Omicron variant doesn’t escape RTPCR, RAT, says Health Ministry

Students of Gurukul Art school paint posters in the wake of rising Omicron variant of coronavirus at Lalbaug, Maharashtra on November 29, 2021.   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

COVID-19 variant Omicron doesn’t escape RTPCR (reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction) test and Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday. It instructed the States to ramp up testing for prompt and early identification of any cases.

“States are advised for target/prioritized testing of passengers from the not “at-risk” countries also as part of the ramped up testing by the states,” says a Ministry release.

The instructions followed Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan’s virtual meeting with the States/UTs to review COVID-19 public health response measures and preparedness amid reports of Omicron cases across various countries.

The Ministry pointed to the critical role of vaccination as a powerful defence against COVID-19, the extension of the “Har Ghar Dastak” campaign till December 31 with focus on 100% first dose coverage, and the completion of backlog of second dose. The States have been advised to ramp up the pace and coverage of vaccination.

The meeting was attended by Dr. V.K. Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog; Rajiv Bansal, Secretary, MoCA; Dr. Balram Bhargava, Secretary (Health Research) & DG, ICMR; Dr. Sujeet K. Singh, Director, NCDC; State Health Secretaries; MDs (NHM); representatives from the Ministry of External Affairs and the Bureau of Immigration (BOI); State Airport Public Health Officials (APHOs); and other officials from the States/UTs.

At the meeting, Mr. Bhushan stressed the continued need for further vaccination coverage, adherence to COVID-19 appropriate behavior and need to avoid mass gatherings.

The States have also been advised not to let the guard down, and keep a strict vigil on the international passengers coming to the country through various airports, ports and land border crossings.

The Ministry said testing of samples of travellers coming from “at risk” countries on the first day and of specified category of passengers on the eighth day needed to be scrupulously done. Passengers from “at risk” countries were being advised to prepare to wait at the airports till the RT-PCR test report is available. Also all samples for genome sequencing have to be sent to INSACOG labs (mapped with the States) promptly. The States to undertake contact tracing of positive individuals and follow-up for 14 days.

While asking states to ensure preparedness of health infrastructure (availability of ICU, O2 beds, ventilators, etc.) the Ministry said that they should also focus on rural areas and paediatric cases. The Ministry added that there should be continued monitoring of areas where recent cluster of positive cases have emerged.

“Effective and regular monitoring of home isolation cases, with physical visits to homes of passengers from “at-risk” countries is a must,” said the release.

Dr Vinod Paul stated that the country is richer in its knowledge of management of COVID19. He underlined the continued importance of COVID appropriate behavior, avoiding large gatherings and ramping up vaccination.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 8:46:26 AM |

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