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Health Ministry issues advisory on continued COVID vigilance

IANS Dec 19, 2023

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on 18 Dec issued an advisory stressing the need for sustained vigilance against COVID-19 despite the World Health Organisation's withdrawal of the PHEIC (Public Health Emergency of International Concern) status earlier this year.

India has successfully maintained a low trajectory of COVID cases through collaborative efforts between the Centre and state governments.

However, with the virus still circulating and adapting to local conditions, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Family Welfare stressed the importance of maintaining constant vigil, particularly at the district level.

While certain states, such as Kerala, have reported a slight increase in COVID cases, the Secretary clarified that no new variant of the virus has been identified. Nevertheless, he outlined some key actions for the state governments to focus on:

* Implementing public health measures and arrangements to minimise the risk of increased transmission during the upcoming festive season.

* Ensuring effective compliance with operational guidelines for the revised surveillance strategy shared by the Union Health Ministry.

* Monitoring and reporting influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) cases at the district level regularly.

* Conducting adequate testing in all the districts according to COVID-19 testing guidelines, including a higher number of RT-PCR tests.

* Sending positive samples for genome sequencing to Indian SARS COV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) laboratories for the timely detection of new variants.

* Active participation of public and private health facilities in Ministry-conducted drills to assess preparedness and response capacities.

* Promoting community awareness to seek continued support in managing COVID, including adherence to respiratory hygiene.

Additionally, the Secretary informed us that the first cases of the JN.1 (8A. variant have been detected in India.

Expressing confidence in collective efforts, the Secretary said that India can effectively tackle public health challenges and sustain the positive momentum in the fight against COVID-19.

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