District Collectors in Tamil Nadu told to be on guard against Omicron

Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan on Saturday wrote to all Collectors, senior health officials, airport directors and heads of all departments, expressing concern over the widespread lack of COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and warning against the “extremely” infectious Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

He highlighted, in particular, the lack of enforcement of COVID-19 appropriate behaviour at many hospitals and medical colleges.

He said that at many places, faculty and staff members, students and predominantly visitors neither wore masks nor followed social distancing. Implementation of the perimeter control and demarcation of COVID-19 suspect wards were ineffective at a few places.

His observations came against the backdrop of a cluster of 54 cases that were identified after a few persons tested positive at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital.

He said that preliminary data based on contact-tracing showed that the spread among close contacts and in closed and unventilated rooms was extremely high in the case of the Omicron variant.

Since persons infected with the Omicron variant largely remained mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic, there was a high risk of their unknowingly spreading it to a large number of people.

Though patients infected with the Omicron variant so far largely seemed to remain clinically stable, the validation of clinical progress would take more time, while in the meanwhile high transmissibility might lead to an increased caseload. “We cannot and should not let down our guard,” he said.

He said that containing the spread of the Omicron and other variants that were in circulation was impossible unless COVID-19 appropriate behaviour was adhered to. Dr. Radhakrishnan asked the officials to ensure stringent implementation of the standard operating procedures for social distancing, testing and contact-tracing.

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