Covid-19 New Variants: PMO Reviews Situation and Calls for Enhanced Monitoring

In a recent review meeting conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the emergence of new Covid-19 variants took center stage. The focus was on the EG.5 variant, also known as Eris, which has now been detected in over 50 countries. Additionally, the BA.2.86 variant, named Pirola, has surfaced in four countries, according to information provided by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Union Health Secretary Sudhansh Pant conveyed the details of these variants during the meeting. He emphasized the worldwide spread of the EG.5 variant and the presence of the BA.2.86 variant in multiple nations. This high-level gathering included officials like Dr. PK Mishra, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who chaired the session.

Significantly, despite India accounting for nearly 17% of the global population, it reported only 223 new Covid-19 cases in the last week, a mere 0.075% of the global count of 2,96,219 cases reported globally during that period. Pant also highlighted that the daily average of new Covid-19 cases in the country remains consistently below 50.

Furthermore, the statement released by the Union Health Ministry asserted that the nation’s weekly test positivity rate remains impressively below 0.2%. This accomplishment underscores the effectiveness of the public health systems in managing the pandemic’s impact.

A critical aspect addressed in the meeting was the Genome Sequencing of various Covid-19 variants circulating in India. This analysis provided valuable insights into the genetic makeup of the virus strains prevalent in the country.

In response to the stable Covid-19 situation and the efficient functioning of public health systems, Dr. PK Mishra emphasized the importance of closely monitoring trends related to influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI). States were advised to proactively track these cases and ensure that enough samples are sent for Covid-19 testing. Moreover, the importance of robust Whole Genome Sequencing capabilities and vigilance against emerging global variants was stressed.

The session was attended by esteemed individuals including Dr. Vinod Paul, NITI Aayog member; Rajiv Gauba, Cabinet Secretary; Amit Khare, Advisor PMO; Rajiv Bahl, Secretary Department of Health Research (DHR) and DG Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR); Rajesh S. Gokhale, Union Biotechnology Secretary; and Punya Salila Srivastava, Additional Secretary to PM.

As the world continues to navigate the challenges posed by Covid-19 variants, the PMO’s comprehensive review underscores the need for continuous monitoring and agile responses to safeguard public health.

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