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NEW DELHI : The union government is concerned about a potential rise in covid cases during the coming Diwali and Dussehra festivals and has warned states and union territories to ensure there’s no let-up in the surveillance strategy to track new variants, said Dr N.K. Arora, chairman of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI).

Experts have also urged people to take their booster doses, and advised hospitals to ensure adequate health infrastructure such as essential medicines and oxygen supply. This year Durga Pujo is followed by Dussehra and Diwali starts next month.

“Even though covid cases are declining, the surveillance activities in the states/UTs should be strongly conducted because we have festival season after a few days. There should be no laxity to detect any new variant. This is a very crucial time," said Arora.

“Government is also working on strengthening healthcare infrastructure such as ICU, beds, adequate supply of oxygen. Besides this, one has to continue covid-19 appropriate behavior like wearing face masks etc," he said.

In the last two years, India’s reported covid-19 cases have crossed 45 million with 528,355 deaths reported so far. The country reported 4,858 cases in the last 24 hours.

Experts said that Omicron and its sub variants and lineages continue to be the dominant variant in India.

Dr Pragya Yadav, Senior Scientists at the National Institute of Virology (NIV-Pune) said, “Most of the people are asymptomatic and do not test. Right now, in India, Omicron’s new variant BA.2.75 is emerging. The good thing is that people in our country have developed very good hybrid immunity (vaccination plus natural infection) because of that BA.2.75 is not able to make much impact on us."

At present, the BA.2.75 subvariant is circulating in India, Chile, UK, Singapore, Spain and Germany.

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