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States urged to ramp up genome sequencing of Covid positive cases amid China scare

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to review Covid situation on Wednesday

A woman receives the booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine through the nose, at a temporary vaccination site in Beijing | AP A woman receives the booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine through the nose, at a temporary vaccination site in Beijing | AP

In view of a fresh spurt in Covid-19 cases in some countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and the US, the Centre on Tuesday urged all states and Union territories to ramp up the whole genome sequencing of positive samples. In a letter to the states and the UTs, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said such an exercise will enable timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country and will facilitate undertaking of requisite public health measures.

"In view of the sudden spurt of cases being witnessed in Japan, United States of America, Republic of Korea, Brazil and China, it is essential to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network,‚ÄĚ Bhushan said.

The states have been asked to ensure that samples of all positive cases are sent to the designated INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories on a daily basis.

Bhushan highlighted that India with its focus on the five-fold strategy of test-track-treat-vaccination and adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour has been able to restrict the transmission of the coronavirus and is having around 1,200 cases on a weekly basis.

Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya is likely to review the Covid-19 situation in the country on Wednesday "considering the international scenario"

The secretaries of health, Ayush, department of pharmaceuticals and department of biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Rajiv Bahl, Member (Health) of NITI Aayog V.K. Paul and National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) Chairman N.L. Arora and other senior officials will attend the meeting.

According to reports, several Chinese cities are currently hit by the highly transmissible Omicron strains mainly BA.5.2 and BF.7. Capital Beijing is experiencing a massive wave of the BF.7 variant with over 70 per cent of the city's population hit by the virus.

Hospitals in Beijing are facing staff shortages and an influx of patients ever since the government abandoned its stringent anti-virus controls earlier this month following widespread protests.

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