Even as India is seeing a steep rise in Covid cases driven by infections caused by the Omicron variant, there’s an urgent need to scale up preventive measures such as masks, vaccinations, social distancing and not to be complacent.
India on Monday reported 1,700 cases of Omicron variant from 23 states and Union territories, while also logging 33,750 new Covid-19 cases in a span of 24 hours, taking the active caseload to 1,45,582.
According to the latest guidelines by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the precautions and steps to be taken remain the same as before.
“It is essential to mask yourself properly, take both doses of vaccines (if not yet vaccinated), maintain social distancing and maintain good ventilation to the maximum possible,” the guidelines said.
Meanwhile, the Centre has advised states to treat fever, and sore throat as Omicron symptoms.
“Any person who has a fever with or without cough, headache, sore throat, breathlessness, body ache, or other symptoms should be considered as a suspected case of Covid-19 unless proven otherwise,” it wrote in a letter to states.
The letter by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan and ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargava urged Chief Secretaries of all states/UTs to set up round the clock functional RAT booths at different locations, engage medical and paramedical staff, and encourage the use of home test kits.
“Early testing of suspect patients and their contacts and isolating them expeditiously are one of the key measures to curb transmission of SARSCoV-2, causative agent of Covid-19,” it added.
The Centre also advised states to go for Rapid Antigen Tests or RATs, if results from RT-PCR tests get delayed.
Meanwhile, doctors at the Delhi government-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital said that multi-vitamins and paracetamol were the only treatment provided to Omicron patients.
To fight the rising cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, last week, announced that Covid-19 vaccination will start January 3 onward for children in the 15-18 age group. According to official estimates, there are approximately 10 crore children in the 15-18 age group eligible for the Covid-19 vaccination.A
Over 16 lakh teens have been vaccinated so far on the first day of vaccination, as per the government’s CoWin portal.
More than 27 lakhs teenagers in India have registered for the first dose so far on the portal. Around 7.5 crore children of this age bracket will be vaccinated across the nation under the drive. Those born in or before 2007 are only eligible for the vaccination.
In view of the Omicron’s potential to escape vaccine immunity, the country will also begin a “precautionary dose” for healthcare/frontline workers, as well as elderly population (aged more than 60) with comorbidities, from January 10.