Send adequate number of samples for whole genome sequencing: DPH

The Directorate of Public Health (DPH) and Preventive Medicine has instructed all health officers to ensure that adequate number of samples lifted from community clusters, family clusters, children, young adults with severe lung involvement, patients with no co-morbidities who died due to COVID-19, international travellers and vaccine breakthrough cases, were sent for whole genome sequencing (WGS).

The samples should be sent for WGS to the INSACOG network of laboratories through the State Public Health Laboratory as per protocol. Officers should focus on aggressive and sustained genome sequencing and intensified surveillance, keeping an overall vigil on the COVID-19 situation.

In a circular to all deputy directors of health services and city/municipality health officers, Director of Public Health T.S. Selvavinayagam issued certain instructions to prevent any upsurge in COVID-19 cases in the State. In recent times, COVID-19 cases were rising in some European and South Asian countries, Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Five-fold strategy

Emphasis should be given on the five-fold strategy: trace-test-track-treat-vaccination, and adherence to COVID-19-appropriate behaviour. Officials must ensure effective surveillance by monitoring emerging clusters through testing of symptomatic individuals, at-risk contacts (aged 60 above) of laboratory-confirmed cases and individuals with co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, chronic lung or kidney disease, malignancy and obesity. Monitoring of influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory infection cases should be carried out continuously and reported on Integrated Health Information Platform, so that early warning signals are not missed and the spread of infection is controlled.

Persons coming from other States should be screened for symptoms at entry point in the border districts, railway stations and if found symptomatic, they should be subjected to the RT-PCR test.

‘Ensure SOPs’

Adherence to wearing of masks, maintaining physical distancing in all public gatherings and hand and respiratory hygiene, should be ensured. Strict adherence to Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) such as thermal screening, availability of handwashing/hand sanitisation facilities at the entry, regular disinfection, physical distancing and wearing of masks issued for schools, colleges, hostels, market places, malls, social and community gathering, should also be ensured.

All eligible persons should be motivated to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as per the recent expansion of the vaccination drive to children. Officers should enforce provisions under Section 76 (2) of Tamil Nadu Public Health Act, 1939 by imposing penalties through empowered officials for failure to adhere to SOPs.

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2022 6:34:26 pm |