Prime Minister Narendra Modi — after a review meeting on Covid today amid the surge in China — did not make masks mandatory, but advised their usage. He also emphasised the need for strengthened surveillance with focus on genome sequencing and increased testing for Covid. There has been concern after four cases of the virus variant playing havoc in China was detected in India. One of the cases surfaced as far back as July, the others in September and November.
The government has said there is no cause for panic. Sources said the patients had recovered with treatment at home.
PM Modi, however cautioned against complacency, saying states should ensure operational readiness of hospital infrastructure — including oxygen cylinders, PSA plants, ventilators and human resources.
A sub-variant of Omicron, the BF.7 does not cause severe illness, but it spreads much faster and can infect a huge number of people in a short time. The recovery rate is high, but deaths in absolute numbers may be high if the spread is more than that of earlier variants.
The BF.7 strain mainly causes congestion in upper chest and near the throat. Fever, sore throat, runny nose and cough are other common symptoms. Some people may get stomach-related symptoms like vomiting and diarrhoea. Doctors advise that getting tested immediately is important as it can help stop the spread by ensuring early decisions on isolation and recovery drugs.
At the meeting today, a comprehensive presentation was made regarding the global Covid-19 situation including the rising cases in countries by Secretary, Health and Member, NITI Aayog.
The Prime Minister was told that India has been witnessing a steady decline in cases. The average daily cases are down to 153 – when the global figures for the last six weeks have been 5.9 lakh.
The Prime Minister also asked everyone to follow Covid appropriate behaviour at all times, especially in view of the coming festive season. Masks should be used in crowded public places and precaution dose encouraged, especially for vulnerable and elderly groups.
The meeting was attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah; Health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, Civil Aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, foreign minister Dr S. Jaishankar, NITI Aayog chief Dr V K Paul among others.