Centre to send teams to 10 states with high Omicron cases, low vaccination

According to the order issued by the ministry yesterday, these states are Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Mizoram, Karnataka, Bihar, Jharkhand and Punjab. Also on the list are Punjab and Uttar Pradesh — both are due to hold elections in two months’ time.

This comes days after the Allahabad High Court already flagged the Omicron threat, asking the Election Commission and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider postponing polls by one or two months.

The Centre’s teams will be deployed for five days, during which time they will work with state health authorities on improving testing and surveillance and enforcing Covid-appropriate behaviour. They will also check on the progress of Covid vaccinations in each state, as well as review existing hospital infrastructure, including the availability of beds and medical oxygen.

Also on the teams’ checklist will be genome sequencing of samples to identify Omicron cases. “State-level Central teams will assess the situation, suggest remedial actions and submit a report every evening by 7 pm on the public health activities being undertaken…” the Health Ministry said in the order.

The states identified in Friday’s order include five with the highest active caseloads — Kerala (26,265), Maharashtra (12,108), Bengal (7,466), Karnataka (7,280) and Tamil Nadu (6,798). The states with relatively low active caseloads — Mizoram (1,498), Bihar (79) and Jharkhand (273) — instead have red flags over vaccination rates.

Maharashtra (108), Kerala (37), Karnataka (31) and Tamil Nadu (34) all have high Omicron caseloads. In addition, Bengal has three and UP two.

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