Community surveillance to be strengthened to tackle Omicron

Increased genetic sequencing among those coming from nations not deemed ‘at risk’

The Health department has decided to strengthen community surveillance for the early detection of Omicron virus variant.

At a high-level meeting held here to assess the threat posed by the variant, it was decided that the sampling and genetic sequencing would be increased in the case of travellers coming into the State from nations which are not deemed to be “at risk”.

Though airport surveillance has been strengthened and is being carried out systematically, many people who test negative for COVID-19 on arrival at airport seem to be testing positive at a later stage. Which is why community surveillance has to be upped, the meeting said.

15 cases

Till now 15 cases of Omicron have been reported in the State. The meeting decided that samples of those who come into the State from other States and test positive be also sent for genetic sequencing. Samples should also be sent for genetic sequencing wherever case clusters are found. Those who are hospitalised after confirming Omicron positive would be discharged only after they test negative and after keeping them under observation.

The meeting also discussed the possible scenario of a sudden surge in hospitalisation within a short time if Omicron cases increase and the preparations that needed to be done, including the enlisting of the cooperation of private hospitals.

Strict protocols

Health Minister, Veena George said that as more cases of Omicron seem to be detected in persons coming into Kerala from nations which are not deemed to be “at risk”, those who are asked to go on self- monitoring should strictly follow protocols.

At present, those who are coming from nations deemed to be at “high-risk” are asked to go on seven days’ quarantine followed by seven days of self-monitoring. Those who are coming from nations not deemed to be “at-risk” are to be under for self observation for 14 days.

However, many of these people are found to be violating the norms set for self-observation and this can potentially affect the State’s efforts to keep Omicron transmission under check. Hence, those people should strictly follow the norms of self-monitoring and ensure that they do not frequent any crowded public places.

Vaccination

Though there is no scarcity of vaccines in the State at present, many are not interested in taking vaccines, the meeting pointed out. A lot many others are staying away citing health reasons such as allergies.

With Christmas and New Year season festivities just round the corner, people should take utmost precautions on maintaining COVID protocols to prevent a surge in cases post festivities, the meeting said.

Principal Secretary (Health), Rajan Khobragade; Director of Health Services V. R. Raju; and other senior Health officials from the State and district took part ion the meeting.

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