Medical staff take swab samples of passengers for a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test during a Covid-19 coronavirus screening upon his arrival at a railway platform in Mumbai. (Photo: AFP)
New Delhi: Amid a whopping spike in Covid-19 cases, the Union health ministry on Wednesday released revised guidelines for home isolation for mild and asymptomatic infections, saying such patients will stand discharged after at least seven days from testing positive and no fever for three successive days. Earlier, home isolation lasted 10 days from the onset of symptoms.
The health ministry advised people not to rush for self-medication, blood investigation or radiological imaging like chest X-rays or CT scans without consulting a doctor. There was no need for re-testing after the home isolation was over. Even the asymptomatic contacts of infected persons need not undergo Covid-19 tests and only monitor their health in home quarantine.
India, meanwhile, on Wednesday saw its first Covid-19 death linked to Omicron after the samples of a 73-year-old man in Rajasthan, who died last week, showed the presence of the new variant. The man, who was found infected with Omicron in genome sequencing and who had tested negative for the infection twice, died in a Udaipur hospital on December 31. He died due to post-Covid pneumonia along with co-morbidities – diabetes, hypertension and hypothyroidism. He was fully vaccinated and had no significant contact and travel history.
The government has also decided not to go for mix-and-match for the Covid-19 "precautionary" vaccine dose, which is to be administered to healthcare/frontline workers and senior citizens aged 60 and above with co-morbidities from January 10. This means those who have taken two doses of Covishield will get the same vaccine as their precautionary jab, and those who got two doses of Covaxin will get the same vaccine as well.
The need for the "precaution" dose was necessitated given the fast spread of Omicron. The government, which also started vaccinating children in the 15-18 age group, has given the first dose to 1.06 crore children in this age group over the past three days.
The health ministry home isolation guidelines specify that the treatment of every patient must be monitored individually as per his/her specific condition, and hence generic sharing of prescriptions should be avoided. It said the district administration, under the overall supervision of the state health authority, shall be responsible for monitoring patients under home isolation.
Those under home isolation have to be "clinically assigned as mild/ asymptomatic cases" by the treating medical officer. The patient’s family must be given a designated control room contact number to get guidance for testing, clinical management and assignment of a hospital bed if needed. The patients must have the requisite facility at their homes for self-isolation and for quarantining of family contacts.
The asymptomatic cases are laboratory-confirmed cases who are not experiencing any symptoms and have oxygen saturation at room air of more than 93 per cent. The clinically assigned mild cases are ones with upper respiratory tract symptoms with or without fever, without shortness of breath and having oxygen saturation at room air of more than 93 per cent.
The guidelines specified that elderly patients above 60 and those with co-morbid conditions like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung/liver/kidney disease or cerebrovascular disease shall be allowed home isolation only after proper evaluation by the medical officer. But patients suffering from immune compromised status (HIV, transplant recipients, cancer therapy) have not been recommended for home isolation.
India’s Omicron tally has gone up to over 2,300 in 24 states and UTs. Maharashtra has the maximum number of 797 cases, followed by Delhi, with 464. The health ministry data released at 8 am Wednesday showed India had registered a single-day rise of 58,097 new infections, the highest in around 199 days, taking the total tally of cases to 3,50,18,358. Active cases were recorded at above two lakhs after around 81 days. The Covid-19 death toll has risen to 4,82,551, with 534 new fatalities.
The Centre said the upsurge of Covid-19 cases is happening in cities and the Omicron variant is the predominant circulating strain. However, it said there was no need to panic, but one must be alert, disciplined and prepared, saying the country will face this phase of the pandemic.
There is a surge in Covid-19 globally, with 25.2 lakh cases recorded by January 4, the highest since the pandemic’s onset. India reported a rise of over 6.3 times in the last eight days. There has been a sharp rise in case positivity from 0.79 per cent on December 29 to 5.03 per cent on January 5. Six states/UTs now have over 10,000 active Covid-19 cases.
Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Gujarat are emerging as the states of concern due to the surge in Covid-19 cases. A total of 28 districts reported over 10 per cent weekly Covid-19 positivity, while 43 districts had a weekly positivity of five to 10 per cent.
Both Mumbai and Delhi have reported a very high number of Covid-19 cases since the Omicron variant started spreading. Mumbai logged as many as 15,166 Covid-19 cases, including 100-odd Omicron patients, and three deaths in the last 24 hours. This is Mumbai’s all-time-high daily rise in cases since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020.
Delhi health minister Satyendra Jain declared that the "third wave" has hit the national capital, with 10,665 fresh cases, a positivity rate of 11.9 per cent and eight deaths in 24 hours. Delhi’s daily death count has been the highest since June 16, 2021. The city had three fatalities on Tuesday and one each on January 3, 2 and 1.
The latest government data shows the number of patients in Delhi’s hospitals has increased from 247 on January 1 to 782 on January 5. The number of patients on oxygen support has risen from 94 to 140 in the last three days, and those on ventilator support has risen from four to 22.