New COVID Advisory Amid BF.7 Scare; Odisha Health Secy On Preparedness For Festive Season & Hockey WC

Bhubaneswar: Amid a surge of infections in China and BF.7 sub-variant scare, the Odisha government on Friday issued a fresh COVID-19 advisory considering the upcoming festival season and New Year celebrations:

It has appealed to people to strictly follow COVID norms, including the use of masks, hand washing, self-isolation if symptoms develop and no spitting at public places.

Speaking to the media, Health Secretary Shalini Pandit said the situation in Odisha has remained stable with below 15
cases per day since November and on most days, it is below 10 cases, while  Japan, the Republic of Korea, the USA, France, Brazil, Germany and China have seen a rise in cases in the last two weeks.

Hospitalisation in the state, which has an active caseload of 54, is nil. “Experts are of the opinion that the current variants circulating since last few months in India are all sub-variants of Omicron and have not led to any rise in cases or hospitalisation. Though new Omicron variants show high transmissibility, there is no evidence to suggest that it can cause disease severity or escape vaccine-induced community in our country,” she said.

Pandit further said Odisha is currently conducting 134 tests per million, which is higher than the country level of 109 per million. “We have adequate testing kits and are secure as far as oxygen supply is concerned. The test positivity rate in the state is 0.05%,” she said.

“Also, Odisha is testing 1552 samples to get one positive against India’s figure of 589 tests for one positive. The current testing and surveillance strategy as per the ICMR guideline will continue,” she said, adding that surveillance at airports and seaports is to be guided by the advisory/ guidelines issued by the Centre from time to time.

Elaborating on Whole Genome Sequencing for the COVID positive cases as a part of the INSACOG consortium, she said: “ILS and RMRC in Bhubaneswar are conducting such tests with all districts sending samples through courier. We would soon apply to INSACOG for affiliation for the WGS facility at the Bio Chemistry Department of SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack.

There will be no change in the bed strength (15 oxygen support + 05 ICL) at SCB and VIMSAR Burla till March 2023. “However, we will review the situation and can increase 20 beds at a time on saturation of 50% of beds with prior approval of DMET. All district headquarters hospitals have been asked to keep 10 oxygen support beds in readiness with adequate manpower from available resources,” she said.

Fever Clinics will continue in all health facilities.

The Health Secretary further informed that mock drills to check readiness will be conducted in all district headquarters hospitals including Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar, RGH in Rourkela & all medical colleges, on December 27.

She said that Odisha would also request the Centre to resume the administration of precautionary doses at government hospitals.

In view of the ensuing Hockey World Cup, more testing will be done in 3 cities – Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Rourkela- and if needed, more staff will be deployed. All UPHCs and UCHCs in these cities will have COVID testing facilities- both Antigen & RT-PCR. Walk-in testing facility for COVID-19 will also be available, she added.


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