COVID-19: Centre propose fivefold strategy to states, UTs to tackle Omicron threat

DN Bureau

Centre proposed a fivefold 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 COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.

File Photo
File Photo

New Delhi: Centre proposed a fivefold 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 COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. The fivefold strategy includes broad guidelines under the heading - Containment, Testing and Surveillance, Clinical management, COVID Safe Behaviour and Vaccination.

According to 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 perimeter 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 & their timely testing, especially in clusters reporting high numbers and utilize 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 the 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. States to accord special attention to ramp up vaccination in these pockets, advised Ministry.

"Any restriction must be enforced for a minimum of 14 days. As syndromes of Omicron variant closely mimic common cold with a higher rate of transmissibility and doubling time, syndromic approach for COVID containment can be employed," said the Health Ministry. 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. (ANI)

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