The Union home ministry on Tuesday extended the existing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) guidelines till December 31. This comes in the backdrop of the emergence of a new strain of the virus, which has been spreading fast across the globe.
In its order, the home minister has advised state governments to ensure strict compliance of ministry of health’s November 25 advisory in the wake of the omicron outbreak.
In its advisory, the health ministry advisory has directed the states to rigorously screen and test all the passengers arriving in international flights. The contacts of these passengers should also be closely tracked and tested, the health ministry further said in its guidelines.
The state governments have been directed to send the samples of the travellers to INSACOG laboratories for genome sequencing.
Amid mounting concerns over the potentially more contagious omicron variant, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan held a review meeting with states and union territories (UTs) on Tuesday and advised them to ramp up testing for early identification and management of cases.
While underlining that the new variant doesn’t escape RT-PCR and RAT tests, Bhushan asked states and UTs to ensure adequate infrastructure and supervised home isolation.
So far, no new omicron variant has been detected in the country.
The B.1.1.529 Covid variant (named omicron by the World Health Organization) was first detected in South Africa last week. It was designated by the WHO as a ‘variant of concern’, the health body’s top category for worrying coronavirus variants.
The Centre had on Sunday introduced stricter guidelines for people travelling from or transiting through ‘at-risk’ countries and issued a slew of directions to the states for ramping up testing-surveillance measures and health facilities.
There are about a dozen countries which have been designated as ‘at-risk’ by the Centre due to the detection of omicron cases there.