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Pradeep Pattanayak

At a time when Omicron, the new variant of Coronavirus, which is said to be six times more contagious, has sparked a global fear, the Central government Tuesday said it is well prepared to tackle the situation. 

The Centre’s announcement is ostensibly aimed at allaying fears about the new mutant.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan Tuesday chaired a high-level virtual meeting with the health secretaries of states and Union Territories where he laid emphasis on three Ts-Track, Test and Treatment. He advised the health secretaries to coordinate between the administration, immigration and the airport authorities. Pointing out that health infrastructure plays a vital role in curbing the spread of the virus; he asked the states to strengthen their infrastructure and ensure seamless supply of medicines and oxygen cylinders.   

In a similar development, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya Tuesday informed the members in Rajya Sabha that no case of Omicron infection has so far been detected in India. Yet, the suspected cases are being examined and their genome sequencing is also being carried out. 

“India has sufficient resources and infrastructure to tackle the pandemic. We have learnt the importance of preparedness and Covid protocols to our cost during the Covid-19 crisis,” he said.  

Immediately after the meeting, Director of Medical Education and Training (DMET), Odisha Dr Ramaraman Mohanty told journalists that the State government, like the Central government, has also braced itself up to face the challenges ahead. 

“Fliers from the affected foreign countries will be subjected to RTPCR test. Even if they test negative for the infection, they will undergo a mandatory seven-day isolation period. After completion of the isolation period, their RTPCR test will once again be done. If anyone tests positive for the infection, as per the earlier guidelines, their treatment and contact tracing will be carried out,” informed Mohanty. 

“The places that are showing an increasing trend would be divided into clusters and tests would be carried out. Checking at not only airport but at all the entry points on the border would be carried out. However, there is no concrete information as to how dangerous Omicron is, how fast it transmits, how vaccines work against it etc. So there is nothing to panic. But that does not mean that we lower our guard against the virus,” he added. 

In case an infected traveller tests negative at Delhi airport and arrives in Odisha, what will happen then? Health secretary Dr Bijoy Mahapatra said the Central government will soon come out with a plan on how fast information can be passed to the concerned states. 

Meanwhile, the Central government has extended ‘Har Ghar Dastak’, the vaccination drive, till December 31. At the same time, the Covid restrictions have also been extended across the nation till December 31.

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