All Covid positive cases to be sent for genome sequencing, says Arvind Kejriwal

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Amid the Omicron scare and the growing number of coronavirus cases in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said all samples that test positive for the infection will now be sent for genome sequencing. He also urged the Centre to allow the administration of booster shots to the fully vaccinated city residents.

The chief minister appealed to people not to panic and wear masks as they are the most effective protection against the virus. “For the last few days, COVID-19 cases are increasing in the city. Yesterday (Sunday), it was over 100. We don’t know what type of Covid cases these are, normal or the Omicron variant. So, to ascertain this we have now decided to send the samples of all positive cases for genome sequencing,” Kejriwal said at a press conference.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) during which the Omicron situation, including its possible effects and steps to deal with it, was discussed, according to the chief minister. Delhi has reported 24 cases of the Omicron variant so far, according to sources.

Kejriwal appealed to the Centre to allow the administration of booster shots to those Delhi residents who have already received both doses of Covid vaccine. “About 99 per cent of our eligible population has received the first dose and about 70 per cent has been vaccinated with both doses.

“I request the central government to allow booster doses for all those who have been vaccinated with both doses. We have the infrastructure to administer booster doses. We can start with our healthcare workers and then vaccinate the rest of the population,” he said.

Kejriwal also said the home isolation system will be strengthened in Delhi as according to experts the Omicron variant only causes mild symptoms.

“We will strengthen the home isolation system as most cases will not require hospitalisation. There is no need to panic in view of the Omicron variant as we have made adequate arrangements in hospitals to deal with any outbreak,” he said.

He said the government has made adequate arrangements for hospital beds, oxygen, medicines and everything else that may be needed to combat the virus. “We will not let the people of Delhi face any difficulty in their treatment,” he added.

The chief minister held a meeting on November 30 to review preparations to tackle a possible third wave of coronavirus and the spread of the Omicron variant. It has been assessed that 30,000 Covid beds are ready in Delhi. The government will be able to arrange 100 beds per ward on a two-week notice, which will take the total bed capacity in Delhi to over 64,000, according to an official statement.

Additionally, 6,800 ICU beds will also be ready very soon. Medicine stocks are currently being added and home isolation arrangements are being strengthened, the government statement said. The Delhi government has issued a Covid helpline number — 1031 — to help patients with any problem. The helpline is operational 24×7. The call attendants work in three shifts and can attend 600 to 700 calls.

The government is also focusing on increasing manpower for Covid management to be prepared for a possible spread of the disease. This will include medical, nursing and paramedical students trained in oxygen therapy, Covid management and paediatric ward Covid management. A workforce of 5,000 health assistants has been readied for any future needs, the statement said.

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