Omicron surveillance to be intensified

More random samples from international travellers to be sent for genetic analysis

The State will intensify the COVID-19 vaccination drive and implement the self observation rule strictly for travellers coming into the State from countries which are not included in the list of “high risk” nations .

With more Omicron cases being reported in the State, a high-level meeting convened by Health Minister Veena George here on Thursday decided to intensify Omicron surveillance by sending more random samples from international travellers for genetic sequencing studies.

Samples from localities where COVID-19 clusters are found will also be sent for genetic analysis.

All districts have been asked to be on high alert. Isolation wards have been readied in all districts and those who prefer to go to the private health sector would be allowed to do so. Surveillance will be strengthened in all airports and sea ports, where lab facilities have been created.

The Health department went into a tizzy on Thursday after it emerged that the traveller from Congo in whom Omicron was confirmed last night, had been moving about freely in malls and restaurants and that his list of contacts is likely to be pretty long.

It has been clarified that this person was allowed to go on “self observation” as per the protocols of the Centre as Congo is not included in the list of “high-risk” nations. The route map of this person would be published and that all those in the contact list should get in touch with the Health department, an official release said here.

The Health department said in a release later in the evening that two persons in the primary contact list of the traveller from Congo are negative for COVID-19. However, these persons will continue to be under observation for a week. They would be subjected to COVID-19 test again if they developed symptoms.

Since December 1, 1,47,844 travellers have come into the State through all four international airports, of whom, 8,920 were tested at the airports itself. There were 15 COVID-positive cases, of whom 13 were from “high-risk” nations. All COVID-positive samples were sent for genetic analysis

A total of 54 samples, including samples of those who came into the State before December 1 and those who tested positive on the eighth day, were sent for genetic sequencing. Except for the five cases of Omicron, the rest are all Delta cases.

The Health department said that all five Omicron cases reported in the State were in isolation and were doing quite well.

COVID-19 vaccination drive would be strengthened and special campaigns will be held on Friday and Saturday.

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