NDTV Coronavirus

Centre To Send Teams To 10 States With High Covid Cases, Low Vaccination

Omicron: The B.1.1.529 strain was first identified in South Africa last week (File)

New Delhi:

The centre will send teams to 10 states “which are either reporting an increasing number of Omicron and COVID-19 cases or slow vaccination pace”, the Union Health Ministry has said.

According to the order issued yesterday, these states are Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Mizoram, Karnataka, Bihar, Jharkhand and Punjab.

Also on the list are Punjab and Uttar Pradesh – both are due to hold elections in two months’ time. UP’s Allahabad High Court has already flagged the Omicron threat, and on Thursday asked the Election Commission and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider postponing polls by one or two months.

Sources in the top poll body told NDTV today that a meeting with Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan to discuss Covid in UP and other poll-bound states has been scheduled for Monday.

The centre’s teams will be deployed for five days, during which time they will work with state health authorities on improving testing and surveillance and enforcing Covid-appropriate behaviour. They will also check on vaccination rates in each state, as well as review existing hospital infrastructure.

Also on the teams’ review checklist will be genome sequencing of samples to identify cases of the Omicron strain – which the World Health Organization has warned is significantly more transmissible than the Delta variant that triggered the second wave of infections in the country.

“State-level central teams will assess the situation, suggest remedial actions and submit a report every evening by 7 pm on the public health activities being undertaken…” the Health Ministry said.

READ ALSO :  More than 15,000 COVID-19 cases in India as coronavirus pandemic weakens

The states identified in Friday’s order include five with the highest active caseloads – Kerala (26,265), Maharashtra (12,108), Bengal (7,466), Karnataka (7,280) and Tamil Nadu (6,798).

States with relatively low active caseloads – Mizoram (1,498), Bihar (79) and Jharkhand (273) – instead have red flags over vaccination rates amid fears Omicron is more resistant to vaccines. Bihar has administered 3.9 crore second doses, Jharkhand 1.05 crore and Mizoram 5.84 lakh.

Bengal, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab and Mizoram were also on a list of states warned by the centre last month over slow vaccination rates; “a decrease in testing would undermine the actual infection spread within the community,” the Health Secretary told state officials then.

This morning the Health Ministry said India’s overall Omicron caseload had jumped to 415 – it was 385 on Friday evening, after having crossed 200 on Tuesday and 100 eight days ago.

Maharashtra (108), Kerala (37), Karnataka (31) and Tamil Nadu (34) all have worryingly high Omicron caseloads. In addition, Bengal has three and poll-bound UP two. 

On Wednesday the Health Ministry wrote to all states and UTs to urge them to step up efforts to track and contain Omicron, and to use measures like night curfews and extensive testing to do so.

On Saturday morning the Health Ministry said 7,189 new COVID-19 cases had been detected In the past 24 hours, with the biggest addition to active caseloads – 530 cases – from Maharashtra.

Source link