Centre sends teams to 10 states with high COVID-19 cases
The central government will send teams of experts to 10 states in the wake of the spread of Omicron variant. The states in question are either reporting an increase in the number of Omicron and COVID-19 cases or a slow vaccination pace, the Union Health Ministry said. This comes as India's Omicron case tally has crossed the 400-mark.
Why does this story matter?
The Centre's move comes amid concerns over the spread of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus. Several states have been forced to impose fresh curbs in view of the threat. Omicron is the most heavily mutated version of the coronavirus so far and is said to be highly infectious. It has spread to dozens of countries since being detected from southern Africa last month.
Teams to visit these states
The 10 states where teams will be sent are Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Mizoram, Karnataka, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Punjab. The teams will be deployed for five days and work with state authorities on improving testing, surveillance, and contact tracing. They will also work to ensure adherence to COVID-19-appropriate behavior, availability of medical equipment, and required coronavirus vaccination progress.
Teams to submit daily reports
The teams have been asked to assess the situation, suggest remedial actions, and submit a report every day by 7 pm on the public health measures being taken to both the central and state governments.
Omicron in India
India has reported 415 cases of the Omicron variant as of Saturday morning, up from 358 on Friday. Cases have multiplied since the first two were detected in Karnataka earlier this month. Maharashtra has recorded the highest number of Omicron cases at 108, followed by Delhi (79), Gujarat (43), Telangana (38), Kerala (37), Tamil Nadu (34), and Karnataka (31). Poll-bound UP has two cases.
Several states announce curbs
Several states have introduced curbs in view of the Omicron scare. In Delhi, no Christmas and New Year gatherings will take place. Besides, bars and restaurants in the city can operate with only up to 50% of their seating capacity. Similarly, prohibitory orders have been issued in Mumbai effectively banning all large gatherings. Further, UP, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and Gujarat have imposed night curfews.
50% of Omicron patients fully jabbed
Roughly 50% of people detected with Omicron in India were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to an analysis of the government data. The study highlights that "vaccine alone is not sufficient" and following COVID-19 protocols and surveillance are key, health authorities said.