Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in a letter to Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of Health and Family Welfare made recommendations for tackling the current COVID surge in the country.
FICCI’s Covid Task Force made six suggestions to curb the spread of the Omicron variant and the rising COVID-19 cases.
It suggested that the quarantine period, especially for those in home isolation, should be reduced to five days.
“This is based on emerging data that most patients recover within 3-5 days, and is particularly relevant for healthcare workers as a longer quarantine period might result in critical manpower shortages. Incidentally, the United States and United Kingdom, too, follow a similar approach,” the FICCI Task Force said.
The association further said that the Omicron variant is highly transmissible hence, it is not the best use of resources to trace contacts of COVID positive cases and earlier guidelines in this regard will have diminishing returns.
“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,” it added.
The task force also pointed out that mobility restrictions based on total number of cases and/or positivity rates is unwarranted. “Any decision in this regard must be based on occupancy of hospital beds, especially critical care beds, and others factors like oxygen consumption.”
According to FICCI, 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.”
FICCI’s task force also suggested that 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,” it added.
In terms of vaccinations, the Task Force recommended that the 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, of course, imperative to protect school going children. Appropriate criteria may be established based on medical advice to identify eligible beneficiaries in this age group, it added.
In its last recommendation, the FICCI Task Force said that infrastructure should be strengthened 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.