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Vikash Sharma

The new strain of SARS-CoV-2 virus (B.1.1.529) has now been designated as a ‘Variant of Concern’. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has named it Omicron, in line with naming protocols. The variant which has been detected in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong has now forced several countries including India to initiate precautionary measures to prevent its spread.

The Odisha government’s Health Department too has swung into action by directing district Collectors to intensify surveillance, especially on those coming from foreign countries. Director, Public Health, Niranjan Mishra, on Saturday said that the Centre has advised all states, Union Territories for conducting screening of passengers coming from the countries where the new Covid-19 variant has been detected.

“Already clear instructions have been issued to district Collectors, Municipal Commissioners to ensure surveillance, testing of all passengers. Those who will test positive will be isolated and their samples will be sent for genome sequencing as per the protocol,” said Mishra.

Mishra further said that the virus has mutated over 30 times. Everybody needs to be cautious and instructions have been issued to all laboratories to send RTPCR samples for genome sequencing at regular intervals to the Institute of Life Sciences (ILS), he said.

On spike in Covid-19 cases in educational institutions in different parts of the State, including Sundergarh, Mishra said Collectors and other local administrative officials have been entrusted to take appropriate action. “The positive thing is that so far there has been no hospitalisation,” he said.

Mishra said school authorities have already been asked to ensure that those who show symptoms should not be allowed in schools. “We will ask authorities to keep isolation facilities in hostels so that the students can be isolated till appropriate tests are conducted,” he said.

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