Delhi, Mumbai to Hold Meet Today, Kerala, Uttarakhand Among States on Toes; ‘BF.7’, Behind China Boom, Found in India

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meeting today, his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan has advised residents not to ignore fever, cold and sore throat, and not to be in close contact with people who have symptoms of Covid-19. Maharashtra government has announced the formation of a task force or a special committee to monitor the changing virus situation in the state. Additionally, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will hold a meeting today (December 22) to review the preparedness in Mumbai.

The Uttarakhand government is preparing to issue a fresh standard operating procedure on Covid-19 based on the Centre’s guidelines, while Gujarat Health Minister Rushikesh Patel on Wednesday asked officials to conduct “compulsory” testing of travellers arriving in the state from other countries.

The recent scare has been triggered exactly three years after the world first heard of the outbreak of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, and it all began from China, which once again is grappling with an inexplicable surge. Reports in 2019 traced the outbreak back to a massive market that sold live animals in Wuhan. The report suggested that Covid spilled over from animals — possibly those sold at the market — to humans in November or December 2019. Another study suggested that Covid-19 originated “in the Wuhan lab”. The lab leak theory states that SARS-CoV-2 emerged in China‘s Wuhan with a laboratory that works on bat coronaviruses.

This time BF.7, a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.5, is behind the surge in China. According to news agency PTI, BF.7 has the strongest infection ability since it is highly transmissible, has a shorter incubation period, and has a higher capacity to cause reinfection or infect even those vaccinated.

In India, two cases of BF.7 variant have been detected in Gujarat so far, and two in Odisha. It has also been detected in several other countries, including the US and UK and European nations such as Belgium, Germany, France and Denmark.

In an exclusive interview with News18, Dr Randeep Guleria, Ex-AIIMS Director, said that Covid is not over. “People need to get themselves tested. Need aggressive surveillance. Currently vaccines are protecting our population from severe illness. People should get booster dose,” he added.

The central government held an emergency Covid review meet on Wednesday, and advised people to wear masks in crowded places and get precaution doses. It, however, asked citizens not to panic — a suggestion repeated by Adar Poonawalla of vaccine maker Serum Institute of India (SII).

After a review meeting on Wednesday, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted, “COVID is not over yet. I have directed all concerned to be alert and strengthen surveillance. We are prepared to manage any situation.”

The Union government has also asked states to send samples to labs for genome sequencing, which can help identify the variant or sub-variant. India reported 129 fresh infections over the last 24 hours, as reported on Wednesday, and the number of active cases currently stands at 3,408. One death was recorded over the last 24 hours.

In 2019, Kerala confirmed India’s first case of novel coronavirus in Thrissur district. The patient was a student studying in China’s Wuhan University, who had returned to India. The virus soon spread to the entire country, with the second wave of the Covid pandemic wreaking havoc across India as the death toll increased exponentially and spike in infections burdened the healthcare infrastructure in the country.

A United Nations report said that the deadly wave of Delta variant stole 240,000 lives in India between April and June in 2021 and disrupted economic recovery.

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