India heightens watch over China Covid spiral | Latest News India

The Center on Tuesday officially asked states to step up analysis of positive Covid-19 cases to detect new variants of the coronavirus, and officials familiar with the matter said testing and surveillance at airports could be tightened as the government moved to deal with a possible fallout. From a Chinese spiral wave.

Reports and social media posts from China – which painted itself into a corner with its Zero-Covid policy and lack of effective vaccines – spoke of overcrowded hospitals, overcrowded cemeteries and severe shortages of essential medicines since it reopened its cities. public anger

The country’s official death toll was unbelievably low on Tuesday, further fueling fears that the epicenter of the pandemic is being opaque with crucial data that could help ward off new threats.

The communique sent by the Union Health Ministry also noted the outbreak in China and several other countries of whole genome sequencing, a process that finds the exact variant carried by an infected person.

“Given the sudden reception of cases observed in Japan, the United States of America, the Republic of Korea, Brazil and China, it is essential to prepare the whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to trace the variants through the Indian Sars-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network,” he said. Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan in a letter to states and Union territories.

According to Our World in Data, Japan reported more than 150,000 new cases, the US more than 67,000, South Korea more than 65,000, Brazil more than 43,000 and China about 3,000.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will hold a meeting on Wednesday with senior officials and experts on the country’s Covid-19 situation, given the rise elsewhere, people familiar with the matter said, requesting anonymity.

A government-linked expert said vigilance is key, although there is no cause for alarm yet. “It is important to follow the situation in China very carefully. But I would say that there is nothing to panic about… The system is very vigilant, we have to be very vigilant. In terms of genomic surveillance, this is the most important part where we are doing genomic surveillance of people with symptoms,” said Dr NK Arora, chairman of the Covid-19 task force, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI).

Senior officials say controlling variation in China will be key. “Today we are watching the situation very closely,” said a senior official of the Union Health Ministry, requesting anonymity.

Another central government official, who is aware of the matter, said: “It is too early to make a decision about it, but if things continue to deteriorate there, there is a possibility that we will increase vigilance here at all crucial entry points and within the community.”

The official added: “INSACOG is already tracking changes in the virus through its whole genome sequencing network; so far, there seems to be no cause for concern both in terms of hospitalization and death rates not only in India but also in other countries besides China. from where the sublineage has been known so far.”

This person was referring to the sublineage that is spreading in China, which has been identified as BF.7. The strain has not shown remarkable characteristics in terms of severity or transmissibility in the US or other countries such as the UK, where experts have studied its spread in recent months.

According to people familiar with the matter, India also reported one case of BF.7 around October this year, but has not seen an unusual spike in Covid cases or higher hospitalizations.

The dominant Omicron sublineage in the country remains BA.2.

“RNA is a virus; so it will change at a faster rate but the sub-lines circulating throughout the country, including BF.7, have not posed a threat in terms of disease severity so far,” said a member of INSACOG, requesting anonymity.

“The fact that a significant portion of India’s population was already exposed to Omicron and also the high vaccination coverage, these two factors combined seemed to contribute to the severity of the disease. While China has been largely under lockdown, it has become a large pool of vulnerable populations and led to the rise,” he added. has members

Experts still warned against dropping your guard.

“What we have to understand is that we do not have a population that is naive to the infection. Due to vaccination and natural infection in the last three years, people in India have an immune system that is strong enough to handle the infection and not affect our immunity. However, we have to be vigilant and be very careful because we don’t know how the virus will behave,” said Dr. Randeep Guleria, former director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), who now heads the institute of internal medicine and breathing. and sleep medicine at Medanta Hospital, where he is also the director of medical education.

“In the last year, we have constantly seen infections derived from sub-lines of the Omicron variant and there have not been many new variants. We seem to be in a better position, but we cannot let our guard down, we have to be vigilant with new variants,” added Guleria.

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