India confirms first cases of new Omicron sub-variants

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A-19-year-old female in Tamil Nadu has been found infected with the BA.4 variant of SARS-CoV-2…reports Asian Lite News

The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) on Sunday confirmed the first case of BA.4 and BA.5 variants of Covid-19 in India.

“A-19-year-old female in Tamil Nadu has been found infected with the BA.4 variant of SARS-CoV-2,” said INSACOG in a statement, adding that the patient has shown only mild clinical symptoms and has been fully vaccinated and has no travel history.

Before this, a South African traveller was reported positive for the BA.4 variant on arrival at Hyderabad airport, added INSACOG.

Meanwhile, a male from Telangana has been tested positive for the BA.5 variant, according to INSACOG.

“An 80-year-old male in Telangana has tested positive for the BA.5 variant SARS-CoV-2. The patient has shown only mild clinical symptoms and has been fully vaccinated with no travel history,” the Genomics Consortium body in the statement.

The genome sequencing body further said that the contact tracing of the BA.4 and BA.5 patients is being undertaken as a precautionary measure.

“BA.4 and BA.5 are sub-variants of the Omicron variant circulating globally. These were reported first from South Africa earlier this year and are now reported from several other countries,” said INSACOG, adding these variants have not been associated with disease severity or increased hospitalisation.

Slow pace of vaccination

The Union Health Ministry has flagged concerns regarding the considerably slow pace of COVID-19 vaccination drive across states and union territories, and urged them to significantly expedite the pace towards full vaccination coverage by saturating all eligible beneficiaries.

This was communicated to all States and UTs by Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan as he reviewed the status of COVID vaccination with Health Secretaries and NHM MDs of States and UTs, through a video conference today.

Highlighting the urgent need for an intensive ‘Mission Mode’ push to COVID-19 vaccination across the country to accelerate the recent placid momentum, Union Health Secretary has advised them to plan for a two-month long “Har GharDastak” campaign 2.0, during June-July, with detailed district, block and village levels plans.

The objective of the ‘Har GharDastak 2.0’ Abhiyan is to vaccinate and saturate the eligible population groups for first, second and precaution doses through door-to-door campaigns, with focussed campaigns for old age homes, schools or colleges including the out-of-school children (for focussed coverage of children aged 12-18 years population), prisons, brick kilns, etc, according to the ministry.

The Health Secretary stressed a clear and effective communication strategy for increasing the pace of the nationwide COVID19 vaccination, noting that customised regional communication best practices have yielded appreciable results in India’s highly commendable COVID-19 coverage of over 191 crore doses.

During the meeting, focus on regional influencers, community leaders, innovative campaigns, etc was highlighted.

(Photo Anupam Gautam_IANS)

Underscoring that COVID-19 vaccine is a precious national resource, they were strongly advised to ensure that there is no wastage of COVID-19 vaccines at any cost. This must be ensured through active monitoring and on basis of “First Expiry First Out” principle, where doses that expire earlier should be used for vaccination first.

Pointing out that supply of vaccine doses has been made to States or UTs as per their demand since December 2021, they were advised to first use the unused balance doses over the coming months of May, June and July.

It was pointed out that in some states, persons who wish to travel abroad and seek to take a precaution dose within 90 days of the second dose, are being asked to furnish proof of the intended foreign journey.

Union Health Secretary reiterated that under no circumstances should any COVID-19 vaccination Centre or any State government insist on any documentary proof of foreign travel for those who are seeking a precaution dose ahead of their travel abroad.

India has reported 2,259 new cases in the last 24 hours and the recovery rate currently stands at 98.75 per cent.

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