With India reporting a highly infectious novel COVID-19 variety, former Delhi AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria advised the general public on Wednesday to practise COVID-appropriate behaviour. “I would advise everyone to wear a mask if they are going out, especially in crowded settings,” he stated. High-risk populations, such as the elderly, should avoid going out since there is a high possibility of infection spreading, and some may contract a serious infection.”
“New varieties are expected, and this variety has a proclivity to mutate, which will continue, but the situation has changed; formerly, there was no vaccine, but people are now immunised as well.”
“However, this does not mean that people will cease taking measures; festival season is approaching, and cases are also on the rise,” he added.
According to Guleria, the likelihood of hospitalisation and ICU admission is low. “The likelihood of hospitalisation and ICU admission is low.” This time of year, there will be a minor infection, fever, cold, cough, and body soreness, with a probability of recovery in 3-4 days; often, viral fever is recorded owing to COVID as well.”
On Tuesday, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya convened a high-level conference with senior health officials to discuss the development of Omicron’s new sub-variants, which resulted in the decision to continue masks and COVID19-appropriate behaviour across the country.
The panel of scientists, medics, and senior government officials also advocated for more surveillance and genetic sequencing.
The health experts also recommended Eligible Population on Mission Mode to receive their COVID-19 prophylactic dose as soon as possible.
According to official sources, Niti Aayog member VK Paul, Chairperson of COVID-19 working group NTAGI NK Arora, NTAGI officials, NEGVAC officials, and other senior health authorities attended.
According to a state health department advisory issued earlier on Tuesday, Maharashtra saw a 17.7 percent increase in coronavirus cases compared to the previous week.
The state has reported additional Covid cases, including XBB, a new sub-variant of the Omicron version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus discovered in regions of India, including Kerala.
Apart from this, Maharashtra has reported cases from additional sub-variants of Omicron- BA.2.3.20 and BQ.1 variant, which was found for the first time in India on Monday from a patient’s sample in Pune.
XBB, a recombinant lineage between two Omicron sublineages BJ.1 and BA.2.75, is a rapidly spreading variation that has caused a surge in Singapore.
According to a Maharashtra Health Department assessment, the XBB has a growth edge over BA.2.75 and evasive immune qualities.
According to statistics, new COVID cases in the state are predicted to climb by 17.7 percent this week in the October 10-16 period, compared to the October 3-9.
According to the health department’s official release, this increase has been observed in Thane, Raigad, and Mumbai.
On October 17, India discovered the first case of Omicron’s BQ.1 subvariant in a patient sample from Pune. According to sources, the BQ.1 is a descendant of the BA.5, which is responsible for 60% of COVID cases in the United States (US).
Some health department experts projected an increase in the coming winter season, particularly in a festive setting. BA.2.75 was reduced from 95% to 76% in Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS).
The Maharashtra health department and specialists have advised people not to disregard flu-like symptoms and to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
They recommended following Covid Appropriate Behavior in Public Places and getting immunised in accordance with Government of India standards.
According to department experts, people with comorbidities should take extra precautions when entering public spaces. People suffering from influenza-like illnesses should limit their exposure to the public as much as possible.
The BF.7 has also been reported and validated in Gujarat by the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre.
BF.7 is a ‘Omicron spawn’ that was discovered in China and has now spread to the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Belgium.
Meanwhile, the Kerala government held a high-level conference on October 17 under the leadership of health minister Veena George, and stated that it is stepping up preventive measures in light of new genetic variations of COVID-19 (XBB and XBB1) being reported from other areas of the world.
“All districts have received the necessary directives. The new strain is more contagious than any other Covid-19 strain to date. As a result, resistance is strengthened. Approximately 1.8% of individuals affected may require hospitalisation. There is currently no cause for alarm. However, everyone should use caution. For self-protection, everyone should wear a mask appropriately. The elderly and those with co-morbidities must wear masks.
The minister requested that masks be used at the airport and in other restricted areas “Kerala’s health department stated.
Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, a Kerala Health Expert, stated, “Immune escape variations are what these are. Omicron has been emitting branches that divide into smaller branches since its arrival in November 2021. BA.2 and BA.5 performed better than the others.”
“A succession of sublineages appeared between BA.2 and BA.5. Each of these has additional alterations focused on the RBD or receptor binding domain of the virus’s spike protein. This is the area where the virus attaches to the human cell “He continued.
“With convergent evolution involving roughly 5 typically detected changes, the virus is now able to bypass the immune response to earlier versions, either through spontaneous infection or vaccination,” he said.
This is why they are referred to as immune evasive variations. BA.5.1.7 and BF.7 are names given to BA.5’s descendants.”
Dr. Rajeev went on to say that the pandemic isn’t over and that safeguards must still be taken.
“What we must realise is that the pandemic is not over,” he stated. There will be periodic regional surges, particularly around festivals and group meetings. Wearing masks indoors and preferring outdoor parties to indoor gatherings are both safe choices. Individuals who are vulnerable will require special protection.”