Mask Up, Take Vaccine: What Centre Said Amid Covid-19 Surge In China
India's health secretary on Tuesday issued a notice calling for genome sequencing of Covid-19 samples amid the sudden surge of fresh cases in neighboring China.
In light of the sudden surge of Covid-19 cases in China, the United States and other countries, the Indian health ministry on Wednesday held a meeting to review preapredness of the healthcare system in the country.
"Covid is not over yet. I have directed all concerned to be on the alert, and strengthen surveillance. I also urge people to take COVID vaccination," Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya was quoted as saying by ANI.
After Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya's review meet, NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul urged all Indians to take the precaution dose of the vaccine and said that masks should be used in crowded places, PTI reported
The Centre has asked states to to send samples of all Covid-19 positive cases to INSACOG labs to facilitate tracking of new variants. This comes a day after the health secretary ssued a notice spelling out measures being taken to keep the situation in check.
"ln view of the sudden spurt of cases being witnessed in Japan, United States of America, the Republic of Korea, Brazil and China, it is essential to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants," Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to all states, adding that sequencing would enable timely detection of newer variants.
The renewed attention to Covid-19 preparedness started after a worrisome surge in cases in China as it relaxed curbs. While the hospitals in China are "overwhelmed", Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and health economist, said that over 60% of China and 10% of the global population is likely to be infected in the next three months. " completely overwhelmed in China ever since restrictions dropped. Epidemiologist estimate >60% of ?? & 10% of Earth's population likely infected over next 90 days. Deaths likely in the millions—plural (sic)," he said in a tweet.
The epidemiologist had predicted that the novel coronavirus would become a pandemic in 2020, according to the New York Post.
Here is all you need to know about the latest surge in China and preparedness by other countries:
What has India said?
With reports of a surge in fresh Covid-19 cases in China, India's health secretary Rakesh Bhushan issued a notice saying that monitoring of existing variants is of "crucial importance." "Public Health challenge of Covid-19 still persists around the world with around 35 lakh cases being reported weekly," Bhushan said in the letter.
He said the "Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy" issued in June 2022 calls for early detection, isolation, testing and timely management of Covid-19 cases.
Over the past few months, there has been a gradual dip in Covid-19 cases in India. On Tuesday, India reported 129 fresh cases and one death. Total active cases in India currently stand at 3,408.
However, the situation is turning grim in other countries. Over the past week, Japan confirmed 1,046,418 new cases of coronavirus infection. South Korea too has been witnessing a surge in fresh cases. On Monday, it reported 87,559 new infections, the highest single-day spike in three months.
Meanwhile, the Union Health Minister has written to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asking him to ensure adherence to Covid-19 rules during his 'Bharat Jodo Yatra'.
"I request [Rahul Gandhi] that Covid protocols, including use of masks and sanitisers, be strictly followed during the march and only those who are vaccinated be allowed to participate," the minister wrote in the letter on December 20.
The 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' entered Haryana on Wednesday and is likely to reach the national capital Delhi on December 24.
What is happening in China?
By Monday, China officially reported 5,242 Covid-related deaths during the pandemic that started in January 2020. Eric Liang Feigl-Ding on Monday shared visuals purportedly from hospitals in China on Twitter. The visuals in the video showed people packed side by side inside a hospital, allegedly in China, with some patients lying on the floor. It was not clear which hospital in China the visuals were from.
Feigl-Ding is a public health scientist and works as an epidemiologist and Chief of Covid Task Force at the New England Complex Systems Institute. He was among the first experts to warn of Covid-19 pandemic in January 2020 as he called for preparedness.
"The deaths in mainland China is being hugely underreported outside of ??. Through a survey of hospitals, funeral parlors & related funeral industry chains in Beijing—there is a recent explosion in funeral services caused by the sharp increase in deaths," he wrote in a tweet on Monday.
China was under strict lockdown, called the zero-covid policy, till early this month. Under the lockdown rules, the local authorities could impose strict restrictions in case of any covid cases, mass testing was necessary in places where cases were being reported. Other measures included quarantine of patients at government facilities and closure of all shops except those selling food.
However, violent protests broke out in China in early November after workers at an iPhone factory protested over fears of being locked inside. Following this, the curbs were eased. Less than a month later, China is grappling with a healthcare emergency as experts warn of further spike.
A report by Reuters said that China's "abrupt" end of the curbs would cause infections among its "vulnerable, undervaccinated population with little natural immunity".
While China has been carrying out vaccinations, the rate of being inoculated among the vulnerable population is low. Only 40% of people above 80 have been vaccinated.
The efficacy of China's Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines has also come under question. Unlike the mRNA vaccines used in western countries, the "inactivated" vaccines used by China illicit lower immune responses.
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