Centre holds high-level meeting on COVID-19, asks states to ramp up genome sequencing

New Delhi: EG.5 (Eris) reported from over 50 countries, BA.2.86 (Pirola) is in four countries

BY | Monday, 21 August, 2023

Amid detection of newer variants of coronavirus globally, the Centre on Monday held a high-level meeting and asked states to ramp up whole genome sequencing of positive samples and keep close watch on the global variants of COVID-19.

Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, Dr P K Mishra, after the deliberations highlighted that while the Covid situation in the country remains stable and public health systems remain geared up, there is need for states to monitor trends of influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) cases, an official statement said.

He also emphasised on sending sufficient samples for testing of COVID-19 while ramping up whole genome sequencing and maintaining close watch on the new global variants.

An overview of the global COVID-19 situation was given by Health Secretary Sudhansh Pant, including certain newer variants of SARS-CoV-2 virus like BA.2.86 (Pirola) and EG.5 (Eris), which have been reported globally.

He underlined that as per the World Health Organization (WHO), while EG.5 (Eris) has been reported from over 50 countries, the variant BA.2.86 (Pirola) is in four countries, the statement said.

It was highlighted that while globally a total of 2,96,219 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the past seven days, India, which contributes to nearly 17 per cent of global population, has reported only 223 cases (0.075 per cent of global new cases) in the past week.

The health secretary further said that the daily average of new COVID-19 cases continues to be below 50 from the entire country which has managed to maintain weekly test positivity rate of less than 0.2 per cent.

An overview of the genome sequencing of different variants circulating in India was also provided.

The high-level meeting, which was held to review the global and national COVID-19 situation, newer variants in circulation and their public health impact, was also attended by Dr Vinod Paul, Member, NITI Aayog; Rajiv Gauba, Cabinet Secretary; Amit Khare, Advisor PMO; Rajiv Bahl, DG, ICMR; Rajesh S Gokhale, Secretary, Biotechnology; and Punya Salila Srivastava, Additional Secretary to PM.

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