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Four cases of Omicron variant driving China’s Covid wave detected in India

At least four cases of the BF.7 sub-variant of Omicron, that has triggered the current Covid wave in China, have been detected in India

At least four cases of the BF.7 sub-variant of Omicron, that has triggered the current Covid wave in China, have been detected in India, according to official sources.

As per the data, two cases have been reported from Gujarat and another two from Odisha. The first case was detected in October by Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre.

The patients were reported to have been treated at home as Omicron is a milder form of Covid. In China it appears to be wreaking havoc because of lack of vaccination and lower immunity in the population, especially the older people.

However, there are fears that the Chinese wave could spread, and the Central Government on Wednesday advised people to start wearing masks in crowded areas as the new Covid wave in China has raised a fresh threat of the pandemic surging in other countries as well.

The decision came at a high-level meeting, chaired by Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, to chalk out a strategy to prevent a surge in Covid infections in India.

After the meeting, the minister tweeted, “COVID is not over yet. I have directed all concerned to be alert and strengthen surveillance. We are prepared to manage any situation.”

VK Paul, a member of NITI Aayog who heads the national task force on Covid, has said there is no need to panic, and that adequate tests are being conducted. He advised people to wear masks in crowded areas. Mr Paul said there is no change in the guidelines for international air travel yet.

The government has decided to hold weekly meetings with experts to co-ordinate on measures required to prevent any spread in Covid cases.

A close watch is being kept on the situation and sources said discussions included a strategy to block incoming cases at the international and domestic airports, laying down guidelines for passengers travelling from abroad in case more cases are detected.

Consultations with experts will also be continuously held on the new variants of Covid.

There is some concern in view of the approaching Christmas and New Year celebrations which results in large crowds that could lead to a sudden surge in cases.

The states have been asked to send samples of all Covid cases daily to INSACOG genome sequencing labs that have been set across the country to monitor and study the strains and take steps to fight the disease.

“ln view of the sudden spurt of cases being witnessed in Japan, United States of America, Republic of Korea, Brazil and China, it is essential to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants,” reads the letter from Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan to all states.

India has reported 112 fresh infections on Wednesday. Three deaths were also recorded over the last 24 hours, two from Kerala and one from Maharashtra.

The new Covid wave in China has overwhelmed hospitals and pharmacies have run out of medicines. Crematoriums in the country are struggling to cope with the rising number of deaths.

There is reported to be a week-long wait for funerals in some crematoriums in Beijing, according to an AFP report.

However, officially the Chinese government is keeping mum on the situation and claiming only 5 people have died.