Friday 8 April 2022 7:32 AM UTC
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM April 8: Following Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issuing advisory to all states and union territories, the Kerala government has issued an order on Thursday withdrawing all COVID containment measures imposed under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
Though the police will not be able to slap penalties for Covid violations, the order states that Covid appropriate behaviour, like the wearing of masks and hand hygiene, should be observed.
The restrictions have been in place for over two years, since March 20, 2020. After that, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued a series of revised and more rigorous containment guidelines in accordance with the changing nature of the pandemic.
Ajay Bhalla, in his advisory to the states, had said that in the last 24 months significant capacities had been developed for various aspects of management of the pandemic, such as diagnostics, surveillance, contact tracing, treatment, vaccination and hospital infrastructure.
He also said that the general public now had a much higher level of awareness of COVID-appropriate behaviour. The steep fall in COVID cases across the country has motivated the lifting of restrictions.
However, on Thursday, Kerala reported 291 new COVID cases and 323 recoveries. With this, the number of active COVID cases in the state fell to 2,398. Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram and Kottayam districts reported the most cases – 73, 52 and 36 respectively.
Meanwhile, the Indian Health Ministry on Wednesday said that said present evidence does not suggest the presence of XE variant of COVID denying media reports that claimed that a case of the new mutant was reported in Mumbai.
“Hours after report of detection of XE variant of Coronavirus in Mumbai,@MoHFW_INDIA has said present evidence does not suggest the presence of the new variant,” PIB Maharashtra said in a tweet.
It referred to the Health Ministry clarification on the reported case of COVID XE Variant in Mumbai.
The Health Ministry said FastQ files in respect of the sample, which is being said to be #XEVariant were analysed in detail by genomic experts of INSACOG who have inferred that the genomic constitution of this variant does not correlate with the genomic picture of ‘XE’ variant”.
The ministry said the individual who had tested positive for #XEVariant is a fully vaccinated 50-year-old woman with no comorbidity and asymptomatic.
“She had come from South Africa on February 10 and had no prior travel history. On arrival, she had tested negative for the virus,” it said.
Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation had said earlier in the day that one out of the 230 samples had tested positive for the XE variant in Mumbai under the COVID genome sequencing.
The World Health Organisation had recently said that a new COVID mutant ‘XE’ has been found in the UK and noted that it may be more transmissible than the BA.2 sublineage of COVID-19. However, the virologists in India have said that it is not clear that the variant is strong enough to cause another COVID wave in the country even as they advised to exercise caution and follow COVID-appropriate behaviour.
XE is recombinant of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 sublineages of COVID-19.
World Health Organisation’s chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan on Tuesday said new Covid-19 variants were unlikely to have a Delta-like impact in India in view of the country’s high vaccination rate, especially among the vulnerable population.
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