Omicron threat: Admn reopens 500-bed DRDO hospital in Jammu

Omicron threat: Admn reopens 500-bed DRDO hospital in Jammu
© Provided by Hindustan Times The Jammu and Kashmir administration has also directed to conduct universal RTPCR testing of foreign travellers besides mandatory quarantine and genome sequencing of samples of patients who test positive. (File Photo (ANI))

The J&K health authorities have reopened 500-bed DRDO hospital at Bhagwati Nagar in Jammu to deal with any contingency arising due to the new Covid variant Omicron.

“The hospital has been made operational as a precautionary measure. More staff will be sought as per requirement,” said a health official.

The administration has also directed to conduct universal RTPCR testing of foreign travellers besides mandatory quarantine and genome sequencing of samples of patients who test positive.

Chief secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta said, “We are fully prepared to deal with any contingency. We never had any problem of beds or oxygen shortage. We will handle this situation as well.”

Amid the threat of new variant, Dr Mehta also chaired a meeting of the Covid task force to review the public health response.

He has asked the divisional and district administrations to ensure universal testing of all foreign travellers to Jammu and Kashmir in the light of the emergence of new Covid variant Omicron.

He underscored the need to adhere to the laid down guidelines and test all the incoming foreign travellers through international flights.

As per the guidelines, the travellers testing negative will be sent for home quarantine of seven days and retested on the eighth day, whereas, the Covid positive patients will be sent to institutional quarantine centres for 15 days and their samples will be sent for genome sequencing at ICMR-designated testing laboratories.

It was emphasised that de-boarding from international flights must comply with the Covid appropriate behaviour and set protocols and a special Covid helpdesk is forthwith established at the Srinagar airport.

Secretary, disaster management, has also been directed to monitor the situation and submit a daily report for timely intervention of the agency concerned.

The health department has been stressed upon to establish genome sequencing facilities at government medical colleges in Srinagar and Jammu to fast-track the detection of Omicron variant and other mutations.

Moreover, district administrations of Budgam and Srinagar were asked to establish government quarantine centres and further explore arrangements for paid quarantine facilities for institutional quarantine to deal with any emergent situation.

The health and medical education department was asked to conduct equipment audit to establish functionality of Covid-related infrastructure, including dedicated hospitals, ventilators, oxygen supported beds, and oxygen plants.

The department was directed to ensure readiness of manpower and machinery to cater to a peak caseload of at least 7,500 patients per day and firm up the inventory of oxygen supply and medicines.

Deputy commissioners were instructed to enhance testing rate and contact tracing for positive patients to trace infection trajectory and establish micro-containment zones at an early stage.

Additionally, they were directed to reduce the daily reported cases through strict enforcement of Covid-apt behaviour, SoPs and protocols, and micro-containment zones.

Additional chief secretary Vivek Bhardwaj said, “We have already instituted strict surveillance systems at the airports and other entry points including Lakhanpur—the gateway to J&K.”

“RTPCR test has been made mandatory for all foreign travellers coming to J&K. Besides, we have also identified places for institutional quarantine and all incoming passengers with a history of travel to affected countries would be put under surveillance,” he added.

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