country and the emergence of new Covid-19 variants.
Reiterating that “Covid is not over yet”, PM Modi advised states to audit Covid-specific facilities to ensure operational readiness of hospital infrastructure, including oxygen cylinders, PSA plants, ventilators, and human resources. He directed officials to strengthen surveillance measures, ramp up testing, and also genomic sequencing efforts. He also cautioned people against complacency and urged them to wear masks in crowded places.
The government on Thursday said that a certain number of passengers arriving in international flights will be subject to random coronavirus test from December 24. The Union health ministry has written to the civil aviation ministry in this regard. “A sub-section of 2 per cent of the total passengers in the flight shall undergo random post-arrival testing at the airport on arrival,” an official communication said, adding that such travellers in each flight shall be determined by the airlines concerned and preferably from different countries.
Mandaviya on Thursday told Lok Sabha that in the wake of Christmas and new year celebrations, states are advised to ensure that people wear masks, use sanitizers and maintain social distancing along with increasing awareness for precautionary doses. In his statement, he said that in the recent days there have been reports of rise in Covid-19 cases in many countries such China, Japan, South Korea, the US, France, Greece and Italy.
Several states in India have started enforcing Covid-19 protocols including testing in crowded places and screening at International airports. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the new Omicron sub-variant BF.7 of Covid-19 has not been detected in the national capital so far and his government is ready to tackle any eventuality if arises. Health authorities in Uttar Pradesh have begun screening visitors at the Taj Mahal and other monuments, focusing their efforts mainly on foreign tourists and the Kerala government has decided to conduct whole genome sequencing of more samples to identify different Covid-19 variants.
What is BF.7 and is it Dangerous?
The new variant BF.7 of the novel coronavirus is believed to be linked to the surge in Covid cases in China. India has already seen a few cases of the BF.7 Covid strain in the past but that did not lead to a surge in infections across the country or an increase in the severity of the disease, co-chair at INSACOG’s advisory board Dr Saumitra Das told News18.
“The sublineage BF.7 belongs to Omicron and it’s similar to BA.5 with additional mutations,” Das, a professor and a microbiologist at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), said. “We have seen at least one to two cases of BF.7 in India but there was no momentum or no threshold was breached. In the last three months, the number of cases has not gone up and there was nothing alarming.”
Dr Anil Goyal of Indian Medical Association on Thursday said that there won’t be a lockdown situation in India since 95 per cent of the people are vaccinated. “The immunity system of Indians is stronger than that of the Chinese. India needs to go back to Covid basics — testing, treating, tracing,” he added.
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