COVID-19 horror stories leaking out of China and new cases reported from the US have prompted the centre to be prepared for any situation. The Health Ministry has written to all states to increase genome sequencing of positive cases to track coronavirus variants through the INSACOG network.
"ln view of the sudden spurt of cases being witnessed in Japan, United States of America, Republic of Korea, Brazil and China, it is essential to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through...INSACOG network," Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in the letter to all states.
"Such an exercise will enable timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country and will facilitate undertaking of requisite public health measures for the same," Mr Bhushan said.
The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium, or INSACOG, is a consortium of over 50 laboratories to monitor genomic variations in the COVID-19 virus. Genome sequencing is a technique used to identify and understand the characteristics of new virus strains.
The centre said sample of all positive cases should be sent every day to INSACOG genome sequencing labs mapped with all states and Union Territories.
Some 35 lakh Covid cases continue to be reported every week globally, the centre said. India recorded 112 new Covid cases this morning; active cases fell to 3,490, according to Health Ministry data.
Crematoriums across China are straining to deal with an influx of bodies as the country battles a wave of Covid cases that authorities have said is impossible to track, news agency AFP reported.
Cases are soaring across China, with hospitals struggling and pharmacy shelves stripped bare in the wake of the government's sudden decision to lift years of lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing.
The United States has warned the outbreak is now of concern to the rest of the world, given the potential for further mutations and the size of China's economy.
In China's capital Beijing, local authorities on Tuesday reported just five deaths from Covid, up from two the previous day, AFP reported.
Beijing health officials said only those who had directly died of respiratory failure caused by the virus would be counted under Covid death statistics.
"At present after being infected with the Omicron variant, the main cause of death remains underlying diseases," Wang Guiqiang of Peking University First Hospital told reporters.
The US State Department said the surge was now a matter of international concern. "We know that any time the virus is spreading, that it is in the wild, that it has the potential to mutate and to pose a threat to people everywhere," State Department spokesman Ned Price said. "The toll of the virus is of concern to the rest of the world given the size of China's GDP [gross domestic product], given the size of China's economy," he added.
With inputs from AFP