H3N2 scare: Health Ministry issues advisory to states/UTs

| Updated: 11 March, 2023 5:46 pm IST

With India witnessing a surge in influenza A subtype H3N2 as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Health ministry held a review meeting with Niti Aayog on Saturday.

Through a letter, all states and Union Territories have been asked to take stock of hospital preparedness including drugs, medical equipment, medical oxygen, etc, capacity building of human resources on existing guidelines as well as vaccination coverage against COVID-19 and Influenza.

Soon after the review meeting, the Ministry also issued an advisory to States and UT stating they all must implement “Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in Context of COVID-19”.

In an attempt to limit the transmission of these diseases, community awareness should be raised regarding adherence to respiratory and hand hygiene, promoting early reporting of symptoms, and limiting contact with those people who are suffering from respiratory illness, the advisory said.

“It should also be kept in mind that young children, old age people and people suffering from co-morbidities are particularly at risk and vulnerable to H1N1, H3N2, Adenoviruses,” the letter from ministry to states and UTs reads.

Since January 01, in furtherance, it has been observed that testing of respiratory samples is being undertaken by various ICMR’s VRDL network labs where almost 25.4 percent of the samples have tested positive for Adenoviruses.

People, particularly at risk, are old age people, people with obesity and other comorbidities (like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, chronic renal and liver disease, etc.), as well as pregnant females.

These categories of patients may suffer from a more severity of these diseases and may also require hospitalization.

The Ministry has also raised concern over the continuous rise in COVID-19 test positivity rates in some states.

It states, “while the COVID-19 trajectory has decreased substantially in the last few months, the gradual rise in COVID-19 test positivity rates in some States is a concerning issue that needs to be promptly addressed. Despite a low number of new cases, an equally low number of hospitalizations, and significant advances made in terms of COVID-19 vaccination coverage, there is still a need to remain vigilant and focus on the fivefold strategy of test-track-treat- vaccination and adherence to COVID-appropriate behavior.”

The Ministry confirmed that a total of 3038 laboratory-confirmed cases of various subtypes of influenza including H3N2 have been reported till March 09 by the States. This includes 1245 cases in January, 1307 in February and 486 cases in March (till 9th March).


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