Don’t unlock in a hurry, expert panel tells Govt.
Coronavirus Update, News

Don’t unlock in a hurry, expert panel tells Govt.

June 28, 2021

‘Epidemiological investigation, contact tracing, genome sequencing need of the hour’

Bengaluru: Anticipating a further surge in the number of COVID Delta Plus cases in the coming days, the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has recommended a slew of measures to be taken immediately. It has also advised the Government not to hurry with relaxing the norms. 

However, the State Government has not yet accepted the recommendations. Experts also said that there is no need to panic — but caution is necessary — and stressed on conducting adequate research into the variant. The TAC, which held a meeting on Saturday to discuss measures to contain Delta Plus, released its recommendations yesterday. 

It said that the authorities must take immediate containment measures, prevent crowds, conduct widespread testing and increase vaccine coverage on priority in districts where the variant has been detected. Incidentally, Mysuru reported the first Delta Plus variant in Karnataka and also at present, there are three patients who are undergoing treatment. 

Though the District Administration has clarified that there is no threat from the Delta Plus variant as the lone case was detected in May end, the underlying threat is evident as even Union Health Ministry has alerted about the Delta Plus variant in Mysuru and has also called for containment measures, widespread testing, prompt tracing as well as vaccine coverage on a priority basis.

Epidemiological investigation 

“After confirmation of the Delta Plus variant, a detailed epidemiological investigation shall be done by the district Rapid Response Team (RRT) under District Surveillance Officer (DSO) and the reports should be shared with the Deputy Commissioner, District Expert Committee and State COVID War Room,” the TAC suggested.

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“It takes one to two weeks to genome sequence the samples and as such, the district Rapid Response Team has to investigate the clinical status of COVID-positive person, whether he/she is admitted, under home isolation, recovered or died, etc. Also, they should find out if a COVID-negative test is warranted for such people after 14 days of recovery,” said the TAC. The RRT teams must also verify whether all contacts of the person tested positive for the variant were identified and tested on day 0 to day 7. 

Checks at borders, contact tracing

Neighbouring States — Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu — have reported over 50 cases of Delta Plus. These are not the total number of the Delta variants in these States but those found in the sequencing conducted. So, this is a matter of concern, the TAC observed asking the Government to heighten vigil at the borders, including contact tracing.  “Contact tracing should be done and RT-PCR conducted on all such patients’ contacts and if tested positive, their samples too should be genome-sequenced. The TAC underlined the need for micro-planning and making reporting formats stringent at the State-level and then sharing it with districts for regular reporting.

An active Influenza-like illness (ILI) survey in the community — an entire village in rural areas and around 100-metre radius in urban areas — should be done urgently and all ILI cases should be tested with RT-PCR. “The State must step up epidemiological investigation of cluster cases along with concurrent genomic sequencing,”  the TAC has recommended. 

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‘Do not allow large gatherings’

“The Government must postpone any decision to allow large gatherings. In the earlier waves, we have noticed that the surge in Karnataka has always occurred 2-4 weeks after the spurt in Maharashtra, Kerala and Delhi. Genome sequencing should be increased from 5 percent of samples to at least 20 percent to detect Variants of Concern (VOCs) early. Testing should be made mandatory for those coming in from neighbouring States.” — Dr. C.N. Manjunath, Director, Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases

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