In an order issued on November 30, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, in the capacity of the Chairman of the National Executive Committee, asked all Secretaries of the Central Ministries, States Chief Secretaries and Administrators of UTs for rigorous screening and testing of all international arrivals, as per their guidelines issued from time to time.
"The contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) guidelines and the samples of travellers turning positive are sent to the designated INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories (IGSLs) promptly as per the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) Guidance Document," the MHA order said.
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The Home Secretary also directed all state governments/UTs that State Surveillance Officers must also establish a close coordination with their designated or tagged IGSLs for expediting results of genomic analysis, and they should immediately undertake necessary public health measures, in case presence of Variants of Concern/Variants of interest (VOCs/Vols) is reported by the INSACOG network.
Considering the emergence of highly mutant Covid variant B.1.1529 cases in a few countries of Africa, the MoHFW in its advisory issued on November 25 to all States and Union Territories (UTs) in exercise of the powers conferred under section 6(2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DM Act), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has directed the undersigned to issue an Order, for containment of Covid-19 in the country, the order reads further.
The MHA order also asked the States and UTs to ensure compliance to the containment measures for Covid-19 till December 31, 2021.
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Soon after the discovery of "multiple cases" of a variant B.1.1529 reported in three countries of South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana, the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on November 25, wrote to additional chief secretaries or principal secretaries or secretaries (Health) of all states and UTs and asked them to conduct rigorous screening and testing of all international travellers.
"It is imperative that all international travellers travelling from and transiting through these nations and including other 'at risk' nations indicated in the revised guidelines for international arrivals are subjected to rigorous screening and testing. Their contacts must also be tracked and tested," Bhushan stated in the letter. .