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Fresh COVID-19 advisory issued for states as Omicron cases surge; all you need to know 

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Keeping the Omicron threat in mind, the Centre has directed states and UTs to focus on local-level crowd control during the holiday season and strictly follow the five-fold strategy of test, track, treat, vaccinate and adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour.

Fresh COVID-19 advisory issued for states as Omicron cases surge; all you need to know 
The Centre has issued a fresh advisory for all states and Union Territories amid surging COVID-19 cases in the country with an eye on preventing a fresh wave of infections driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
The states and UTs have been asked to consider taking containment measures at the local level to control crowding during the holiday season.
Asking states to ensure enforcement of social distancing, Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla said the focus should be on a five-fold strategy of test, track, treat, vaccination and adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour.
Here’s all you need to know about the guidelines:
  • States could refer to the advisory issued on December 21 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which prescribed a normative framework for taking containment measures at the district level.
  • The new advisory asked states to strengthen the health systems to meet any challenge posed by the new variant.
  • In the December 21 advisory, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said there should be a constant review of data at the district level regarding the population affected, spread, hospital infrastructure and utilisation, manpower and containment zones.
  • This data should be used for effective decision making at the local level, he had said.
  • The earlier advisory had said district-level containment measures should depend on two parameters: Test positivity of 10 percent or more in the last one week and bed occupancy of 40 percent or more in ICUs. If any one of these parameters are met, strict restrictions must be implemented immediately.
    • In the new advisory, Bhalla advised states to regularly and proactively hold media briefings to disseminate the right information.
    • “I would like to reiterate that all the states and UTs must observe all precautions, and not let the guard down,” Bhalla said.
    • Although there has been an overall decline in active cases, the high transmissibility of the new Omicron variant is posing a new challenge for COVID-19 containment measures, the Centre said in the communique.
    • Till now, 578 Omicron cases have been reported in 19 states and UTs, Bhalla said, adding that the variant has been detected in 116 countries across the globe.
    • South Africa, where the Omicron variant was first detected, UK, US, Italy, Spain, France, Russia, Vietnam and Australia have been witnessing a surge in cases.
      On December 23, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a high-level review meeting with senior officials and experts on the COVID-19 situation in the country.
      Apart from reviewing the status of COVID-19 and Omicron variant, Modi also sought details on the preparedness of health systems across the country and has directed officials to stay alert.
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