Centre proposes a five-fold strategy for tackling the threat of Covid-19 variant Omicron.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a review meeting on the Covid-19 situation in the country on Thursday evening amid rising concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Official sources said PM Modi took stock of the pandemic situation across the country in a high-level meeting attended by senior officials and experts.

Separately, the Centre proposed a five-fold strategy for tackling the threat of Covid-19 variant Omicron, in a review meeting on Thursday over public health preparedness by States and Union Territories for fighting the Omicron variant. India recorded 236 cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus across 16 states and Union Territories so far, out of which 104 people have recovered or migrated, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday. India reported 7,495 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, Union Health Ministry said on Thursday.

The Centre proposed a fivefold strategy for tackling the threat of Omicron. The fivefold strategy includes broad guidelines under the headings: Containment, Testing and Surveillance, Clinical management, Covid Safe Behaviour and Vaccination. According to the Health Ministry, states are advised to impose night curfews and ensure strict regulation of large gatherings, especially ahead of the forthcoming festivities. Promptly notify “Containment Zones”, “Buffer Zones” in the case in new clusters of Covid positive cases. Ensure strict perim

ter control of Containment Zone as per extant guidelines and send all cluster samples to INSACOG Labs for Genome Sequencing without delay.

“On the issue of Testing and Surveillance, States were asked to keep a close and strict watch on the number of Delta and Omicron cases in all districts. Keep a tab on case positivity numbers on a day-on-day and week-on-week basis, the doubling rate and new emerging clusters,” reads the official statement.

In addition, attention needs to be placed on conducting tests as per extant ICMR and MoHFW guidelines. Ensure door-to-door case search in the containment areas. Test all SARI/ILI and vulnerable/co-morbid people. Ensure right proportion of RT-PCR: RAT (at least 60:40) tests in total tests being conducted daily. This can be ramped up to a 70:30 ratio. Ensure contact tracing of all Covid positive persons and their timely testing, especially in clusters reporting high numbers and utilise the access to “AIR SUVIDHA” Portal to monitor the international passengers.

“With regards to Clinical management, states were informed that the existing National Clinical Management Protocol remains unchanged for Omicron. They were advised to increase bed capacity, ensure logistics like ambulances and enforce mechanism for seamless shifting of patients,” the official statement said.

“Ensure operational readiness of oxygen equipment, maintain a buffer stock of essential medicines of at least 30 days, utilize funds sanctioned under Emergency Covid Response Package (ECRP-II) to ensure that the requisite capacity of health systems is developed at/near hotspots to respond to any emergency. State health secretaries to monitor the status and progress of fiscal spending and physical progress in this regard on a daily basis and ensure stringent enforcement of home quarantine/ isolation as per extant guidelines,” it added.

“As many states have decommissioned Covid facilities, they are required to keep an action plan ready for making these operational along with adequate availability of doctors and ambulance on call, in case there is a rise in Covid cases,” said Health Ministry.

On the front of Covid Safe Behaviour, states were advised to ensure advance engagement and information so that there is no misinformation or panic, communicate transparently on hospital and testing infrastructure availability, conduct regular press briefings and encourage community participation and strict enforcement of Covid Appropriate Behaviour.

Regarding Vaccination, States were advised to ensure 100 per cent coverage of left out first and second dose eligible beneficiaries in an accelerated manner, special focus to be given to those districts where the first and second dose coverage is less than the national average and strengthen door-to-door vaccination campaign especially in States/UTs where vaccination coverage is below the national average.

States going in for elections in the near future to exponentially ramp up vaccination, especially in the low coverage districts to protect the vulnerable population and pockets with low vaccination coverage and those with low Covid exposure may be more vulnerable to the new Omicron variant. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired the meet where he also reviewed the progress of vaccination with Health Secretaries and Mission Directors of National Health Mission of States and Union Territories.

As many as 23 new cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 reported in Maharashtra on Thursday, said the state health department. With this, the tally of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in the state has gone up to 88.

A report from Bhopal said in view of Covid-19 cases in Madhya Pradesh, the state government imposed a night curfew from Thursday. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, “In view of Covid-19 cases, Madhya Pradesh govt imposes night curfew from 11 pm to 5 am from today till further orders.”