Centre gives alert on Omicron variant, releases 10-point advisory

A medic collects sample from a passenger for COVID-19 test, at KSRTC bus stand in Bengaluru, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. Photo: PTI/Shailendra Bhojak

Thiruvananthapuram: The central government has decided to step up precaution against the new coronavirus strain, Omicron. To deal with the situation, the state governments are asked to take active containment and surveillance measures apart from ensuring better vaccination coverage.


1. All the countries where the new variant has been found should be classified as "at-risk countries". Proper follow-up measures should be taken with regard to those travellers coming to India from such countries.

2. The Centre has asked the state governments to enforce intensive containment, active surveillance, increased coverage of vaccination and COVID-appropriate behaviour.

3. There has already been an existing reporting mechanism for obtaining travel history of passengers coming through international flights. But in light of the threat of Omicron, such travel details should be reviewed once again at the state-level .

4. Adequate testing infrastructure should be put in place. It has been noticed that the overall testing as well as the proportion of RT-PCR tests have declined in some states. In the absence of sufficient testing, it is extremely difficult to determine the true intensity of the spread of infection.

5. Continued monitoring should be undertaken in both hotspots and in the areas where more number of positive cases have been reported. Apart from undertaking enough testing at hotspots, all positive samples should be sent to designated labs for genome sequencing.

6. All states should try to maintain their test positivity rate below 5 per cent. Steps should be taken to increase the number of tests, including that of the RT-PCR tests, to detect the prevalence of the coronavirus variant during the early stage itself.

7. The state governments should introduce adequate health facilities across all the districts.

8. The states are also directed to optimally use the financial support provided by the central government.

9. The states must significantly increase sampling from among the general population. The country has set-up the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium for monitoring the different variants of COVID-19. It is a multi-laboratory, multi-agency and pan-India network to monitor genomic variations of the coronavirus.

10. All states should hold press conferences and issue information bulletins in order to avoid false propaganda about the new variant and to allay the apprehensions of the public.

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