Step up surveillance, wear masks, says Union Health Minister amid Covid concerns

Health Minister Mansukh Mandviya makes a statement in Lok Sabha on December 22, 2022. The mask is back in the Parliament.

Health Minister Mansukh Mandviya makes a statement in Lok Sabha on December 22, 2022. The mask is back in the Parliament.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Amid a spurt in Covid cases in some parts of the world, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Thursday asked States to remain alert and create awareness about wearing face masks and using hand sanitisers, especially in view of upcoming festivals and New Year celebrations.

Making a statement in Lok Sabha, Mr. Mandaviya said the continuously evolving nature of the virus poses threat to global health in a way that impacts virtually every country.

India has been reporting 153 new cases on an average every day as against 5.87 lakh on a daily basis across the world.

“In view of upcoming festivals and New Year celebrations, States also need to focus on ensuring effective awareness within the community on adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour which includes use of masks, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene practices, besides following physical distancing,” he said.

Mr. Mandaviya said States have been advised to focus on heightened surveillance within the community and to undertake requisite control and containment measures. States have also been advised to increase the whole genome sequencing of all positive cases for timely detection of newer variants, if any.

Mr. Mandaviya said States should ensure the coverage of COVID-19 vaccine’s precaution doses are increased and awareness about them raised.

At present, the third precautionary does is not mandatory and is targetted at vulnerable population such as elderly people, frontline workers and those with co-morbidities. “So far, 220 crore covid vaccine shots have been given,” the Health Minister mentioned.

The minister said two per cent random sampling of all international passengers has already started from Thursday at all international airports to minimise the risk of ingress of any new variant into the country.

He further said that the health department has been proactive in managing the Covid pandemic. The Centre has also provided financial assistance to States in the fight against the pandemic, he added.

Mr. Mandaviya chaired a high-level meeting on Wednesday to review the COVID-19 situation in India and the preparedness of the public health system for surveillance, containment, and management of COVID-19. He urged people to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour and get vaccinated against the virus.

Emphasizing that COVID-19 is not over yet, he asked the officials to be fully geared up and strengthen surveillance.

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