Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday chaired a meeting with health ministers of states to discuss strategy with regard to the new COVID-19 Omicron subvariant BF.7. The new subvariant has led to a massive spike in COVID-19 caseload in China.
Union Health Minister advised States/UTs to ramp up vaccination of all eligible population, especially of the elderly and vulnerable population group. He cautioned against spreading of misinformation by ensuring dissemination of factually correct information in a timely manner. In view of the upcoming festive season, he stressed on the importance of public awareness campaigns regarding adherence to Covid Appropriate Behaviour. Dr Mandaviya requested the State Health Ministers to personally monitor and review the preparedness of all infrastructure and ensure there is adequate stock of essential medicines.
Dr. Mandaviya said that irrespective of the new COVID variants, ‘Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate & Adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour’ continue to remain the tested strategy for COVID management. This would facilitate undertaking of appropriate public health measures, he said. States/UTs were also requested to expeditiously increase the rate of testing from the current rate of 79 tests per million, as on week ending 22nd December, 2022. They were further advised to increase the share of RT-PCR in tests.
States/UTs were briefed on the global COVID-19 situation and the domestic scenario. They were reminded that Union Health Ministry has already issued “Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in context of COVID-19” in June 2022 which calls for early detection, isolation, testing and timely management of suspected and confirmed cases to detect and contain outbreaks of new SARS-CoV-2 variants. Union Health Minister requested States/UTs to ensure effective implementation of the same. There was comprehensive and detailed discussion on various aspects of COVID management including ramping up of hospital infrastructure; increased testing.
States appreciated the timely review meetings chaired by the Hon. Prime Minister and the Union Health Minister and advisories from the Union Health Ministry. They assured that they will work with the Centre for effective prevention and management of COVID-19. They informed that they are maintaining vigil and are reviewing the present situation. States also assured they will hold mock drill for readiness of hospital infrastructure on 27th December, 2022.
Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry also granted approval to Bharat Biotech's intranasal COVID vaccine on Friday. The nasal vaccine will be part of a booster dose for people over 18 years of age and will be made available in private clinics. The nasal vaccines will be accessible through COWIN, the government's portal for vaccines.
This comes after a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday to review the situation with regard to COVID-19 in the country, preparedness of health infrastructure and logistics, status of the vaccination campaign in the country, and emergence of new COVID-19 variants.