The state of Uttar Pradesh has raised a COVID alert amid the rising concerns of a newly identified Botswana variant. As of now, no cases of this strain have been reported in the state in specific or the nation at large. However, this has moved the health authorities to amplify screening at all international bases, to prevent the infection invasion scenario.
In this direction, the UP Health Department has also increased testing of international travellers, especially for those coming from the affected regions of Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong.
COVID samples of international flyers to be sent for genome sequencing
Identified as Variant of Concern, strain B.1.1529 of coronavirus has multiple mutations, higher virulence and enhanced chances of transmissivity. Health officials have also warned that the new strain can also spur re-infection. An official note issued by the Additional Chief Secretary, health and family welfare recognises the possibility of the serious health impact it may pose for the country given the relaxed visa restrictions and international travel.
The Centre has labelled Botswana strain to be a significant threat to public health and advised all states, including Uttar Pradesh, to ensure rigorous screening of international travellers. All samples collected from foreign travellers and returnees will be sent for regular genome sequencing, added reports, to trace the pandemic virus.
UP Health Officials urge people to get vaccinated
Health Officials in Uttar Pradesh have highlighted the importance of COVID-19 prevention protocols, safety measures and even vaccination to bolster defence against the latest mutation. Reportedly, the authorities have urged people to get vaccinated at the earliest to ensure maximum security.
As per the vaccination coverage here, the state has crossed over the 30% mark and has lined up about 7,39,266 vaccinations on Saturday. In figures, UP has administered over 15,77,00,716 COVID jabs, including 10,98 crore first and 4.78 crore second doses.
Besides, the number of fresh cases have also dipped significantly here. In the last 24 hours, as many as 71 of the total 75 districts here did not even report a single fresh case. Furthering this, around 44 districts in the state are now COVID free, with zero active cases, informed officials.
The recovery trends has pressed the state's need to increase vigil against the new variant. The need to avert a crisis or spike again should be the state's primary agenda now and the alert is a step forward in this direction.