Although the new omicron variant of the novel coronavirus has sparked global concern with a constellation of mutations that may evade antibodies, health officials in the Northeast are preparing on the latest standards for incoming travelers to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

On November 26, the World Health Organization classified B.1.1.529 as a “variant of concern” and named it omicron, based on evidence that the variant contains many mutations that can alter the way the virus behaves. There is no clarity, however, about the severity of the variant, its transmissibility and the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines. Scientists around the world are brainstorming to get more details about the omicron.

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Anurag Goel, chief secretary of the Assam Department of Health, told News18, “Yes, we are aware of the new omicron variant and are fully prepared to deal with the situation. Yesterday (Wednesday), we had a video meeting with officials from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and biologists The minute, where we discussed ways to deal with the epidemic given the new alternative.”

Joel added, “We do not have direct international flights, in which case, any passenger bound for Assam from countries (where omicron has been reported) will not be able to board flights connected to the country unless their RT-PCR test report is negative. In coordination with the immigration and provincial control teams to obtain the data of foreign travelers. We advise them to self-isolate, these passengers will be tested again in Assam on the eighth day after the negative test, upon arrival at any international airport in India. If found positive, they will be sent their sample for genome sequencing to ascertain whether the infection was caused by the new variant.

Speaking more about the omicron genome sequencing test, he said, “Currently, we have a testing facility in Kalyani and Pune, but we have been informed that ICMR will soon provide us with a genome sequencing test kit in Dibrugarh. Then it will be easier for us to test such international releases. In Assam itself. The kit was designed by ICMR, but it is undergoing some correction. We hope to have the corrected kit soon.”

On November 29, Assam reported six deaths from Covid-19 and 140 positive infections, bringing the total number of reported cases to 616,708 in the state.

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Unlike Assam, Mizoram has decided to go into mandatory 14-day quarantine for international travelers/travelers. On Tuesday, Mizoram’s Covid-19 convening officer, Dr Bachuaw Malsawma, held a meeting with the union health minister through video conferences, and at the meeting, it was decided to intensify health-related preparations in the state to contain and control the virus. alternative.

Dr. Lalmasuma told News18, “We are in the process of drafting new standard operating procedures and we have fully exempted fully vaccinated domestic travelers from quarantine, but for international travelers, we have decided to make a 14-day quarantine mandatory along with testing. If anyone is found Positive, it will be quarantined by the state health department for further observation. Overall, the situation in our state is under control. I would urge all people in Mizoram to follow safety standards to defeat this virus and its variants from spreading further.”

Manipur, too, is coming up with a detailed plan as per the suggestions made by the union health ministry. On Tuesday, union health minister Rajesh Bhushan held a review meeting with states and UTs and advised them to ramp up testing to identify and treat cases early.

Vomulunmang, Principal Secretary for Health and Family Welfare, Manipur, said, “We have had a meeting with the union health secretary and will step up our preparation as per the center’s protocols. We will make sure that the new variant does not survive the RT-PCR and RAT (rapid antigen) tests.” A state control officer was requested Being on hand with what to do and what to avoid while dealing with the new changing cases. Regular monitoring to trace and contain the virus will be increased. Particular focus will be placed on hospital infrastructure to deal with any kind of crisis.”

In the past 24 hours, 17 people, including eight women, tested positive for Covid in Manipur. The state also recorded four deaths.

Read also | With the universally latent Omicron Variant, Is India’s battle ready for a third wave?

Amid concerns, some good news came from Arunachal Pradesh as it did not report any new case of Covid-19 on November 29. On call, State Control Officer Dr. Lobsang Gamba said, “The situation in our state is under control. Yesterday, there were no new cases. So far, the Covid-19 death toll in the state has remained unchanged at 280. We have not recorded any new deaths in the 24 last hour.”

On omicron’s concerns, he said, “We are following standard standard operating procedures as given to us by the union health ministry. We have formed a task force to deal with the situation. All international publications will be screened and asked to self-isolate. All positive samples for genome sequencing will be sent to INSACOG laboratories. Done We were also advised to do contact tracing for those who tested positive and follow up for 14 days. I would say there is nothing to panic. We just have to follow the safety guidelines.”

Since most northeastern states do not have international flights, health officials have been asked to keep up with regular contacts with immigration, airport health officials, public health officials as well as other relevant authorities to ensure the smooth implementation of the new guidelines for international travelers.

Read also | Omicron: Vaccines may work in part against a new variant, former ICMR scientist Dr. Gangakhedkar says

Dr Deep Kumar Diparma, Program Officer, Integrated Disease Surveillance Program and Joint Director (PLAN), Tripura, said, “We have a detailed plan to deal with the situation. Special focus will be given to international travelers via flights and borders. As they enter India, they are required to provide travel details for the duration of time. 14 days. Not only that, they also have to upload a negative RT-PCR test report on the Air Suvidha portal before the flight.”

He said, “Those who travel from ‘at-risk’ countries will have to undergo a Covid-19 test after arriving on the eighth day. There is no need to worry as we are prepared with strict measures to deal with the situation at the airport as well as in the country.”

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