Amidst initial signs of a surge in cases of COVID-19 as well as increased detection of Omicron variant in different parts of the country, the Centre on Monday issued a fresh advisory to all States and UTs to deal with the pandemic situation.
In the advisory, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said States and Union Territories might consider imposing need-based, local curbs and restrictions to control the crowd during the festive season.
Asking States and UTs not to let the guard down, he emphasized that there should be a continued focus on the five-fold strategy — Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to Covid appropriate behaviour to avoid the possibility of a surge in COVID-19 cases, especially keeping in view the new Variant of Concern (VOC).
He asked the States and UTs to refer to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) order issued for ensuring implementation of the measures as conveyed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on December 21.
”The country has witnessed an overall decline in active cases. However, the new variant, Omicron, is reported to be at least three times more transmissible than the Delta VOC and is posing a new challenge for the Covid containment measures,” the communication said.
In the countries with Omicron-driven surge, the home secretary said, the growth trajectory of cases has been very steep. For example, 578 Omicron cases have already been reported in 19 States and UTs so far in our country.
He said globally; Omicron cases have already been reported in 116 countries. Further, the surge in cases is reported across various countries, especially in the US, the UK, Europe (France, Italy, Spain), Russia, South Africa, Vietnam, Australia, etc.
In the MoHFW advisory of December 21, Bhalla said a normative framework had been provided. However, with the distinct presence of the Delta variant and detection of Omicron cases in many States, there is a need for more incredible foresight, data analysis, dynamic decision making, and strict and prompt containment actions at the local and district levels, based on the assessment of the situation.
The home secretary said on December 23, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the status of COVID-19, Omicron VOC, and the preparedness of health systems across the country.
After review, the prime minister has directed that everyone maintain a high level of vigil and alertness.
The state governments should ensure that the health systems in the States are strengthened to meet any challenge posed by the new variant, Bhalla said.
State governments and UT administrations should ensure that oxygen supply equipment is installed and fully functional and the buffer stock of essential drugs is maintained. ”I would like to reiterate that all the States and UTs must observe all precautions and not let the guard down. Based on the normative framework and assessment of the situation, local and district administrations should promptly take appropriate containment measures. States may consider imposing need-based, local curbs and restrictions to control the crowd during the festive season,” he said.
Bhalla said the State enforcement machinery should strictly enforce the norms of Covid appropriate behaviour.
To discourage any misinformation in respect of the new VOC, which creates anxiety among the public, all States and UTs should proactively and regularly hold media briefings at the highest level to disseminate the correct information to them,” he said.
The home secretary said States and UTs should also educate them about various preventive measures undertaken and strictly advise them to follow Covid appropriate behaviour. ”I would, therefore, urge you to issue necessary directions to the districts and all other local authorities concerned, to take the measures required for prompt and effective management of COVID-19, strict compliance with various advisories issued by the MoHFW on the new VOC, and strict enforcement of Covid. Appropriate behaviour,” he said.
J&K: 85 people Died of COVID in 24 Days
In Jammu and Kashmir, especially in the Jammu division, once again, the process of death of corona infected patients has started. So far this month, 85 patients have died. Of these, 54 are residents of the Jammu division. Many of the patients who died were those who had taken both doses. However, many of them were already suffering from some disease.
According to the National Health Mission data, eight more corona infected patients died on Monday. Four were residents of the Jammu division and four from the Kashmir division. In the Jammu division, two died in the Jammu district. A 65-year-old man from Akhnoor, a Gudha Brahmin, was also among those killed. The maximum number of deaths this month, thirty patients, occurred in the Jammu district. All of them were residents of different areas of the Jammu district. Twelve patients had taken both doses of the corona vaccine. Apart from this, four were residents of Udhampur district, while four were residents of Rajouri, two Doda, five Kathua, one Kishtwar, four Poonch, two Ramban and two Reasi. Samba is the only district where not a single patient died.
In Kashmir, seven corona infected patients died in the Srinagar district while four in Baramulla, eight in Budgam, three in Pulwama, four in Kupwara, four in Anantnag, one in Bandipora, one in Kulgam. On the other hand, not a single patient died in Shopian and Ganderbal districts. In the second wave of corona infection, the maximum number of patients died in the Jammu district.
Although the number of patients who died is less, the maximum number of patients are dying in the Jammu district. About 33 per cent of the total deaths occurred in the Jammu district. Principal of GMC Jammu, Dr Shashi Sudan, says that many of the patients who died after taking both doses were already suffering from other diseases. She asked all to follow Corona appropriate behaviour. She said that only by following all the protocols one could avoid the third wave.
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