People who test positive for the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 should isolate themselves at home, if they have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and have no symptoms. They can get back to their routine if they test negative twice in a span of 24 hours after five days, according to Health Minister Ma. Subramanian.
After inaugurating a Siddha COVID-19 Care Centre on Tuesday, the Minister said the Health Department had issued the triage and treatment protocols for those affected by the Omicron variant. Accordingly, home isolation was recommended as the majority of those infected were asymptomatic. It was not advisable for them to visit hospitals, where those affected by the Delta variant were already admitted, as it could impact the nature of the disease. They would be tested after five days. If two swabs return negative for COVID-19 in 24 hours, they could get back to their routine.
COVID screening centres
In the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC), 22 COVID-19 screening centres had been set up, he said, adding that people could get themselves screened at these centres and remain in home isolation. Zonal-level medical teams would stay in touch with those under home isolation over the phone and inquire with them about their health and treatment.
“If unvaccinated persons tests positive for the Omicron variant, GCC will provide them a pulse oximeter and monitor their home isolation. Virtual monitoring by involving doctors will be started soon,” the Minister said.
Across the country, nearly 40 lakh people aged 15 to 17 were vaccinated on the day the vaccination for this age group was launched. Tamil Nadu accounted for nearly 10% coverage — 3,32,493 people of the eligible population of 33,46,000 were vaccinated. The State has 27 lakh Covaxin doses.
Noting that COVID-19 cases were increasing rapidly across the city, he said zones 9 to 15 had more cases.
“GCC is taking several measures, and is focusing on establishing containment zones. Wherever there are more cases of Omicron, patients will be kept under home isolation, provided with pulse oximeters to monitor their oxygen saturation level and virtually monitored by doctors. This will start in a few days in Chennai,” the Minister said.
The Minister said Amma mini clinics were started as a temporary set-up with 1,820 doctors. No nurses were appointed to the mini clinics, which had no permanent buildings.
“These doctors were roped in for COVID-19 management during the second wave of infections. We have extended their work period till March 31, and they are engaged in COVID-19 management,” he said.
“When people (some political leaders) issued statements on Amma clinics, we sought details on the number of people who had benefited through Amma mini clinics. Forty-three lakh people have benefited from Makkalai Thedi Maruthuvam and 4,500 from Innuyir Kappom. Likewise, we asked for a list specifying how many had benefited in the six months since the opening of the clinics. But no list has been provided so far,” he said.
There were plans to rope in these doctors into the Health Department in the same way that nurses and health inspectors, who were recruited on a contractual basis, were being appointed after being awarded merit scores, he said.
Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister P.K. Sekarbabu was present on the occasion.