The Delhi Disaster Management Authority met amidst growing concerns surrounding the emergence of the new variant of Coronavirus, the Omicron, even as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had written to the Prime Minister asking for a flight ban from ‘at risk’ countries.
Chaired by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and attended by Kejriwal, the DDMA has decided on 100% RTPCR testing of passengers from ‘high risk’ countries, genome sequencing of positive cases and mandatory isolation and quarantine as per the guidelines laid down by the Government of India. On the question of banning flights from ‘at risk’ countries, Delhi Dy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that all precautions are being taken and the Government of India will take a decision on that.
Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev has also been asked to put in place a mechanism for close contact and coordination with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and other concerned departments to ensure concurrent or real-time evaluation and quick decisions.
Sisodia said, “There was discussion on the new variant, across the world its spread is uncertain, the impact is uncertain. The central government’s experts appraised the DDMA with all the information about the new variant until now and they said that they and the governments are keeping a watch.”
Sisodia also said that there should not be any let-up in preparedness regardless of whether the new variant proves to be deadly or not, whether vaccines have an impact or not as all these things would be clear only in the coming days. Elaborating further on his government’s preparations, Sisodia said that in any case, the Delhi government was preparing to deal with an uptick in cases following the experience in April, May and June. Extra beds had been prepared in the Ramlila maidan and Dilshad Garden mong other places and while some of these have been used to treat the outbreak of Dengue in the capital, they will be converted to treat Covid cases. He also said that the government was prepared to take any more steps, if necessary.
In the wake of fresh concerns, the DDMA reviewed testing and containment measures, preparedness of health infrastructure, vaccination, the status of genome sequencing and enforcement of Covid-appropriate behaviour.
In a statement, the Lieutenant Governor’s office said that it was decided to ‘renew and strictly adhere’ to the ‘test-track-treat and isolate’ strategy. Emphasis was placed on enforcing Covid appropriate behaviour and stepping up the vaccination of the remaining citizens.
The meeting was also attended by Health Minister Satyendar Jain, Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot, Niti Ayog Member Dr VK Paul, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria, Dr Samiran Panda of ICMR and the Civil Aviation secretary.