Centre puts states on Covid alert after spike in China, US

States, UTs urged to ramp up whole genome sequencing of positive samples to track variants
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya
Union Health Minister Mansukh MandaviyaPTI

NEW DELHI: Taking a serious note of the sharp surge in new Covid cases in several countries, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya would review the pandemic situation on Wednesday, official sources said. This came after the spurt in cases in China, the US, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil among others.

The Ministry has also urged all states and Union Territories to ramp up the whole genome sequencing of positive samples to keep track of newer variants.

According to officials, Minister Mandaviya would review the Covid situation at 11.30 am on Wednesday “considering the international scenario”. The secretaries of Health, Ayush, departments of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director-General Rajiv Bahl, Member (Health) of NITI Aayog VK Paul and National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) chairman NL Arora and other senior officials will attend the meeting.

Meanwhile, in a letter to states and UTs on Tuesday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said this exercise would enable timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country and facilitate the undertaking of requisite public health measures.

He highlighted that India with its focus on the five-fold strategy of test-track-treat-vaccination and adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour has been able to restrict the transmission of the coronavirus. While India is reporting around 1,200 cases on a weekly basis, about 35 lakh cases are being reported weekly around the world, indicating that the public health challenge posed by the pandemic was still persisting.

“In view of the sudden spurt of cases being witnessed in Japan, United States of America, Republic of Korea, Brazil, and China, it is essential to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network,” he said.

“In this context, all states are requested to ensure that as far as possible samples of all positive cases, on a daily basis, are sent to the designated INSACOG Genome Laboratories that are mapped to states and UTs,” he added.

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