India on new Covid alert: Centre orders states to ramp up genome sequencing amid worrying surge in China, US

Fresh Covid Wave? The new mandate means that samples of all positive cases detected across India must be sent to INSACOG.

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People wearing protective masks and face shields arrive at a hospital, as coronavirus disease outbreaks continue in Shanghai, China, December 20, 2022. (Reuters photo)

The Central government has asked the states to ramp up the genome sequencing of the Covid-positive samples amid the worrying surge in nations such as China, the US and Japan. Union health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to the state governments on Tuesday to gear up the sequencing mechanism to track and isolate new variants in the country.

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The new order by the Modi government comes as neighbouring China has been witnessing a dizzying spike in the fresh coronavirus cases. Latest reports say that Chinese capital Beijing has reported seven Covid-related deaths in the last 48 hours. This is the official data from China. However, unofficial figures say that over 100 people have died due to severe coronavirus-related illness in the Chinese capital alone. The new mandate means that samples of all positive cases detected across India must be sent to INSACOG.

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At present, India is witnessing 1,200 cases on weekly basis. When one looks at the global tally, the covid tracker is reporting 35 lakh fresh infections on weekly basis. In his letter, the Union Health Secretary said that the revised surveillance norms for the pandemic are operational, which were issued in June this year. It is of pertinent importance that early detection of new variant, if any, should be monitored very closely, the Centre told the states. Apart from China, nations such as the UK, Brazil and Republic of Korea are also seeing new waves of Covid infections.

Mansukh Mandaviya’s review meet on Wednesday

After writing to the states, the Centre will also hold a review meeting on Wednesday. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will chair the meeting. ICMR Director General Rajiv Bahl, the secretaries of health, Ayush, department of pharmaceuticals and department of biotechnology, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization Chairman NL Arora, Member (Health) of NITI Aayog VK Paul and other senior officials will attend the review meeting.

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First published on: 20-12-2022 at 19:27 IST