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Omicron: Govt extends containment measures till December 31 amid global concerns

In a communication, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla also asked states and UTs to strictly adhere to the November 25 advisory issued by the Union Health Ministry, recommending rigorous screening and testing of all international arrivals.

November 30, 2021 / 02:18 PM IST
A medical staff member prepares the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, Calif., on Jan. 21, 2021. In a statement Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, California's public health officer, Dr. Tomas J. Aragon, said that officials are monitoring the Omicron variant. There are no reports to date of the variant in California, the statement said. Aragon said the state was focusing on ensuring its residents have access to vaccines and booster shots. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

A medical staff member prepares the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, Calif., on Jan. 21, 2021. In a statement Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, California's public health officer, Dr. Tomas J. Aragon, said that officials are monitoring the Omicron variant. There are no reports to date of the variant in California, the statement said. Aragon said the state was focusing on ensuring its residents have access to vaccines and booster shots. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The Centre on Tuesday extended the nation-wide COVID-19 containment measures till December 31 in view of the emergence of a highly mutant COVID-19 variant Omicron in some countries and asked the states to be vigilant.

In a communication, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla also asked states and UTs to strictly adhere to the November 25 advisory issued by the Union Health Ministry, recommending rigorous screening and testing of all international arrivals.

Bhalla also said that the contacts of the international travellers must be closely tracked and tested as per the health ministry guidelines, and the samples of travellers turning positive sent to the designated Genome Sequencing Laboratories promptly, as per the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) Guidance Document.

He said the state surveillance officers must also establish close coordination with their designated or tagged genome sequencing laboratories for expediting results of genomic analysis, and the States and UTs should immediately undertake necessary public health measures, in case of the presence of variants of concern.

Accordingly, the home secretary directed that the existing "Prompt and Effective Containment Measures for COVID-19" must be continued till December 31.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Also on Tuesday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan held a review meeting with states and UTs and advised them to ramp up testing for early identification and management of cases.

While underlining that the new variant doesn’t escape RT-PCR and RAT tests, Bhushan asked states and UTs to ensure adequate infrastructure and supervised home isolation, according to a health ministry.

India logged 6,990 new coronavirus infections, the lowest in 551 days, taking the country’s total tally of COVID-19 cases to 3,45,87,822, while the active cases have declined to 1,00,543, the lowest in 546 days, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Tuesday. The death toll climbed to 4,68,980 with 190 fresh fatalities, according to the data.
PTI
first published: Nov 30, 2021 02:18 pm
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