Mock drills will be conducted at hospitals across the country from Tuesday onwards in view of a spike in Covid cases in some countries, the union health ministry said today, adding that it is preparing fresh guidelines for Christmas and New Year.
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“The pandemic is not over yet. During the festive season, it is imperative to create awareness for adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour,” the health ministry said.
Bharat Biotech’s intranasal Covid vaccine has been approved by the Union Health Ministry for inclusion in the vaccination programme as a booster dose for those above 18 years of age, official sources said today. Those who have taken Covishield and Covaxin can take the nasal vaccine as a heterologous booster dose.
The needle-free vaccine will be available at private centres. It will be introduced on the Co-WIN platform on Friday evening, sources said. The nasal vaccine — BBV154 — received approval of the Drugs Controller General of India in November for restricted use in an emergency situation for those above 18 as a booster dose.
“There has been a trend – COVID starts spreading from China, Korea, Brazil, and then comes to South Asia. It has reached India in 20–35 days. We have to remain vigilant,” the health ministry said, and added that 10 counties are contributing 81.2 per cent to global cases. Japan tops the list, it said. R number (how many people one sick person may infect) in China is 16, it added.
Quoting researchers, the health ministry said the outbreak can be attributed to weak vaccines, low vaccination, lack of natural immunity, and abrupt lifting of curbs.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will meet with health ministers of states and Union Territories over rising Covid cases in some parts of world. The meeting will be held via video conferencing at 3 pm today. The Centre earlier today also issued guidelines for international arrivals, to come in force from tomorrow. All travellers should preferably be fully vaccinated according to the rules in their countries, it said.
Use of masks, and social distancing, will be required in flight and at entry and exit points of airports. Passengers with symptoms will be isolated and segregated from other passengers, and shifted to an isolation facility for follow-up treatment.
Post arrival, around two per cent of the total passengers in the flight shall undergo random testing at the airport. Such travellers in each flight shall be identified by the concerned airlines (preferably from different countries), the guidelines said. They will submit the samples and shall be allowed to leave the airport thereafter.
India, too, has the presence of a sub-variant of the Omicron variant, called BF.7, which is driving the new surge in China. Its four cases have been reported in India — the first one in July and the latest in November. Overall cases in India continue to be relatively meagre, at fewer than 200 daily for several days now.
Precautionary dose data from the Cowin website shows a dramatic rise in registration and inoculation since December 18, amid the new surge in China and appeals by authorities to get vaccinated. Around 4,000 people took the precautionary dose on December 18, which shot up to 57,000 on December 22.
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