India’s health ministry is on alert following a surge of Covid cases in neighbouring China.
The government has instructed states to ensure genome sequencing of all positive cases in the country.
It has also asked state governments to step up efforts to curb any possible spread during the Christmas and New Year festivities.
India witnessed two deadly waves of Covid in 2020 and 2021, but has seen low infection levels this year.
According to government data, the country reports roughly 1,200 Covid cases every week. Over 2.2 billion Covid vaccine doses have been administered so far.
On Tuesday, the federal government asked states to send Covid samples of all positive patients to labs runs by INSACOG, a forum under the health ministry which studies and monitors various strains of Covid in India.
The move came amid growing concerns over the spread of Covid in China following the recent easing of strict lockdown measures.
Hospitals and medical facilities in China have come under increasing strain as those who’ve tested positive at home seek medical support.
In a letter to all states, federal health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said it was important to track new variants through genome sequencing due to the “sudden spurt of cases being witnessed in Japan, United States of America, Republic of Korea, Brazil and China”.
This would help authorities detect newer variants and take measures to contain them, he said.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya met senior officials on Wednesday to review the situation and step up surveillance.India was one of the worst affected countries during the first two waves of Covid. Millions were affected and more than 530,000 people died, according to official figures.
But experts believe the real number of Covid deaths was likely to be much higher as many cases people who died were not tested or reported into official figures.The government had also come under heavy criticism for its poor preparation during the second wave in the summer of 2021 as many people died due to lack of oxygen and critical medicines.