New Delhi: India has in the past six months reported four cases of the BF.7 Omicron sub-variant, which is driving current surge of infections in China. Sources said BF.7 cases were reported in India in July, September and November and there are four cases so far and added that three cases were reported from Gujarat and one from Odisha. They said more cases have not been reported and the infection has not been found to be strong.
"There are currently ten different variants of Covid-19 in the country, with the latest variant being BF.7. At present various variants of Omicron are spreading in the country and the Delta variant can still be seen in the country," a source told ANI.
A sudden surge in COVID-19 cases in the United States, China, Brazil and South Korea has prompted the Union Health Ministry to review the pandemic situation in India.
As a precautionary measure, the government has from Wednesday restarted random sampling of international passengers at airports across the country for Covid.
"Random sampling of international passengers for Covid19 has started at airports in the country from today," a source told ANI.
Surat Municipal Commissioner Banchhanidhi Pani said a woman with travel history to America was found BF.7 variant positive on November 18 in Vadodara.
"She recovered after home isolation and her condition is normal. There is no need to panic, situations are under control," the official said.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya conducted a high-level meeting to review the COVID-19 situation in the country and the preparedness of the public health system for surveillance, containment and management of COVID-19 in view of the recent spike in cases of COVID-19 in some countries. Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Bharati Pravin Pawar was also present besides Dr K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog and senior officials and public health experts.
The Union Health Minister was briefed on the global COVID-19 situation and the domestic scenario.
Underlining the challenge posed by the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in some countries across the world such as China, Japan, South Korea, France and the United States, Union Health Minister noted the importance of being prepared and remaining alert against new and emerging strains of COVID-19, especially in view of the upcoming festive season.
Mandaviya also said that Covid-19 is not yet over and directed officials to be alert and strengthen surveillance amid a surge in coronavirus cases globally.
He urged people to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour and get vaccinated".
"The surveillance system for whole genome sequencing of positive case samples will track the variants through the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network to ensure timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country. This would facilitate the undertaking of appropriate public health measures. States and UTs have been requested to send samples of all COVID-19 positive cases to INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories (IGSLs) on a daily basis, for sequencing, to track new variants, if any," he said.
In a presentation, the Union Health Minister was briefed that India has been witnessing a steady decline in cases with average daily cases falling to 158 in the week ending December 19, 2022.
However, a consistent rise in global daily average cases has been reported since the last six weeks, with 5.9 lakh average daily cases reported in the week ending December 19, 2022.
"A new and highly transmissible BF.7 strain of the Omicron variant has been found to be behind a wider surge of COVID infections in China," an official release said.
Dr VK Paul said only 27-28 per cent of people have taken precaution dose. "We appeal to others, especially senior citizens, to take the precautionary dose. Use a mask if you are in a crowded space, indoors or outdoors. This is all the more important for people with comorbidities or those of higher age," Dr Paul added.