· First case of new JN.1 variant detected in Kerala
New Delhi: Given the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in certain States/Union Territories (UTs) in India and the identification of the first case of the new JN.1 variant of COVID-19 in the nation, Sudhansh Pant, the Union Health Secretary, has shot letter to States/UTs. In the letter, he emphasized the crucial necessity of maintaining a constant state of vigilance over the COVID situation in the country.
Pant underscored that “thanks to ongoing and cooperative efforts between the Central and State Governments, we have successfully sustained the trajectory at consistently low rates.” Nevertheless, with the COVID-19 virus persisting and its epidemiological behavior adapting to Indian weather conditions and the presence of other common pathogens, it remains imperative to sustain efforts to effectively address the challenges in public health.
Union Health Secretary underlined the critical COVID control and management strategies as below:
- Considering the upcoming festive season, States were advised to put in place requisite public health measures and other arrangements to minimize risk of increase in transmission of the disease by adherence to maintenance of respiratory hygiene.
- States were urged to ensure effective compliance of the detailed operational guidelines for revised surveillance strategy for COVID-19 as has been shared by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
- States asked to monitor and report District-wise Influenza-like Illness (ILI) & Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) cases in all health facilities on a regular basis including in the Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP) portal, for detecting the early rising trend of cases.
- States were advised to ensure adequate testing in all the districts as per Covid-19 testing guidelines and maintain the recommended share of RT-PCR and Antigen tests.
- States were encouraged to increase number of RT-PCR tests and send positive samples for genome sequencing to Indian SARS COV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) laboratories so as to enable timely detection of new variants, if any, in the country.
- States to ensure active participation of all public and private health facilities in the drill being conducted by the Union Health Ministry, to take stock of their preparedness and response capacities.
- States also to promote community awareness to seek their continued support in managing COVID-19, including adherence to respiratory hygiene.