Conduct random RTPCR of 2% international passengers: Centre writes to states, UTs

The union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Wednesday wrote to all states asking them to integrate Covid-19 surveillance into their routine surveillance activities and follow the revised guidelines for surveillance in three areas — incoming international travellers, sentinel sites such as hospital and laboratories, and within the community, along with wastewater sample collection.

In a letter to all state principal and health secretaries, the states have been asked to screen 2% of the international passengers coming to India at random and send all positive samples for genome sequencing. The letter also asked states and UTs to monitor sentinel sites, including reporting of all influenza-like illnesses to the integrated disease surveillance teams, with the district surveillance officer testing 5% of these cases through RT-PCR.

All cases of severe acute respiratory illnesses have to be monitored at district level hospitals and select tertiary care hospitals. This data will be shared by the state Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme teams on a fortnightly basis, as per the letter. The laboratories have all been asked to upload their data to the ICMR portal to help in surveillance. The states have been asked to do community-based surveillance to identify large outbreaks, unusual clinical presentation or mortality through media scanning and indicator-based surveillance through the routine reporting channels, the letter said.

“In addition, revised surveillance guidelines also call for sewage/ wastewater surveillance, which may provide early warnings on potential local surge of Covid-19,” the letter read.

Three-pronged strategy will be adopted for genome sequencing, which is currently done by a network of over 50 labs across the country.

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