New Delhi: Amid the rising concerns of the new variant, Omicron, Hyderabad on Sunday registered 13 cases of covid after the installment of intensified surveillance mechanism at the international airport. A senior health official said that the authorities have intensified the surveillance mechanism at the Hyderabad international airport.Also Read - Budget Glossary 2022: Key Economic Terms Decoded to Understand FM Nirmala Sitharaman's Speech

Director of Public Health (DPH) Dr Srinivas Rao said, “We have intensified surveillance mechanism at int’l airport in Hyderabad. 970 passengers arrived in city since Dec 1. Upon screening with RT-PCR, 13 were found positive and they were immediately shifted to chosen facility.” Also Read - India Reports Over 3.06 Lakh New COVID Infections, Active Cases in Country Highest in 241 Days

“Their samples have been sent for genome sequencing results of which are expected this evening. Only then we will know whether they are Omicron variant or the existing Delta variant,” he added. Also Read - COVID-19 And Breastfeeding: Study Reveals NO Evidence of Infection Being Transmitted Through Breastfeeding

“Towards this new Omicron variant we intensified our surveillance mechanism at the international airport here. Since December 1, as many as 979 international travellers from “at-risk” countries arrived at Hyderabad international airport and on Saturday 70 international travellers came,” Director of Public Health (DPH) Dr G Srinivasa Rao told reporters here.

RT-PCR tests were conducted on them and so far 13 of them were found positive for COVID-19 and their samples sent for genome sequencing in view of Omicron variant threat, he said.

The genome sequencing reports of the 13 passengers is expected to come today evening or tomorrow after which it will be known whether they have Omicron or Delta variant, he said adding the 13 have been shifted to the designated health facilities.

He further said the Telangana government has fully geared up to meet any eventuality and has also intensified vaccination programme and plans are afoot to further increase vaccination coverage in the coming days.

So far 92 per cent of the population has been covered under first dose and 48 per cent in the second dose, he said.

An action plan has been chalked out to improve the coverage with two doses by December 31, he said.

The official said people need not panic and reiterated that it is high time to be more careful and adhere to all the COVID appropriate behaviour by wearing masks, frequent hand sanitisation, physical distancing, not to participate in large gatherings and to take vaccination.

Reacting to a query, on possible surge of COVID-19 infections from next month onwards, the official said: “This variant has characteristics of spreading fast. We have to wait and watch how this new variant is going to behave in the coming days. We are expecting a little bit surge in mid of January (2022) or February in our state or country.”

The state government is completely geared up and made necessary preparations to tackle a probable third wave of COVID-19, he said.

The government has created increased infrastructure in hospitals and as part of it, 27,000 oxygen beds were created in public health system and overall(public and private) there are 66,000 beds in the state, Rao said pointing out that more than 6,000 beds exclusively for children have been established in government hospitals.

Similarly, medical oxygen generation capacity in the state has been increased to 327MT from 135 MT and efforts are on to further increase it to 500 MTs, Rao said.

PSA oxygen generation plants have been established in all government hospitals along with private hospitals and stored our life saving drugs everything is place, the official said.

If there is any surge (of COVID-19 cases), the government and the department is completely ready to take up the challenge, he said as he ruled out the the possibility of a lockdown.