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Govt extends guidelines on Covid-19 surveillance till 31 Jan, warns about new virus strain

The Central government on Monday officially extended the existing Coronavirus guidelines till 31 January 2021 as well as passed guidelines to be strictly followed and monitored during this period amid concerns of the Mutant Coronavirus strain which happens to be a highly infectious Covid-19 strain in the UK.

While there has been a continuous decline in the active and new COVID-19 cases, there is need to maintain surveillance, containment and caution, keeping in view the surge in cases globally, and the emergence of a new variant of the virus in the United Kingdom (UK),” the Ministry of Home Affairs stated.

“The extended guidelines will continue to be demarcated carefully in the Containment Zones. Appropriate Covid behavior and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) prescribed in respect of various permitted activities shall be promoted and strictly enforced,” the Ministry said.

Meanwhile, the government is deciding about beginning the massive Covid-19 vaccination drive in the next few weeks by the start of 2021. About that, a two-day dry run to check the preparedness of health authorities for a future nationwide COVID-19 vaccination program began on Monday in four states

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The exercise will include necessary data entry in Co-WIN, an online platform for monitoring of vaccine delivery, testing receipt and allocation, deployment of team members, mock drill of session sites with test beneficiaries, a well as reporting and evening meeting, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday. It will also include testing of cold storage and transportation arrangements for COVID-19 vaccine, management of crowd at session sites with proper physical distancing, the ministry said.

Currently, three COVID-19 vaccine candidates of Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute of India, and Pfizer are under active consideration of India’s drug regulator and there is hope that early licensure is possible for all or any of them, according to the Union health ministry.

Furthermore, the MHA stated, “The focused approach on surveillance, containment and strict observance of the guidelines/ SOPs issued by MHA and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW), as envisaged in the Guidelines issued on 25.11.2020; need to be enforced strictly by States and UTs.”