Centre lists strategies to detect Covid

Genome sequencing, screening of international passengers, community checks to be taken up
Representational Image. (Photo | PTI)
Representational Image. (Photo | PTI)

BENGALURU: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has sent revised operational guidelines to states to monitor Covid-19. Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal listed out six major surveillance strategies focussing on early detection of Covid cases, containing the spread and identifying any new mutations or variants early. Meanwhile, the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met on Friday evening to discuss strategies to implement the revised guidelines.

“The guidelines highlight the need to focus on early detection, testing, and timely management of suspected and confirmed cases, while strengthening efforts to detect and contain outbreaks of new SARS-CoV-2 variants. These also call for close monitoring of long-term epidemiologic trend of Covid-19, supported with established genome surveillance strategy under the INSACOG network of laboratories,” said the circular.

Among the surveillance strategies listed are screening of incoming international travellers for Covid-19 to detect entry of the virus and its variants into the country from other parts of the world. “Randomly screening 2 per cent of passengers on each incoming flight into India will be followed. All positive samples will be sent for genome sequencing,” said the guidelines.

As part of sentinel surveillance, the Centre has asked states to strictly monitor ILI and SARI cases and test them for Covid-19. Meanwhile, all healthcare facilities, including private hospitals, must report ILI cases from the OPD, and an officer has to analyse the data of positive cases. This report has to be submitted fortnightly to the District Collector.

As part of laboratory-based surveillance, all labs should henceforth provide data, and the state health department will analyse the test positivity rate based on this data. The trend of Ct values will also be analysed. The Centre has also asked states to conduct community-based surveillance to focus on early detection of unusual events in the community, to look for large outbreaks, unusual presentation of cases, mortality etc. “The district-level rapid response teams will assess unusual events, and if required, outbreak investigations will be undertaken,” the guidelines said.

Meanwhile, whole genome sequencing of eligible samples will be undertaken on routine basis, and importance is to be given to sero surveillance and sewage surveillance too. The state has also sought the formation of district teams to report daily cases, and has to submit reports on weekly and daily basis, including hospitalisation data, to the Centre. TAC Chairman Dr M K Sudarshan told TNIE, “We are having another round of meetings to streamline the new guidelines, which will be implemented on priority basis.”

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