Omicron cases must be treated only in designated Covid facilities: Centre to states – India Today

December 20, 2021
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Amid rising Omicron cases, the Union health ministry on Wednesday wrote to states and Union Territories (UTs) that patients of the new coronavirus variant have to be treated in designated Covid facilities with separate isolation areas.
It has to be ensured that no cross-infection takes place and adequate precautions are taken by healthcare workers in these facilities to prevent transmission among other patients and healthcare workers, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to states and UTs.
Bhushan advised them to regularly review and ensure that samples of positive cases of international travellers and their contacts as well as from emerging hotspots are promptly submitted to INSACOG labs for genome sequencing according to protocol.
Furthermore, states and UTs must follow a mission mode and focused approach to quickly track primary and secondary contacts of positive cases and facilitate testing for them, he said.
Read | What you need to know about Omicron today
Bhushan believes that identifying all contacts of such cases, quarantining them as soon as possible, and testing them in accordance with guidelines are critical.
He said in the letter that community surveillance should be prioritised to follow up on positive cases as well as contact them daily to monitor their clinical status and keep a check on symptoms.
“International travellers who have arrived in the community also need to be monitored by district surveillance teams and their testing on the eighth day needs to be ensured if they have come from ‘at-risk’ countries,” the letter said.
States and UTs should also undertake increased surveillance to detect unusual events such as new clusters of Covid cases, vaccination breakthrough cases, and re-infection cases, besides prompt investigation of such events by their rapid response teams, it said.
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Then they should send positive samples from these events to the designated genome sequencing labs of INSACOG, the letter said.
“All Omicron cases have to be treated in designated Covid facilities with a separate isolation area for Omicron patients. It has to be ensured that no cross-infection takes place and adequate precautions are taken by healthcare workers in these facilities to prevent transmission among other patients and healthcare workers,” Bhushan said.
The Union health secretary suggested states and UTs utilise the “eSanjeevani” telemedicine platform and call centres and plan home visits by special teams formed for contacting those under home isolation or quarantine.
“It is also important to highlight that, in the absence of sufficient tests, it is very difficult to determine the true level of infection spread. States are requested to provide and maintain adequate testing in districts, particularly those districts with more than five per cent weekly positivity,” Bhushan said.
Read | What are the major symptoms of Omicron?
With the onset of winter and increased pollution in some states, the prevalence of influenza-like illnesses, severe acute respiratory infections, and respiratory distress symptoms should also be closely monitored, he said.
Bhushan said that states must also focus on effective community awareness and follow up on adherence to Covid-adequate behaviour. “I am sure that under your continued leadership, we will be able to gather momentum and build on the progress made so far to bring the pandemic under control.”
“The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will continue to provide the requisite support to states and UTs in the ongoing and collective efforts against Covid-19,” said Bhushan in the letter.
Read | Increased severity in kids, more hospitalisations: Preliminary report on Omicron from South Africa
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