COVID-19: India redoubles fight against coronavirus as cases surge globally
India has been undertaking a series of fresh measures to combat the COVID-19 spread in the country, following a surge in coronavirus infections in several countries, especially China. Following the central government's directives to ensure preparedness, several states and union territories also sprung into action, ramping up necessary hospital facilities and urging citizens to observe COVID-19-appropriate behavior. Here's more on India's renewed COVID-19 battle.
Why does this story matter?
- The recent surge in coronavirus infections in neighboring China has triggered a global scare and alerted the Indian government.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi also convened meetings with experts to review India's COVID-19 situation.
- So far, India has reported four confirmed cases of the Omicron BF.7 subvariant, which appears to be the reason behind the latest spike in COVID-19 infections in China.
COVID-19 readiness review begins; decision on second booster doses soon
On Tuesday, hospitals and other healthcare facilities across India conducted mock drills in response to the Union Health Ministry's directives to states/UTs to ensure preparedness. The Centre is also mulling second booster doses for citizens following the recommendations of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) in a recent meeting. India started administering "precautionary doses" in January, but many are yet to take their first booster.
War on 'infodemic', misleading information must: Experts
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya urged health experts and IMA members to avert the COVID-19 "infodemic" at a recent meeting. Several myths and disinformation about coronavirus, he claimed, were being promoted. This came after former ICMR scientist Dr. Samiran Panda urged the government to work on dispelling false information regarding the Omicron BF.7 subvariant in addition to working on other COVID-19 preparedness strategies.
Delhi government to ramp up health facilities
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia issued a directive on Monday ordering government hospitals to increase the availability of staff and necessary facilities, including beds, oxygen, medicines, ventilators, and intensive care unit (ICU) facilities. "The global surge in COVID-19 cases is a matter of concern for everyone. Hospitals need to prepare themselves well in advance," an official statement quoted Sisodia as saying.
Screening of foreign visitors at airports
Since last week, India has intensified the screening of passengers at airports, while RT-PCR tests have been made mandatory for anyone arriving from China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand. Moreover, authorities reported on Monday that seven foreigners, belonging to Myanmar and Thailand, have tested positive for COVID-19 in Bihar's Gaya, bringing the district's case total to 12 in the last three days.
Strict protocols to be followed at Delhi's IGI Airport
Separately, the Delhi government has also decided to deploy government school teachers at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport between December 31 and January 15 to ensure travelers adhere to COVID-19 procedures. Recently, concerns about congestion and overcrowding at the Delhi airport were also raised.
Karnataka government reiterates fresh COVID-19 guidelines
On Monday, the Karnataka government held a high-level meeting to discuss COVID-19 preparedness ahead of New Year's festivities. Making masks mandatory, it said all New Year's Day celebrations must conclude by 1:00 am. "Masks have been made mandatory inside movie theatres, schools, and colleges. Masks will be mandatory to celebrate the New Year in pubs, restaurants, and bars," said Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar.
Mayhem during second wave due to lack of oxygen, beds
During the second wave of coronavirus in 2021, which brought the healthcare system to its knees, India saw mayhem. Deaths of COVID-19 patients in all states/UTs were recorded owing to the lack of medical oxygen and hospital beds. The medical oxygen crisis had left many gasping. As a result, these aspects were reported to be the primary focus areas of the government's mock drills.
India reports 156 new COVID-19 cases
India recorded 156 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry data revealed on Tuesday. With this, the country's active caseload stood at 3,421, which accounts for approximately 0.01% of the total cases in India. The national recovery rate is currently 98.8%. A total of 163 recoveries were reported in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 4,41,43,342.