The Chief Secretary, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta today chaired a meeting of the COVID Task Force to review the public health response to COVID-19 and asked the divisional and district administrations to ensure universal testing of all foreign travellers to Jammu and Kashmir in the light of the emergence of new COVID variant Omicron.Administrative Secretaries of Finance, Health & Medical Education, Home, Disaster Management, Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, besides Divisional Commissioners Kashmir/ Jammu, Deputy Commissioner of Anantnag, Srinagar, Kathua, Jammu, Udhampur, Reasi and Budgam, along with MD, National Health Mission, Director, Family Welfare, and other concerned officers participated in the meeting.It was informed that the Central Government has issued guidelines for detecting cases of COVID variant Omicron from countries declared at risk.The Chief Secretary underscored the need to adhere to the laid down guidelines and test all the incoming foreign travellers through international flights. As per the guidelines, the negative travellers will be sent for home quarantine of 7 days and re-tested on the 8th day, whereas, the COVID positive patients will be sent to institutional quarantine centres for 15 days and their samples will be sent for genome sequencing at ICMR designated testing laboratories.
It was emphasized that de-boarding from international flights must comply with the COVID appropriate behaviour (CAB) and set protocols and a special COVID helpdesk is forthwith established at the Srinagar airport. Besides, Secretary, Disaster Management was asked to monitor the situation and submit a daily report for timely intervention of the concerned agency.The Chief Secretary impressed upon the Health Department to establish genome sequencing facilities at Government Medical Colleges, Srinagar and Jammu to fast-track the detection of Omicron variant and other mutations.Moreover, district administrations of Budgam and Srinagar were asked to establish government quarantine centres and further explore arrangements for paid quarantine facilities for institutional quarantine to deal with any emergent situation.The Health and Medical Education Department was asked to conduct equipment audit to establish functionality of COVID related infrastructure including COVID dedicated hospitals, ventilators, Oxygen supported beds, and Oxygen plants. The Department was directed to ensure readiness of manpower and machinery to cater to a peak caseload of at least 7500 patients per day and firm up the inventory of oxygen supply and medicines.Further, the Chief Secretary directed the Deputy Commissioners to enhance testing rate and contact tracing for positive patients to trace infection trajectory and establish micro-containment zones at an early stage. Additionally, the Deputy Commissioners were directed to reduce the daily reported cases through strict enforcement of CAB, COVID SOPs and protocols, and micro-containment zones.