After some months of lull, COVID-19 is back with a highly transmissible BF.7 strain Omicron variant believed to be behind the current rise in Covid infections in China and across the globe.
Several countries including China, Japan, South Korea, US and Brazil are witnessing a rise in Covid cases. Taking account of the global surge, India has also initiated precautionary measures to ensure early detection and prevent spread of new strain. So far, four cases of Omicron sub-variant BF.7 have been detected in India.
Recently,the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued an alert and asked all the states and union territories (UTs) to take the samples of positive cases to track the variants through the SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network.
Earlier in the first and second waves of COVID 19, Jammu and Kashmir faced the bigger challenges in the healthcare system. Due to the pandemic, the whole health mechanism was affected. But by following the Covid appropriate behaviour, sanitization, hygiene and vaccinations, the UT somehow came back to normal functioning. According to the health experts in India there is a possibility of new variants.
But SKIMS Director Dr ParvaizKoul recently said that, “Modelling data from credible agencies (like from University of Washington) predict a low circulation of the virus for coming weeks in JK (Jammu and Kashmir), but models can go horribly wrong.
He also asked people to stay calm, observe routine precautions and vaccinate themselves.
But J&K still doesn’t have a genome sequencing lab to track the new active variants in the Union Territory. Also, in order to combat the potential outbreak, the booster doses for all age groups are the need of the hour.
Although, mock drills in the hospitals have been started to ensure operational readiness for management of Covid with specific focus on oxygen plants, ventilators, logistics and human resources.
Secretary Health & Medical Education, Bhupinder Kumar had also directed authorities to continue with a preemptive and proactive approach to keep a check on possible increase in the number of COVID cases in J&K in the wake of increase in positive cases being reported globally.
He also took stock of installation and operationalisation of genome sequencing labs in GMC Srinagar and GMC Jammu and instructed the officers to make these labs operational forthwith.
The mock drills will look into hospitals’ and health centres’ preparedness, like the availability of health facilities in all districts, the capacity of isolation beds, oxygen-supported beds, ICU facilities, ventilator-supported beds, and others.
Keeping in mind the surge in cases, we should all recommit to wearing masks while entering crowded areas in order to increase our protection against COVID 19. As is widely known, the only tool that can keep us from contracting Covid 19 infection, regardless of the strain, is a mask. Mask removal came too soon in this pandemic, which is still ongoing.
All those who have not completed their vaccination and those who are eligible for booster dose should take that also.
India’s weekly Covid cases have gone up by 11 per cent as per the latest updates on Tuesday. In the last two months, India consistently reported a drop in cases. Till last week, the average number of new Covid cases in India was under 300 on December 1. It further dropped to 163 last week. In the last 24 hours, 157 fresh Covid cases were reported in India. India’s active caseload is currently at 3,421.
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