MHA issues fresh advisory for COVID management; asks states, UTs not to let guard down

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STATE TIMES NEWS

New Delhi: Amidst initial signs of surge in cases of COVID-19 as well as increased detection of Omicron variant in different parts of the country, the Centre on Monday issued a fresh advisory to all States and UTs to deal with the pandemic situation.
In the advisory, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said States and Union Territories may consider imposing need based, local curbs and restrictions, to control the crowd during the festive season.
Asking States and UTs not to let the guard down, he emphasised that there should be continued focus on the five-fold strategy – Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to Covid appropriate behaviour to avoid the possibility of surge in COVID-19 cases, especially keeping in view the new Variant of Concern (VOC).

CoWIN registration for 15-18 yr age group to start on Jan 1

New Delhi: Children aged between 15 and 18 years would be able to register on the CoWIN portal from January 1 and the vaccine option for them would only be Covaxin, officials said on Monday as preparations are underway to start inoculating children against COVID-19 from January 3.
“Children aged between 15 and 18 years would be able to register on the CoWIN portal from January 1,” CoWIN chief Dr RS Sharma said on Monday.
The vaccine option for those in the 15-18 age group would only be Covaxin, according to the “Guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination of children between 15-18 years and precaution dose to HCWs, FLWs and 60+ population with comorbidities” issued by the Union health ministry on Monday.
According to the guidelines, which will come into effect from January 3, those aged 15 and above will be able to register on CoWIN. In other words, “all those whose birth year is 2007” or before, shall be eligible.
An additional provision has been made on CoWIN through which students can register for vaccination on the portal using their student identity cards as some may not have Aadhaar or other ID cards, Sharma said.
The beneficiaries (aged 15-18 years) can register themselves online through an existing account on Co-WIN or by creating a new account through a unique mobile number. This facility is available for all eligible citizens presently.
Such beneficiaries can also be registered at the vaccination sites by the verifier or the vaccinator in the facilitated registration mode and appointments can be booked online or on-site (walk-in), the guidelines stated.
In a televised address to the nation on Saturday night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that vaccination against COVID-19 for children aged between 15 and 18 years will start from January 3, while a “precaution dose” for the healthcare and frontline workers would be administered from January 10 — decisions that came amid a rising number of coronavirus cases linked to its Omicron variant.
Modi said the precaution dose will also be available for citizens above 60 years of age and with comorbidities on the advice of their doctors from January 10.
Zydus Cadila’s anti-Covid vaccine ZyCoV-D is yet to be introduced in the country’s inoculation programme even for adults, though it received the Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) from the drug regulator on August 20, making it the first vaccine to be administered in the age group of 12-18 years in the country.
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted the EUA to indigenously-developed Covaxin for children above 12 years with certain conditions on Friday.

He asked the States and UTs to refer to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) order issued for ensuring implementation of the measures as conveyed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on December 21.
“The country has witnessed an overall decline in active cases. However, the new variant, Omicron is reported to be at least three times more transmissible than the Delta VOC, and is posing a new challenge for the Covid containment measures,” the communication said.
In the countries with Omicron-driven surge, the home secretary said, the growth trajectory of cases has been very steep and in our country, 578 Omicron cases have already been reported in 19 States and UTs so far. He said globally, Omicron cases have already been reported in 116 countries. Further, surge in cases is also being reported across various countries, especially in the US, the UK, Europe (France, Italy, Spain), Russia, South Africa, Vietnam, Australia, etc.
In the MoHFW advisory of December 21, Bhalla said a normative framework has been provided and with distinct presence of the Delta variant and detection of Omicron cases in many States, there is need for greater foresight, data analysis, dynamic decision making, and strict and prompt containment actions at the local and district levels, based on the assessment of the situation.
The home secretary said on December 23, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the status of COVID-19, Omicron VOC and preparedness of health systems across the country. After review, the prime minister has directed that everyone should maintain a high level of vigil and alertness.
After review, the prime minister has directed that everyone should maintain a high level of vigil and alertness. The state governments should ensure that the health systems in the States are strengthened to meet any challenge posed by the new variant, Bhalla said.
State governments and UT administrations should ensure that oxygen supply equipment are installed and are fully functional and the buffer stock of essential drugs maintained, he said.
“I would like to reiterate that all the States and UTs must observe all precautions, and not let the guard down. Local and district administration, based on the normative framework and assessment of the situation, should promptly take appropriate containment measures. States may consider imposing need based, local curbs and restrictions, to control the crowd during the festive season,” he said.
Bhalla said the State enforcement machinery should strictly enforce the norms of Covid appropriate behaviour. Bhalla said the State enforcement machinery should strictly enforce the norms of Covid appropriate behaviour.
With a view to discourage any misinformation in respect of the new VOC, which creates anxiety among the public, all States and UTs should proactively and regularly hold media briefings at the highest level to disseminate the right information to them,” he said.
The home secretary said States and UTs should also educate them about various preventive measures undertaken by them and also advise them to strictly follow Covid appropriate behaviour.
“I would, therefore, urge you to issue necessary directions to the districts and all other local authorities concerned, to take necessary measures for prompt and effective management of COVID-19, strict compliance with various advisories issued by the MoHFW on the new VOC and strict enforcement of Covid appropriate behaviour,” he said.