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Center noises Covid alert, asks states to keep track of samples that are positive

Covid-19 cases are on the rise in several countries, including China. On Tuesday, the Union Health Ministry issued a warning and told all states and union territories (UTs) to sequence all positive case samples every day.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will meet with senior officials and experts on Wednesday to talk about the situation with Covid-19 in the country. India has been reporting about 1,200 new cases of Covid-19 every week.

In a letter to the states and UTs, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, “Given the sudden rise in cases in Japan, the US, the Republic of Korea, Brazil, and China, it is important to speed up the whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network.” By doing this, if there are any new variants circulating in the country, they can be found quickly and the right steps can be taken to protect public health.

On December 13, 2022, a patient is moved into a fever clinic at Chaoyang Hospital in Beijing, China. (Reuters)

“…all states are asked to make sure that as many samples as possible of all positive cases are sent daily to the mapped-to-states and UTs INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories (IGSLs),” he said.

At the moment, the INSACOG network of over 50 laboratories across the country is only sequencing a few samples: positive cases found among 2% of international passengers tested at random, samples from designated sentinel sites, and samples from any cluster or outbreak in the community, according to the guidelines for surveillance set by the Health Ministry. Also, labs have been looking for viral RNA in the sewage system.

So far, there have been no changes to the rules for international arrivals, other than more people being watched. The protocol was changed last month to get rid of the need for either a negative RT-PCR or a certificate of full vaccination. It said that people coming in should “preferably be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 according to their country’s approved primary vaccination schedule.”


The following and focusing

The Health Secretary said that India has been able to stop the spread of the disease by focusing on a five-part strategy of test-track-treat-vaccine and following Covid-approved behaviour. About 1,200 cases are reported each week in the country.

The number of Covid-19 cases around the world has stayed pretty steady at about 3.3 million per week. The latest situation report from the World Health Organization, which came out on December 14, showed that the number of deaths went up by 10% in the last week.

“The number of newly reported weekly deaths went up in three WHO regions: the African Region (+975%; partly because of batch reporting from South Africa), the Region of the Americas (+37%), and the Eastern Mediterranean Region (+81%),” the report said.

Since China eased its “zero Covid-19” policy earlier this month, there have also been reports of a rise in cases and deaths there. After the rules were loosened, more people went to the hospital, flu medicines ran out, and some schools went back online.

This rise is said to be linked to an Omicron sub-variant called BF.7. People who know about the matter say that the INSACOG network in India has already found BF.7, which is the name given to BA.

India’s national Sars-CoV-2 genome sequencing network found that only 2.5% of the cases in November were caused by BA.5 lineages (BF.7 is an offshoot of BA.5). At the moment, the most common type in India is a recombinant type called XBB, which made up 65.6% of all cases in November.

The former head of INSACOG, Dr. Anurag Agarwal, said, “China is now going through the Omicron wave that other countries have already gone through. From time to time, the number of cases has gone up in other countries, but there haven’t been a lot of severe cases or deaths.

He said that there is no longer a need to limit travel, especially in India where almost everyone has had the disease and been vaccinated. However, he said that keeping an eye on and testing passengers coming from countries where the disease is on the rise might help.



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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