Defence Forces’ New COVID Policy Exempts Asymptomatic Personnel From Testing And Quarantine. Details Here

The defence forces have implemented a new policy on testing and quarantine in services that says that the infection caused by Omicron strain is less pathogenic than the delta and beta variants of the virus.

Published: January 10, 2022 4:44 PM IST

By India.com News Desk | Edited by Sanstuti Nath

Defence Forces' New COVID Policy Exempts Asymptomatic Personnel From Testing And Quarantine. Details Here
(Representative Picture)

New Delhi: Amid the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country, the medical authority responsible for policymaking in the Indian defence forces have ruled against the quarantining of personnel infected by the Omicron variant of coronavirus. The new policy which is now implemented in all three defence forces and the Indian Coast Guard stated that due to Omicron’s “extremely high transmissibility”, it is very likely that infected persons within quarantine facilities of defence forces would transmit the virus among non-infected personnel during the quarantine period leading to cluster outbreaks at quarantine centres.

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The defence forces have implemented a new policy on testing and quarantine in services that says that the infection caused by Omicron strain is less pathogenic than the delta and beta variants of the virus.

“Infection caused by Omicron variant is primarily an Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (Several studies have conclusively proven the high viral load only in upper airways and very low viral multiplication in lung tissue) which is corroborated by the large numbers of asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic cases,” said the policy issued by the Directorate General of Armed Forces Medical Services headed by Vice Admiral, Rajat Datta.

“The virus is inherently less pathogenic compared to the Delta and Beta variants; additional protection is conferred by immunity (either due to natural infection or vaccine-induced). Taking into cognizance the aforesaid, quarantining is not justified,” it said.

Observing that due Omicron’s “extremely high transmissibility” it is very likely that infected persons within quarantine facilities of defence forces would transmit the virus among non-infected personnel during the quarantine period leading to cluster outbreaks at quarantine centres, the policy said that same has also experienced in both the first and second waves of the pandemic where significant cluster outbreaks were recorded at quarantine centres across the Armed Forces.

The policy issued by the DGAFMS recommended that travel-related quarantine in the defence forces would be “an exception rather than a rule and will be applicable only to specific service conditions where sudden manpower depletion could have a direct bearing on operational aspects.”

On testing of personnel for infection, the policy stated that asymptomatic personnel should not be subject to testing which includes personnel returning from leave, those identified as part of contact tracing and asymptomatic household contacts.

The policy said that in the prevailing conditions rampant community transmission of the virus, “the role of contact tracing has lost its significance and should only be restricted to specific situations like cluster outbreaks.”

The policy also makes it clear that exit testing on discharge from the hospital is only mandated for those with severe disease. “Asymptomatic or Mildly symptomatic cases and those with the moderate disease do not require testing for discharge,” it said.

The DGAFMS is the highest medical authority in the three defence forces and has been the main body in the fight against COVID in the armed forces.

(Inputs from ANI)

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Published Date: January 10, 2022 4:44 PM IST