New Delhi: Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Thursday speaking at both houses of the Parliament said that the Centre is keeping a close eye on new COVID-19 variants. He noted that COVID-19 caseload has been on the rise worldwide and new COVID variants have been emerging regularly. In contrast, however, India has seen a decline in the COVID caseload and has been successful in containing new COVID variants so far.
“We are keeping an eye on the global situation of COVID and are taking steps accordingly. States are advised to increase genome-sequencing to timely identify the new variant of COVID-19. The two per cent random sampling of all international passengers is being considered at all international airports to minimize the risk of ingress of any new variant into the country,” he said.
Stating that COVID-19 virus is constantly evolving, Mandaviya said the health ministry is proactive in managing the pandemic and has provided financial assistance to the states in their fight against the contagious virus.
“So far, 220 cr COVID vaccine shots have been given. In the last few days, we have seen an increasing trajectory of COVID-19 cases across the world. India on the other hand has shown a continued decreasing trajectory of cases in the last year. Presently 153 new cases on average are being reported daily across the country, but globally approximately 5.87 lakh new cases are still being reported on an average on a daily basis. A large number of cases are being reported in countries including Japan, the United States, South Korea, France, Greece, and Italy. There are also media reports of a high number of cases and deaths being reported from China in the last few days,” he informed.
Briefing the assembly about the ongoing efforts by the Union Health ministry to tackle the challenge posed by multiple variants of COVID-19 and to manage the spread of COVID, Dr Mandaviya said, “States are advised to focus on heightened surveillance within the community and to undertake requisite control and containment measures. States have also been advised to increase the whole genome sequencing of all positive cases for timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country and facilitate undertaking required public health measures.”
Notifying about the public health measures advised by the health ministry, Dr Mandaviya said, “In view of upcoming festivals and new year celebrations, states also need to focus on ensuring effective awareness within the community on adherence to COVID appropriate behaviour which includes the use of mask, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene practices, besides following physical distancing. States should ensure that the coverage of precaution doses for COVID-19 vaccination should increase, and required awareness for the same is undertaken within the community.”
Dr Mandaviya assured the Parliament that the government of India will continue to focus on strategic principles of ‘Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination’ and adhere to COVID-appropriate behaviour to effectively manage COVID-19.
Dr Mandaviya’s address in both houses of Parliament was a follow-up to a review meeting he had recently chaired to address the issue of the global increase in COVID-19 cases, where the Health Ministry requested States/UTs to send samples of all COVID-19-positive cases to INSACOG labs to track new variants if any. The review meeting was attended by prominent officials of Ayush, the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), NITI Aayog, and the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI).
The Union Health Minister concluded his address by requesting the support of all members of the parliament to strengthen the government’s efforts.”Our enemy is changing with time and we need to continue our collective fight against it with perseverance and determination,” he added.