Experts review COVID-19 plan amid case surge

The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (Insacog), the group of government institutions involved in genome sequencing of the coronavirus, held a meeting on Friday to review its strategy as some parts of the country see an uptick in the number of Covid-19 cases again.

Fears have emerged that an outbreak is again starting as states including Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra are witnessing a rise in Covid-19 cases. The Centre on Friday indicated the possibility of a “localised spread of infection” in these states as they are reporting a higher contribution to India‘s total cases.

The health secretary wrote to these states, asking them to follow a “risk-assessment approach” on the public health responses without losing the gains made so far in the fight against the pandemic.

The Insacog meeting, attended by scientific advisory committee members and the heads of the laboratories involved in genome sequencing, reviewed the genome sequencing data.

“Intense contact tracing to look for the spread of infection and occurrence of severe cases is going on and at the meeting on Friday, it was seen if there is any unusual pattern or clustering,” said a senior government official.

The experts took stock of the situation and discussed the roadmap ahead.

“Some cases of recombinant sub-lineage have been detected,” added the official. The country is also seeing both BA.4 and BA.5 sub-lineages of Omicron. BA.4 and BA.5 were first reported from South Africa earlier this year and are now being reported from several other countries. They are responsible for the fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa.

The Insacog had earlier said these sub-variants have not been associated with disease severity or increased hospitalisation. However, doctors call for a cautious approach.

The consortium stressed on the need to accelerate genome sequencing of positive samples. The Centre wrote to Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra as cases started to rise in the country from the past one week – the number has increased to 21,055 cases in the week ended Friday from 15,708 the previous week.

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