Industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has written to Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to allow booster doses for general population at the earliest to tackle the surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.
In a letter, written on Monday, FICCI President Sanjiv Mehta informed Mandaviya about the recommendations from FICCI COVID Task Force.
Calling the recent surge in cases due to the spread of Omicron variant as a cause of concern, Mehta said the industry body is confident that India will once again be able to win the fight against COVID by taking decisions based on scientific rationale and accurate data.
"Booster doses for the general population should be allowed at the earliest as the level of protection is known to diminish with time. Assuming the booster dose is to be given 9 months after the second dose, we believe that existing inventory coupled with enhanced production capacity should be able to meet the needs," the letter said.
FICCI also said that COVID-19 vaccination programme should be opened up to the 12+ age category as keeping educational institutions closed for an extended period of time is not desirable and it is imperative to protect school going children.
The industry body also said that any decision on mobility restrictions should be based on occupancy of hospital beds, especially critical care beds, and others factors like oxygen consumption. It called the restrictions based on total number of cases and/ or positivity rates as unwarranted.
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"Needless to say, mobility restrictions must be highly localised and there should be a coordinated strategy at the national level with a view to balance lives and livelihoods; knee jerk reactions at a State, City or Municipal level will not achieve much in terms of containing the spread while threatening economic recovery," the letter said.
FICCI also urged the health minister to reduce the quarantine period, especially for those in home isolation, to five days as data shows that most patients recover within 3-5 days. This is particularly relevant for healthcare workers as a longer quarantine period might result in critical manpower shortages, it argued.
It also called for a stop to the efforts to trace contacts of COVID positive cases as the Omciron variant is highly transmissible. "Similarly, genome sequencing of all COVID positive cases to confirm the Omicron variant is not required; only a representative sample should undergo genome sequencing in order to have advance warning of any newer variants."
FICCI also urged Mandaviya to strengthen infrastructure to deal with asymptomatic/ mild cases through teleconsultation and creating surge capacity to isolate and treat moderate cases so that hospital beds are available for more serious cases including those with comorbidities.
It also assured that the industry had stepped up earlier when it came to critical issues like oxygen, and remains committed to working with the government to contain the current surge.
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