Amid Omicron surge, Centre directs states/UTs to prevent infections

It was directed to the states and all the administrators to make a strong framework at the basic levels

As Assam and other Northeastern states take to guard against the Variant of Concern (VoC), Omicron, amid rising infections in other states of the country, the Centre,  has asked the states and Union Territories to take measures to prevent or control such infections at the district/local level before it spreads to other parts.
Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday shot off letters to the chief secretaries and administrators of all states and Union Territories regarding the measures that need to be taken in view of initial signs of a surge in COVID-19 cases as well as increased detection of the new variant in different parts of the country
"At the district level, there should be a constant review of the emerging data regarding the population affected by COVID-19, geographical spread, hospital infrastructure and its utilization, manpower, notifying containment zones, enforcement of perimeter of containment zones etc. This evidence should be the basis for effective decision-making at the district level itself," Bhushan wrote on Tuesday.
"Such a strategy ensures that the infection is contained at the local level itself before it spreads to other parts of the state," he said.
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had recently stated that the state would, for now, abide by the central government's guidelines and therefore not issue any new SOP on COVID-19.
"However, if the Omicron variant ( which has infected over 200 people in the country so far) is detected in the state and poses a threat to human life, then we will contemplate issuing guidelines to contain the variant," Sarma told media persons after taking stock of services provided to patients at Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) last Sunday.
Based on current scientific evidence, the VoC, Omicron, is at least three times more transmissible than the Delta VoC. Besides, the Delta VoC is still present in different parts of the country.
The Union health secretary stated that the main elements of the framework to be used by the states and Union Territories to facilitate decision making at the district level is test positivity of 10 per cent or more in the last one week or bed occupancy of 40 per cent or more on oxygen supported or ICU beds.
Representational image.
Image: Representational image.
"In case any one of these parameters are met in any district, district-level containment measures and restrictions may be put in place forthwith. Equally important, the restrictions must be strictly enforced," the Union health secretary said.
Based on current scientific evidence, the VoC, Omicron, is at least three times more transmissible than the Delta VoC. Besides, the Delta VoC is still present in different parts of the country.
"Hence, even greater foresight, data analysis, dynamic decision making and strict and prompt containment action are required at the local and district level. The decision-making at the State/UT and district level must be very prompt and focused," Bhushan mentioned in the letter.
"However, based on the local situation and population characteristics such as density, etc., and keeping in mind the higher transmissibility of Omicron, States/UTs can take containment measures and restrictions even before these thresholds are reached," he stated.
Some of the strategic areas of intervention are containment, test, track, surveillance, clinical management, vaccination and COVID Appropriate behavior. 



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