At the Covid-19 review meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasises new variant tracking.

Wednesday, PRIME MINISTER Narendra Modi urged officials to improve whole genome sequencing of the Covid-19 virus in order to identify newer strains and conduct effective surveillance of influenza-like diseases and severe acute respiratory infections. According to a statement issued by the PMO, he also urged everyone to practise respiratory hygiene and Covid-19-appropriate conduct.

The Prime Minister issued the directives during a high-level meeting to review the Covid-19 and influenza situation in the country. The availability and costs of twenty primary Covid medications, twelve additional drugs, eight buffer drugs, and one influenza drug are being monitored, he was informed.

Principal Secretary P K Mishra, NITI Aayog member V K Paul, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director Rajiv Bahl, and PMO Advisor Amit Khare were in attendance at the meeting.

In the previous three weeks, there has been an increase in the number of Covid-19 instances, against which this meeting takes place. During this time period, an upsurge in influenza cases, particularly of the H3N2 subtype, has been seen.


Keeping a close watch

Following the second deadly wave that caught India by surprise, the government has maintained a constant vigil over Covid cases. Local authorities are able to implement measures to prevent further spread if they receive an early warning when the number of cases begins to climb. Whole genome-based surveillance is also useful for keeping a lookout.

According to data given by the Union Health Ministry, on two of the preceding three days – March 20 (1,246 cases), March 21 (699 cases), and March 22 – more than 1,000 new Covid-19 cases were reported daily (1,134 cases).

Before mid-February, less than 1,000 cases per week were being reported. The rate of increase was gradual, reaching 3,000 cases per week by mid-March.

In December 2022, when Asian nations including China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Japan reported a spike in cases, the Prime Minister held the most recent review meeting on Covid-19. In addition, a simulated drill was undertaken to assess the readiness of 22,000 hospitals.

A week ago, the Centre wrote to six states – Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Gujarat – requesting that they conduct adequate and proactive testing, monitor new and emerging clusters of infections, keep track of influenza-like illnesses entering health facilities, and send samples of international travellers, sentinel sites, and clusters for genomic sequencing.

In addition, the letter asked authorities to take measures to promote cautionary doses and ensure that individuals adhere to Covid-19-appropriate behaviour.

Dr. Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant of internal medicine at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, stated that the number of Covid-19 patients in his clinic has increased over the previous 10 to 12 days. Over the same time frame, he said that they got a growing number of requests for teleconsultation from both Delhi and Mumbai.

“The majority of patients are presenting with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and body aches, quite similar to what we observed in flu cases two weeks ago. “But, their Covid-19 test results are now positive,” he stated.

Two weeks ago, the Center held a review meeting in response to the rising number of influenza cases, particularly those caused by H3N2.

Covid-19 is on the rise, according to the ICMR, which studies respiratory illnesses across its network of viral laboratories. During the first week of March, two influenza subtypes were detected in 81.6% of respiratory samples, whereas Covid-19 was detected in 12.0% of samples. By the second week of March, influenza subtypes were detected in 48% of tests and Covid-19 in 33% of samples.

Coupled with the increase in Covid-19 cases, Maharashtra and Gujarat have reported a novel sub-variant of the recombinant variation XBB. There were 40 XBB1.16 sequences recovered from Maharashtra samples and 26 from Gujarat samples.

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Hi, my name is Nisha and I'm an educational journalist based in India. I've always been passionate about the power of education to transform lives, and that's what led me to pursue a career in journalism focused on this area. I completed my Bachelor's degree in English from Hindu College in Delhi in 2013 and then went on to earn my Master's in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in 2017. During my studies, I also completed several short-term courses on Education in India, Sociology, and other related subjects to deepen my knowledge in this field. I'm particularly interested in improving access to quality education in rural areas, where students often face significant challenges. I've worked on a number of initiatives to address this issue, including advocating for better policies, resources, and practices that can make a difference. As an educational journalist, I'm passionate about using my platform to highlight important issues in the education space. I've covered a wide range of topics, including the impact of technology in the classroom, innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and the challenges facing students from marginalized communities. One of the things I love most about my work is the opportunity to constantly learn and grow. I'm an avid reader and believe that reading is key to expanding one's knowledge and perspective. I'm always seeking out new ideas and insights to help me better understand the world around me. In summary, as an educational journalist, I'm dedicated to using my skills and expertise to make a positive impact in the field of education. I'm committed to improving access to quality education for all students and to using my platform to raise awareness about important issues in this area.

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