New Omicron Variant Detected, Health Ministry Reviews COVID Situation

With Diwali around the corner and the COVID menace apparently rearing its head again with Omicron’s BQ.1 variant, the Union minister of health and family welfare, Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, chaired a meeting on the pandemic situation in the country.

NEW DELHI | Updated: 18 October, 2022 11:16 pm IST
Union minister of health and family welfare Dr Mansukh Mandaviya

With Diwali around the corner and the COVID menace apparently rearing its head again with Omicron’s BQ.1 variant, the Union minister of health and family welfare, Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, chaired a meeting on the pandemic situation in the country on Tuesday.

The review meeting at the ministry was attended by public health experts and officials. Apart from reviewing the COVID-19 situation, the status of the vaccination drive and the global scenario of new variants of the virus were also discussed.

Lav Agarwal, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), made a detailed presentation on the global scenario of a surge in COVID-19 cases, primarily in Europe and an analysis of various Omicron variants in the world.

“The presentation included a detailed analysis of the COVID-19 situation in the country with the trend of COVID-19 cases, daily cases being reported, active cases, case positivity, and testing status along with state-wise weekly tests per million, including the share of RT-PCR in tests conducted,” the ministry said.

A presentation on the current status of vaccination in the country, the availability of vaccines and a state-wise analysis of vaccine administration was also shown.

Significantly, “the slow pace of administration of precautionary doses in the country” was highlighted by Dr Manohar Agnani, additional secretary, MoHFW.

Dr Mandaviya stressed the need to undertake adequate testing and effective COVID-19 surveillance to assess and control the spread of infection in a timely manner, said the ministry.

Dr Mandaviya directed the officials to continue to focus on surveillance across the country, particularly through sentinel sites, including monitoring of SARI and ILI cases and whole genome sequencing to scan for any possible mutation. The primary focus of the monitoring was given in the wake of the identification of Omicron variants in other countries.

Dr Mandaviya also urged officials to closely monitor hospitalisations due to COVID-19. He encouraged increasing the pace of vaccination, including precautionary doses to the eligible beneficiaries.

Many countries are witnessing a steep rise in cases with the emergence of new Omicron variants.

The Union Health Minister also stressed monitoring of the points of entry along with community awareness for continued implementation of the COVID-appropriate behaviour, especially in view of the upcoming festival season.

The first case of Omicron’s BQ.1 subvariant was detected in Pune on Monday. It’s suspected to be the descendant of Omicron’s BA.5. Omicron’s BA.5 subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are identified as dangerous.
As per the study done in countries, this latest subvariant has the capacity to evade immunity too. Doctors have cautioned people ahead of the festive and winter seasons, as earlier it turned out to be one of the prime reasons for the surge in COVID cases in various stages.

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