New Delhi: In view of a sudden spurt in Covid cases in China and some other parts of the world, the Union Health Minister on Wednesday reviewed the situation in the country and advised people to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, including wearing masks in crowded places.

During the meeting, attended by experts and senior officials, the minister was briefed on the global Covid-19 situation and the domestic scenario, including the preparedness of all stakeholders.

Though the Covid situation in India is under control and even cases are declining, a consistent rise in global daily average cases has been reported for the last six weeks, with 5.9 lakh daily average cases reported in the week ending December 19, 2022.

A new and highly transmissible BF.7 strain of the Omicron variant is behind a wider surge of Covid infections in China, the statement said.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that the health department is fully prepared to manage any situation.

Underlining the challenge posed by the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in some countries across the world, Mandaviya directed to remain alert and asked for strengthening of the surveillance system for whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network to ensure the timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country.

This would facilitate the undertaking of appropriate public health measures. States/UTs have been requested to send samples of all Covid-19 positive cases to Insacog Genome Sequencing Laboratories (IGSLs) on a daily basis, for sequencing, to track new variants, if any, a health ministry statement said.

The Union Health Ministry has already issued “Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in context of Covid-19” in June 2022 which calls for early detection, isolation, testing and timely management of suspected and confirmed cases to detect and contain outbreaks of new SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Mandaviya directed officials to ensure effective implementation of the same.