The Central government on Tuesday issued a letter to all the states and union territories, in view of increasing Omicron cases in India. The Union government has pointed out that the Omicron variant is three times more transmissible than Delta and therefore, has asked the states/UT governments to "activate war rooms", impose night curfews, boost vaccination, and keep analyzing trends and surges. In the letter, the ministry has mentioned a series of prevention and containment measures to be taken to curb the virus. Currently the country has registered over 200 cases of Omicron variant.
1. The Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, has sent a letter to the states and union territories advising them to implement strategic interventions to flatten the curve, like strict regulation of large gathering, imposition of night curfew, increasing testing and surveillance and by limiting numbers in marriages and funerals.
2. In the letter, the health secretary has advised states to activate war rooms. “Kindly activate the war rooms/EOCs (emergency operation centres) and keep analyzing all trends and surges, no matter how small and keep taking proactive action at the district/local level. Regular reviews with field officers and proactive action in this regard will definitely control the spread of infection and flatten the curve,” he wrote in the letter.
3. The Delta variant is already present across the country with the new variant Omicron, which is far more mutant. Due to the concern over increasing Omicron cases, the government has said that all cluster samples must be sent to INSACOG Labs for Genome Sequencing without delay. The Union Health Secretary further added, “Based on current scientific evidence, the VOC (variant of concern) Omicron is at least 3 times more transmissible than the Delta VOC. Besides, the Delta VOC is still present in different parts of the country. Hence, even greater foresight, data analysis, dynamic decision making and strict and prompt containment action is required at the local and district level. The decision making at the state and UT and district level must be very prompt and focused.”
4. The letter highlighted that the government should take prompt action at district level if the test positivity rate is 10% or more in the last one week or bed occupancy of 40% or more on oxygen supported or ICU beds. To contain the spread of infection at local level itself, the letter highlighted that, at the district level there should be constant review of emerging data regarding the population affected by COVID-19, geographical spread, hospital infrastructure and its utilization, manpower, notifying containment zones, etc. This evidence should be the basis for effective decision making at the district level itself.
5. The states and union territories have been asked to boost the vaccination campaign, and to ensure 100% vaccination coverage of left out first and second dose eligible beneficiaries in an accelerated manner, by strengthening door to door vaccination campaigns. The letter has also asked states and union territories to increase bed capacity, other logistics like ambulances, availability and operational readiness of oxygen equipment, buffer stock of drugs to be ensured by prompt utilization of Emergency Covid Response Package (ECRP-II) funds released by central government and other available resources etc.
6. According to the latest data from the Centre and the states on Tuesday night, India recorded 220 cases of Omicron, the majority of cases coming from Maharashtra and Delhi. Maharashtra has 65 cases, Telangana 24, Delhi-54, Karnataka-19, Uttar Pradesh-2, Rajasthan-18, Kerala-15, Gujarat-14, Andhra Pradesh-1, Tamil Nadu-1, West Bengal-1 and Chandigarh-1. Out of all the recorded cases, 77 patients have recovered or migrated, the Union Health Ministry said.