Covid-19: Centre Issues Advisory Amid Sudden Surge; Singapore Imposes Fresh Rules After Recording 56,000 Cases

Amid sudden surge in Covid-19 cases in country, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has urged the states to ensure effective compliance of the detailed operational guidelines for revised surveillance strategy.

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In light of the sudden unexpected surge in Covid-19 cases in country alongside detection of the new subvariant  JN.1, the Centre on Monday directed states and union territories to stay alert. On December 8, India detected the first case of JN.1 in Kerala.

Kerala reported 115 fresh COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours taking the total active cases of the virus in the state to 1,749, according to Union Health Ministry data.

In a letter to states and union territories, Union Health Secretary Sudhansh Pant underlined that "due to consistent and collaborative actions between the Centre and state governments, we have been able to sustain the (Covid-19 ) trajectory at sustainable low rates".

"However, as the Covid-19 virus continues to circulate and its epidemiology behaviour gets settled with Indian weather conditions and circulation of other usual pathogens, it is important to keep the momentum going to effectively deal with the challenges in public health," he said.

About the advisory

States have been urged to ensure effective compliance of the detailed operational guidelines for revised surveillance strategy for Covid-19 as has been shared by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

They have asked to monitor and report district-wise cases of Influenza-like Illness (ILI) and Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) in all health facilities regularly for early detection of rising trend of cases.

States were also advised to ensure adequate testing in all districts as per Covid-19 testing guidelines and maintain the recommended share of RT-PCR and antigen tests. 

The advisory also stressed on the need to increase the number of RT-PCR tests and send positive samples for genome sequencing to Indian SARS COV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) laboratories to enable timely detection of new variants, if any, in the country.

The states were asked to promote community awareness to seek people's continued support in managing COVID-19, including adherence to respiratory hygiene.

Advisory given in Karnataka

Karnataka government on Tuesday issued an advisory asking people above 60 years, those with comorbidities, pregnant women, and lactating mothers to wear face masks when outdoors. They are also advised to strictly avoid visiting closed, poorly ventilated spaces, and crowded areas, given the current Covid-19 situation in the country and the detection of JN.1 sub variant in neighbouring Kerala.

"All elderly (60 years and above), comorbid (particularly with kidney, heart, liver ailments, etc.), pregnant women and lactating mothers, when outdoor, shall wear face masks, and strictly avoid visiting closed, poorly ventilated spaces and crowded areas," the advisory issued by Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare Services, Randeep D said.

Advisory given in Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mohan Yadav stated that his government has adopted the guidelines issued by the Centre in response to a new variant of COVID-19. This comes as some states experience an increase in viral infection cases.

On Monday night, Yadav visited Hamidia Hospital, Bhopal's largest state government hospital, to assess the arrangements. "The health department is working efficiently to address COVID-19 and all other diseases," Yadav told reporters after the visit. "We have implemented guidelines issued by the Centre regarding a new variant of COVID-19 in the entire state," he added.

Singapore issues fresh set of guidelines

In a fresh surge, Singapore recorded 56,000 more cases in a week, leading the Health Ministry to issue an advisory for citizens and travellers. According to the ministry, 56,043 cases cases were recorded in the week of December 3 to 9 2023.

In a bid to tackle the situation, the government of Singapore has issued a fresh set of guidelines for travellers and citizens.

It has been reported that the Ministry of Health (MOH) is collaboarting with public hospitals to develop safety plans in response to the current situation. Moreover, they are also set to inaugurate a new Covid-19 Treatment Facility (CTF) at Singapore EXPO Hall 10 that will cater to over 80 stable Covid-19 patients who do not require intensive hospital attention.

Travellers have been requested to take preventive measures, including mask-wearing at airports, acquiring travel insurance, and steering clear of poorly ventilated and crowded spaces. 

China, US seeing surge as well

In last one month, the Chinese mainland has detected seven mild and asymptomatic cases of contracting the Covid-19 subvariant JN.1 with at least 40 other countries reporting the subvariant, as of December 10.

The experts reportedly expected more cases of the JN.1 variant are expected as the virus has no boundary. But it has been told that the new subvariant was not a cause of concern of the public.

Besies China, secenteen states of the United States have reported “high” or “very high” levels of respiratory illness activity as Covid-19 and other flu hospitalizations increased, as per media reports.

In the fourth consecutive week (ending December 9), Covid-19 hospitalizations rose to 23,432, according to data updated last Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).