India All Set to Begin Two-day Dry Run of Covid-19 Vaccination Exercise Tomorrow in Four States

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India is all set to hold a two-day dry run from Monday in four states for its proposed ambitious vaccination drive likely to be kicked off in January.

The states continued to put into place several measures, including testing of people arriving from abroad in the wake of a new strain of the virus detected in the UK.

Meanwhile, the country registered the lowest single-day rise in COVID-19 cases in nearly six months at 18,732. Active caseload in the country also dipped to 2.78 lakh on Sunday, the lowest after 170 days, the Union Health Ministry said.

However, the pandemic continued to take a toll on activities as it forced the postponement of the winter session of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, which was scheduled to begin on December 28, after protem speaker disclosed that 61 employees and officials of the Assembly secretariat and five MLAs have tested coronavirus positive.

To assess the readiness of the mechanism laid out for the COVID-19 vaccination drive, a dry run has been planned by the Centre on December 28 and 29 in four states Punjab, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

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, the Union Health Ministry had said. As part of the strategy that has been put in place to detect and contain the mutant variant detected in the UK, five percent of the positive cases of COVID-19 from all states and UTs will be tested for Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS), the Union Health Ministry had said on Saturday after a meeting of the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 on the issue.

Further, more than 50 samples of UK returnees are currently under sequencing at the designated laboratories. In Maharashtra, the Mumbai civic body issued revised guidelines to ensure the compulsory quarantine for 14 days for all passengers arriving from the UK, Europe, and the Middle East.

As per the amended Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), travellers will be kept under institutional quarantine after arrival and RT-PCR test will be conducted on the seventh day from the arrival at the respective hotels, institutional facilities at their own coast. "If the report of the test is found negative, the passenger would be discharged from the institutional quarantine after seven days with the advice of seven days mandatory home quarantine. A total of 14 days quarantine is to be ensured," the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said in a release.

As per the guidelines, home quarantine stamp will be put and undertaking will be taken from the travellers that they will abide to be in home quarantine. If the test result is found positive, passenger will be shifted to designated COVID-19 hospitals.

All passengers who had arrived from the UK between December 21 and 23 have been tested at the airports and only after the RT-PCR test result are available, the negative passengers were permitted to exit the airports. All positively tested passengers were put under institutional isolation and their samples sent for Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) All passengers who had arrived from the UK between 25th November and 20th December 2020 were being tracked by the IDSP State Surveillance Units (SSUs) and District Surveillance Units (DSUs) Samples of all positive cases are being sent for WGS and enhanced contact tracing of these positive cases is being undertaken and these contacts are also put under facility quarantine, the ministry had said.