WHO urges strict implementation of COVID protocols amid Omicron spread
COVID vaccine maker Bharat Biotech has appealed to healthcare workers to be “highly vigilant and ensure that only Covaxin is administered to individuals in the 15-18 years age group”.
The appeal was issued late on Friday night and comes following reports of other COVID-19 vaccines being administered to this cohort.
Also Read: Covaxin safe for children, says Bharat Biotech
Currently only Covaxin is approved for the 15-18 age group. “Covaxin received approval based on clinical trial evaluation for safety and immunogenicity in the 2-18 years age group,” Bharat Biotech said in its announcement.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation on Saturday called for stringent implementation of public health and social measures as COVID-19 cases increased in most countries of southeast Asia, with some witnessing an exponential rise.
Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, WHO South-East Asia Region said all preventive and protective measures must be implemented with full earnestness by one and all.
Stating that authorities must implement situation specific measures to arrest further spread of the virus, she said people must adhere to these measures.
“Masks, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, ventilation, and physical distancing is an absolute must,” she said.
Other variants present
A release issued by the South-East Asia Region office said though Omicron variant may appear to be less severe, it should not be dismissed as ‘mild’. Emerging as the most predominant variant, this highly infectious variant is already overwhelming health systems around the world.
Also Read: Fewer adverse reactions seen among teenagers, says national advisory group
“Globally we are seeing hospitalisation and deaths from Omicron,” said Dr. Singh, adding that “we must also not forget that not every COVID-19 case is an Omicron infection. Other variants, including Delta, are also circulating, which, as we know, cause severe infections and deaths”.
“Each positive case of COVID-19 should hence be a cause of concern,” she noted.
She further said that to save lives, “we must prevent overburdening of our health systems. An overburdened health system would neither be able to save preventable deaths from COVID-19 nor would it be able to deliver essential services to save lives from other diseases for which people may need surgery and urgent critical care”.
“It’s time to do all we can, to arrest the current surge,” the regional director said.
Stating that we are aware that COVID-19 virus spreads mainly between people who are in close contact with each other, she added that the virus can also spread in poorly ventilated indoor settings or crowded settings.
“Often, people who are infectious do not always have symptoms or know that they are carrying the virus, so it is important to ensure good ventilation by opening windows and doors, if possible, when sharing an indoor space with other people… It is extremely important for people to wear well-fitting masks and avoid crowds and big gatherings, along with taking other measures,” she said.
Cautioning that even after being fully vaccinated, people must continue to take all preventive and protective measures Dr. Singh said scaling up COVID-19 vaccination coverage is another key preventive measure for COVID-19, and all efforts must continue to ensure that the high-risk population is protected at the earliest.
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