'Omicron Variant Doesn't Escape RT-PCR, Rapid Antigen Tests': Centre Advises States, UTs To Ramp Up COVID Testing

by Swarajya Staff - Nov 30, 2021 02:46 PM +05:30 IST
'Omicron Variant Doesn't Escape RT-PCR, Rapid Antigen Tests': Centre Advises States, UTs To Ramp Up COVID TestingA health worker collects swab sample for Covid-19 test. (representative image)

The Centre on Tuesday (30 November) reveiewed the public health preparedness with States and Union Territories (UTs) in view of new COVID-19 variant Omicron reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In a high-level review meeting, chaired by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday, the states and UTs were advised to ramp up testing for prompt and early identification of new Covid-19 cases as well as increase the pace of vaccination.

The meeting was attended by NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul, ICMR DG Dr Balram Bhargava, NCDC director Sujeet Singh, state health secretaries, representatives from External Affairs Minnistry, state Airport Public Health Officials (APHOs) and other officials from states and UTs, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

Reiterating that the revised Guidelines and advisories of the Union Health Ministry in view of the new variant of COIVID-19 have been shared with the states, Bhushan advised states to not to let their guards down, and keep a strict vigil on the international passengers coming to the country through various airports, ports and land border crossings.

The states were asked to undertake effective surveillance of international passengers. Testing of samples of international travelers coming from "At Risk" countries on the first day and retesting on eighth day needs to be done.

Further, all positive samples for genome sequencing to INSACOG Labs (mapped with states) should be sent promptly.

The states have also been asked to undertake contact tracing of positive individuals and follow up for 14 days.

Besides, the Centre has also advised the states and UTs to stregthen the testing infrastructure and strictly implement the testing guidelines. States have also been asked to ensure ample testing in each district while maintaining RT-PCR ratio.

Terming the reported emergence of the new COVID-19 variant as a “pandemic within a pandemic”, Dr V K Paul underlined the continued importance of COVID Appropriate behavior, avoiding large gatherings and ramping up vaccination.

ICMR DG Bhargava informed that the Omicron variant doesn't escape RTPCR and Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and advised states to ramp up testing for prompt and early identification of any cases, the ministry said.

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