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Omicron: Jharkhand ups vigil, offshore travellers coming to state on health radar

Ranchi: Jharkhand government has ordered all the districts to track all the travelers who have returned or come to the state from offshore countries in past 14 days on priority basis and collect their samples for RT-PCR test to contain spike in covid-19 cases. In the wake of fresh concerns over detection of Omicron, a new variant of Sars-Cov2, it has also directed all the 24 districts to ramp up surveillance at all the transit points and asked the authorities to reinforce thermal scanning at Birsa Munda international airport in Ranchi.

State health department issued a fresh advisory on Monday night in accordance with similar guidelines from the union government, which will come into force from December 1 for all international travelers. Health department officials said that they are again focusing on the principle of test-track-vaccinate to contain spike in covid-19 cases in the state. The new variant of the virus originated in South Africa but has already spread in about 15 countries triggering fears globally.  

Health department’s additional chief secretary, Arun Kumar Singh said, “All those who returned to state from foreign countries must be tracked and samples collected within 48 hours for RT-PCR testing. All positive samples must be promptly for genomie testing and rigorous surveillance of past travel details of all such returnees must be reviewed and reports be sent to state head quarters.”  

He added, “All the symptomatic passengers found during the screening must be isolated and taken to medical facility as per the protocol. If tested positive, their contacts tracing must be initiated.”

The state government has also mandated all the districts to reassess critical infrastructure such as beds, human resources, equipment, among others in advance to avert any crisis situation that was evident during the second wave of the pandemic. Due to the current decline in covid cases in the state, enforcement efforts had slowed down but steps are being made to reinforce them again.  

So far, 69% of the eligible population of have received first dose in the state and a few districts like Gumla, Lohardaga, Palamau, Garhwa, Latehar, Giridih, Chatra, Dhanbad, West Singhbhum, Simdega, Khunti, Deoghar, Godda, Seraikela and Sahibganj are below average in terms of vaccine coverage. Similarly, state has approximately achieved 32 percent coverage for second dose but at least 12 districts such as Godda, Dhanbad, Pakur, Bokaro, and Jamtara are lagging far behind, stated the advisory issued from the health department. “Districts must ramp up vaccination drive to strictly adhere to the principle of test-track-treat-vaccinate to contain the spread of the virus,” said Singh.

Notably, state health minister Banna Gupta two days ago had appealed prime minister Narendra Modi to consider halting of international flights to India from high risk countries to prevent entry of Omicron.