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Covid data (India), August 30, 2022: Vaccinations of the Day: 20,28,640; Vaccination Day Before: 24,70,330; Total Vaccination Doses: 2,11,91,05,738; Samples Tested on August 28: 1,65,751; Total Samples Tested: 88,52,08,552; Total Cases: 4,44,15,723 (New 7,591 ); Total Deaths: 5,27,799 (New 45); Deaths (State-wise - New Deaths): Delhi: 4; Maharashtra: 5 - India Travel Times.Com   [Estd: 1998]       * * *    Travel, More Travel, Travel Means A Million Things     * * *    
India on alert as Omicron sweeps across China: Random testing at airports

A sub-lineage of Omicron variant BA.5, BF.7 was resistant to neutralisation in sera from triple-vaccinated healthcare workers in the UK. And its immune/vaccine-evasive characteristic is the worrying point. True, it has the strongest infection ability, but it is less fatal. It primarily affects the upper respiratory system with flu like symptoms. It becomes severe only in those with weak immunity.

Was the China report fabricated? In a couple of weeks casualties shooting up to 5,000 a day from zero due to BF.7! China says "no new deaths!"

NEW DELHI, Dec 23: India on Saturday begins random testing of samples of passengers arriving at the international airports in the country in order to detect if the new wave of Omicron BF.7 pandemic sweeping China and some other countries like Japan and the UK is entering the country through air travellers.

The random testing of two per cent of air passengers will be done flight-wise and the crew will make the random choice. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has said, "The airport operators would create necessary infrastructure to facilitate random testing of international arriving passengers at their respective airports."

Covid vaccination may be made mandatory for international passengers entering India from affected countries. Those with any symptoms on arrival will be quarantined. All samples testing positive will be sent for genome sequencing. The long-winding, unexplained queues of the last few weeks at the airports are over and the passengers currently are able to maintain social distancing.

India does not find it necessary to order anything mandatory for its citizens as of now. The country considers itself safe with over 90% of the people having been vaccinated fully and with all the infrastructure ready to meet any emergency situation. Besides, the four BF.7 cases detected in India a couple of months ago were treated successfully and the patiensts recovered fully.

Guidelines: Surveillance, Masking, Testing, Social Distancing, Genome- sequencing

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after holding high level discussions, has asked the States to strengthen the suveillance and urged the countrymen to mask up. He cautioned against complacency.

Especially in view of the festival season with Christmas and New Year round the corner, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has asked the State Governments to create awarenesss among the people about the new threat posed by the so-called BF.7 variant of Omicron coronavirus which, some reports claim, is killing around 5,000 people a day in China.

On Friday, the Health Minister directed the States to increase surveillance and testing and ensure copvid-appropriate behaviour. A mock drill for emergency response will be conducted in hospitals across the country on Tuesday.

The States were told to undertake wider samplig for genome sequencing to detect Omicron sub-variant BF.7 and other variants. The Minister told Parliament, "We are keeping an eye on the global covid situation and are taking steps accordingly. States are advised to increase genome- sequencing to timely identify the new variant of covid."

The States have also been asked to consider enforcing mask mandate, use of sanitisers and social distancing, among other things. An advisory is being prepared.

No restrictions as of now; States on high alert

Experts advise to ramp up testing and encourage booster doses. Because of the emergence new Omocron variant, bivalent vaccines are said to more effective. Prefer use of N-95 masks and not others like the cotton masks, they say.

Some of the States have already started taking preventive steps. Tamil Nadu has started insisting on social distancing in public gatherings and adequate bed arrangements have been made. UP calls for stepping up covid testing, booster dose and masking in crowded places as also genome sequencing of cases. Karnataka has made mask mandatory in crowded indoors. Kerala will conduct genome sequencing. There is no mask mandate in Delhi. West Bengal will not impose any new covid curbs. Maharashtra says masks are not mandatory but advisable.

Meanwhile, the IMA has advised citizens to avoid gatherings and international travel.

India logged 163 new coronavirus infections, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday. The death toll so far stands at 5,30,690 with nine new fatalities. Two deaths were reported from Maharashtra and one from Delhi in the last 24 hours - six of the nine fatalities being old data. The case tally was 4,46,76,678. India's test positivity rate (TPR ) in the week ending on December 22 was 0.14 per cent.

What happened in China?

In China the easing of covid curbs following widespread opposition and protests early this month led to the current surge in infection all over the country. As the infection went up alarmingly, there was rush for antigen kits and medicines for fevers and colds leading to shortages. There are no official figures of the casualties but there are reports that things have gone out of control.

A section of media has reported the casualties reaching an unbelievable figure of 5,000 a day from 0 a couple of weeks ago in China.

However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Friday that epidemic prevention and control situation in China is predictable and controllable. It has stepped up vaccination. And, China continued to report no new deaths on Thursday.

BF.7 more infective

BF.7 is a sub-lineage of the omicron variant BA.5. It has the strongest infection ability out of the omicron subvariants. Although the new covid has the proven ability of infecting three times more people in less time than Omicron (omicron has an average R0 of 5.08) with an RO factor of 18, meaning one infected person can transmit the virus to 18 others, BF.7 is widely believed to be less fatal although it is reported that the virus is playing havoc with the Chinese. BF.7 has a shorter incubation period. It can infect even those who had covid earlier and can also beat the vaccine.

It primarily affects the upper respiratory system. Patients may have a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose and fatigue, among other symptoms. Gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhoea occur rarely. It becomes severe in those with weak immunity. BF.7 was resistant to neutralisation in sera from triple-vaccinated healthcare workers in the UK. Its immune-evasive characteristic is a worrying point.

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