The Centre on Tuesday extended the nationwide COVID-19 containment measures till December 31 in view of the emergence of a highly mutant COVID-19 variant Omicron in some countries and asked the states to be vigilant.
In a communication, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla also asked states and UTs to strictly adhere to the November 25 advisory issued by the Union Health Ministry, recommending rigorous screening and testing of all international arrivals.
Bhalla also said that the contacts of the international travellers must be closely tracked and tested as per the health ministry guidelines, and the samples of travellers turning positive sent to the designated Genome Sequencing Laboratories promptly, as per the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) Guidance Document.
He said the state surveillance officers must also establish close coordination with their designated or tagged genome sequencing laboratories for expediting results of genomic analysis, and the States and UTs should immediately undertake necessary public health measures, in case of the presence of variants of concern.
Accordingly, the home secretary directed that the existing "Prompt and Effective Containment Measures for COVID-19" must be continued till December 31.
Also on Tuesday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan held a review meeting with states and UTs and advised them to ramp up testing for early identification and management of cases.
While underlining that the new variant doesn't escape RT-PCR and RAT tests, Bhushan asked states and UTs to ensure adequate infrastructure and supervised home isolation, according to a health ministry.
India logged 6,990 new coronavirus infections, the lowest in 551 days, taking the country's total tally of COVID-19 cases to 3,45,87,822, while the active cases have declined to 1,00,543, the lowest in 546 days, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Tuesday.
The death toll climbed to 4,68,980 with 190 fresh fatalities, according to the data.
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)