk’ countries, will also come into effect from December 1.
Chairing a high-level meeting with states and UTs to review public health preparedness in the country, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan advised states and UTs 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 and stressed on strict monitoring of hotspots.
He also noted that the revised guidelines and international travel advisories have been shared with the states. During the meeting, DG, ICMR Dr Balram Bhargava informed the participants 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 cases.
The Centre also extended the nationwide containment measures till December 31 and Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote to state and UTs, asking them to strictly adhere to the November 25 advisory issued by the Union Health Ministry, recommending rigorous screening and testing of all international arrivals.
Bhalla also said the contacts of the international travellers must be closely tracked and tested as per the health ministry guidelines, and the samples of travellers turning positive sent to the designated Genome Sequencing Laboratories promptly, as per the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium Guidance Document.
He said the state surveillance officers must also establish close coordination with their designated or tagged genome sequencing laboratories for expediting results of genomic analysis, and the States and UTs should immediately undertake necessary public health measures, in case of the presence of variants of concern. (PTI)

The post Omicron scare: Centre tells states, UTs to ramp up testing appeared first on The Shillong Times.

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