Health Ministry Writes To States/UTs, Cautions Omicron 3 Times More Transmissible Than Delta Variant

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New Delhi: With Omicron cases touching the 200 mark in India, Union Health Ministry on Tuesday wrote to all states and Union Territories, (UTs) cautioning that the new Covid-19 variant was at least three times more transmissible than Delta.

“Omicron is at least 3 times more transmissible than Delta. Hence, even greater foresight, data analysis, dynamic decision making and strict and prompt containment action are required at the local and district level,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in the letter.

The Center has asked the states for the imposition of night curfew, strict regulation of large gatherings, curtailing numbers in marriages and funerals, restricting numbers in offices, industries and public transport.

“In case of all new clusters of Covid-positive cases, prompt notification of ‘Containment Zones’, ‘Buffer Zones’ should be done, strict perimeter control of Containment Zone as per extant guidelines must be ensured. All cluster samples must be sent to INSACOG Labs for Genome Sequencing without delay,” the letter to states said.

Currently, Maharashtra and Delhi have recorded 65 and 54 cases of Omicron variant respectively, while Telangana registered 20 cases, Karnataka 19, Rajasthan 18, Kerala 15 and Gujarat 14 cases.

READ | US Reports First Death Due To Omicron, Deceased An Unvaccinated Texas Man

Out of the total 200 cases of the new variant, 77 patients have recovered or migrated, the Union Health Ministry said earlier in the day.

Health Minister Addresses Rajya Sabha On Omicron Situation

Earlier in the day, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told Parliament that there was no evidence to suggest that existing vaccines do not work on the Omicron variant, PTI reported.

“There are limited available data, and no peer-reviewed evidence, on vaccine efficacy or effectiveness to date for Omicron,” Mansukh Mandaviya said in a written reply.

“However, vaccine protection is also by antibodies as well as by cellular immunity, which is expected to be relatively better preserved. Hence vaccines are expected to still offer protection against severe disease and, vaccination with the available vaccines remains crucial,” he said.

The Health Minister said states had been asked to strictly monitor international travelers in the community, contact tracing of positive individuals and follow up for 14 days and genome sequencing of positive samples through INSACOG labs.

On the steps taken by the government to curb the spread of Omicron, Mandaviya said all travelers coming from ‘at-risk’ countries would have to mandatory undergo Covid-19 testing on arrival through RT-PCR, followed by mandatory home quarantine for 7 days .

A repeat RT-PCR testing shall also be done on the eighth day of arrival in India to be monitored by state health authorities. Two per cent of travelers from ‘non-at-risk’ countries will be tested at random, he further said.

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