Coronavirus News Updates: The decision was taken due to the second wave of COVID-19 in other countries and the situation in some states in India, the civic body said in a circular
Coronavirus News LATEST Updates: A 47-year-old woman, who returned to Rajamahendravaram in Andhra Pradesh on 23 December was found to have contracted the new mutated strain of the coronavirus .
Of the 12 UK-returned passengers who tested positive for COVID-19 , only the woman had the new strain, state Health Commissioner Katamaneni Bhaskar said, citing a report of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad. "Her son tested negative while another person who came in contact with her also did not contract any virus," Bhaskar said in a release.
Samples of all international passengers who arrived in India from December 9 to 22 and tested positive for COVID-19 will be subjected to genome sequencing as part of the Centre's strategy to detect the mutated coronavirus strain that has emerged in the United Kingdom recently.
Others will be followed up by the state and district surveillance officers, and will be tested as per ICMR guidelines, even if asymptomatic, between fifth and 10th day of arrival, according to the Union Health Ministry's guidance document on genomic sequencing.
Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said 63 percent of the COVID-19 cases recorded in the country so far have been among men and 37 percent among women. Bhushan added that 55 percent of deaths are found to have occured in 60 years and above age group and 70 percent of the deaths have occurred among males.
"There is no evidence that current vaccines will fail to protect against COVID-19 variants reported from UK or South Africa," said Prof K Vijay Raghavan, principal scientific advisor to the Centre.
The vaccines stimulate the immune system to produce a wide range of protective antibodies and the changes in the variants are not sufficient to make the vaccines ineffective, he explained.
Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said 63 percent of total coronavirus cases in the country were amongst men while 37 percent were among women. Giving the age wise distribution, he said 39 percent of the total cases were in the 26-44 age group, 52percent cases between 18-44 age group but only 11percent deaths were reported from this age group.
Daily deaths are also less than 300 after six months, says the health secretary, adding that 55 percent deaths are found to have occured in 60 years and above age group and 70 percent of the deaths have occurred among males.
In a press briefing, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan informed that cumulative positivity rate is 6.02 percent and daily new cases are below 17,000 after six months.
The dry run for COVID-19 vaccination successfully conducted in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and Gujarat on 28 and 29 December 2020, said the Union health ministry on Tuesday.
India had suspended passenger flights to and from the UK between 23 December and 31 December (both days included), after a growing list of countries like Canada, Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Italy did the same due to a more infectious coronavirus variant there.
Gujarat is one of the four states chosen by the Central government to conduct the mock COVID-19 vaccination drive.
India’s coronavirus tally rose to 1,02,24,303 after 16,432 new cases emerged in 24 hours. This is the lowest daily spike in infections since 24 June. Of the 252 new fatalities, 50 were reported in Maharashtra, 27 in West Bengal, 26 in Chhattisgarh and 21 from Delhi.
Six persons who returned to India from the United Kingdom have tested positive for the new UK variant genome of SARS-CoV2, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday.
India recorded 16,432 fresh COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the country's overall count to 1,02,24,303 on Tuesday.
Of the total COVID-19 cases, active infections further dropped to 2.68 lakh while recoveries surpassed 98 lakh after more than 24,900 patients were cured of the novel coronavirus , said the health ministry on Tuesday.
Ten regional laboratories have been identified by the Centre where states will send five percent of their COVID-19 positive samples for genome sequencing to detect the new coronavirus variant that has emerged in the United Kingdom recently.
The health ministry has also established the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) for laboratory and epidemiological surveillance and expand whole genome sequencing of the coronavirus in the country, aiding in the understanding of how the virus spreads and evolves.
The emergence of the new coronavirus strain in the UK has required India to increase viral genomic surveillance in order to understand the spread of the virus in a rapid and robust manner.
"The 10 regional genome sequencing laboratories spread across the country will cater to the nearest states, which will send five percent of the positive samples to these labs for genome sequencing," stated the Union Health Ministry's guidance document on genomic sequencing released on Monday.
The viral genome sequencing data generated will be analysed by the respective centres and sent to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Delhi, for collation and integration.
The 10 labs are DBT-National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, Kalyani (near Kolkata), DBT-Institute of Life Sciences in Bhubhaneshwar, ICMR-National Institute of Virology and DBT-National Centre for Cell Science in Pune, CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and DBT-Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad, DBT InSTEM/NCBS, Bengaluru, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences Hospital in Bengaluru, CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology and NCDC in Delhi.
The Central Surveillance Unit under the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) regularly collects data in a decentralized manner from various states. Such data will be used for selecting the representative positive samples from various regions for genome sequencing, the document stated.
Further, the data from the genome sequencing laboratories will be analysed as per the field data trends to study linkages, if any, between the genomic variants and epidemiological trends.
"This will help in understanding super-spreader events and outbreaks, and strengthen public health interventions across the country to help in breaking the chains of transmission. Linking this data with the IDSP data and patient's symptoms will allow us to better understand the viral infection dynamics, morbidity and mortality trends," the ministry said.
According to the action plan, in case the UK variant or any other mutated strain of the coronavirus is detected in any sample, it will be sent to any of the two notified COVID Virus Repositories at RCB Faridabad or NIV, Pune, for its isolation and further culturing.
This can then be shared as per notified guidelines for development of assays, which will help in validation of diagnostics and also testing of the vaccines under development.
The SOPs, which have been developed for the SARS-CoV-2 Genome Sequencing sample collection, deposit and sharing in May, 2020 will be adopted, the document stated.
An NCDC nodal unit will maintain a database of all samples of the new variants. The data will be epidemiologically analysed, interpreted and shared with states for investigation, contact tracing and planning response strategies.
The Central Surveillance Unit (CSU) will monitor the trends in various states with regard to identifying super-spreader events and outbreaks. A representative sample of all positive cases in such events will be sent to the designated lab for genome sequencing.
The objectives of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) is to monitor the genomic variations in the coronavirus on a regular basis through a multi-laboratory network. This vital research consortium will also assist in developing potential vaccines in the future.
In the present scenario, it will be pertinent that a genome surveillance is established to ascertain the current status of new variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the country and to establish a sentinel surveillance for early detection of genomic variants with public health implication besides determining the genomic variants in the unusual events, the ministry said.