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Health Minister to Chair High-level Covid-19 Review Meeting on Friday Over Rising Cases


Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will on Friday chair a high-level review meeting with the core team of experts over increasing cases of COVID-19 in the country, official sources said. India has been witnessing an increase in coronavirus infections over the last couple of weeks.

As on date, 10 states — Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal and Gujarat — have over 1,000 active cases. The core team of experts will include AIIMS director Dr Randip Guleria, ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargava and NCDC director Sujeet Singh.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary of Department of Biotechnology Rajesh S Gokhale, Secretary in the Department of Pharmaceuticals S Aparna, among others, will also attend the meeting. In a review meeting of INSACOG held last week, states/UTs were asked to submit “larger number” of samples for whole genome sequencing from districts and areas which had seen a surge in COVID-19 cases over a period of seven days.

The direction was issued to check the possibility of any new emerging variant or sub-variant and ascertain the reasons behind the breakthrough infections. According to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) experts, Omicron and its sublineages, primarily BA. 2 and BA.2.38, as of now, seem to be behind the current rise in Covid cases, an official source said.

The BA.2 and its sublineages constitute over 85 per cent of the cases with BA.2.38 being found in around 33 per cent of the samples. The percentage of BA.4 and BA.5 is found in less than 10 per cent samples, the source said.

“The last review meeting stated that there is no variant of concern in the country as of now. India now has BA.4 and BA.5 in addition to BA.2 which have slightly higher transmissibility as compared to other Omicron sublineages,” the official said. Forty-three districts in India, including 11 from Kerala, six from Mizoram and five from Maharashtra, are reporting a weekly Covid positivity rate of more than 10 per cent. In 42 districts, including eight from Rajasthan, five from Delhi and four from Tamil Nadu, the weekly positivity is between 5 and 10 per cent, sources said.

A total of 12,249 new coronavirus infections were reported in a day, taking India’s infection tally to 4,33,31,645, while the active cases have increased to 81,687, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Wednesday. The death toll has climbed to 5,24,903 with 13 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am stated.

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