Omicron variant doesn't escape Covid-19 tests: Health secy at review meeting

Published on Nov 30, 2021 01:25 PM IST

The health secretary has asked states and Union territories to ramp up testing for early identification and containment of omicron cases.

A person takes an RT-PCR test before receiving a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center.(Bloomberg)
A person takes an RT-PCR test before receiving a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center.(Bloomberg)
By | Written by Sharmita Kar | Edited by Meenakshi Ray, New Delhi

The omicron variant of coronavirus can be detected through RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Tests, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said at the review meeting with states and Union territories officials on Tuesday.

Amid rising concerns over the B.1.1.529 strain of coronavirus, the government also advised states and Union territories to ramp up testing for early identification of positive cases and to effectively contain its spread at an early stage.

States have also been advised to have one or multiple meetings on Tuesday with health officials, airport health organisations, bureaus of immigration and other relevant agencies for smooth implementation of the revised travel guidelines issued by the Union health ministry, effective from midnight.

Officials familiar with the meeting told news agency PTI that Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia INSACOG is closely monitoring the situation and expediting the results of genomic analysis of positive samples of international travellers.

Meanwhile, the Union ministry of home affairs extended the guidelines related to containment measures till December 31 in view of the new outbreak around the world. The order comes as Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya reiterated in Parliament on Tuesday there are no cases of omicron variant in India so far.

The Centre has already issued strict guidelines for people travelling from or transiting through 'at-risk' countries and issued a slew of directions to the states for ramping up testing-surveillance measures and health facilities. It will also review the decision to resume international flights.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has termed omicron as a 'variant of concern' and said the risk of its transmissibility is ‘very high’. The strain was first reported in Botswana on November 11, 2021, and was found in South Africa on November 14.

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