Covid-19 Surge: 3 Cases of BF.7 Update

Covid-19 Surge: 3 Cases of BF.7 Update

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Covid-19 Surge: 3 Cases of BF.7 Detected in India

Amid a sudden spurt in Covid-19 cases in Japan, South Korea, Brazil, China and the US, the Centre and several state governments have ramped up the preparedness to tackle any untoward situation that arises in the country in the upcoming days. Meanwhile, India detected the first case of BF.7 in October in Gujarat. So far, two cases have been reported from Gujarat and one from Odisha, official sources said.

BF.7 is a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.5 and has the strongest infection ability since it is highly transmissible, has a shorter incubation period, and has a higher capacity to cause reinfection or infect even those vaccinated. Notably, the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in China is believed to be driven by the BF.7 sub-variant.

In India, people have been advised to get vaccinated and masks and random sample testing will be conducted at airports for passengers arriving from China and other countries.

  • Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya chaired a Covid review meeting with experts and senior officials stressing the need for continued surveillance even though there is no overall increase in the Covid caseload as of now.  “Covid is not over yet. I have directed all concerned to be alert and strengthen surveillance. We are prepared to manage any situation,” the minister said and directed that the surveillance system for whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track variants through the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network be strengthened.
  • Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will convene an emergency meeting on Thursday. The Delhi government is keeping a watch on the Covid-19 situation and Kejriwal has directed the health department to ensure genome sequencing of samples and take other steps needed to meet any eventuality, officials said.
  • Gujarat Health Minister Rushikesh Patel has asked officials to conduct “compulsory” testing of travellers arriving in the state from other countries. He also reviewed the availability of beds, ventilators, medicines, and oxygen supply in health centres and civil hospitals across the state during a meeting.
  • According to officials in Gujarat, BF.7 sub-variant of Omicron was detected in the state and people with foreign travel history were found infected with this variant in the past too. While the state government has not revealed how many cases of that variant are still active in Gujarat at present, officials have said at least two cases of BF.7 infection were recorded in September and November in Ahmedabad and Vadodara.
  • Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said there is no need for the people of the state to panic as there are no positive cases in the state at present. “India’s vaccines and those of other nations are much better, but China’s vaccines are much weaker, which has led to an outbreak in that country,” he said, adding that in India, it is doubtful if there will be a major problem, but “we are sure that the central government will definitely keep a strict watch on the situation”.
  • A political storm also brewed as Mandaviya wrote a letter to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to consider suspending the Bharat Jodo Yatra after concerns were raised by three BJP MPs from Rajasthan.
  • An official source said, “Random sample testing will be done for international air passengers arriving from various countries including China.”
  • NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr VK Paul noted that only 27-28 per cent of India’s eligible population had taken the Covid precaution dose and said people should take the jab and also wear masks in crowded places.
  • The Karnataka government has decided to start screening international passengers at Bengaluru airport, state Health Minister K Sudhakar said.
  • On Tuesday, the central government urged all states and union territories to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive samples to keep track of emerging variants. In a letter to the states and UTs, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said such an exercise will enable timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country and will facilitate the undertaking of requisite public health measures.

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