NEW DELHI: India’s Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla along with Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary chaired high-level meetings today to review status of Covid-19 in Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh and the public health measures taken for containment and management of COVID19 by the State health authorities.
Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, Dr. Balram Bhargava, DG ICMR, Dr (Prof) Sunil Kumar, DGHS were also present along with Chief Secretaries, DG (police), and Health Secretaries of both States.
Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh along with Maharashtra are the only three States in the country which have more than one lakh Active Cases. Both Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh are reporting very high number of daily new COVID19 cases and high deaths caused by COVID-19. Chhattisgarh has reported nearly 6.2% increase in weekly new COVID cases based on 7 day moving average.
In last two weeks, the State has seen an almost 131% increase in weekly new cases. 22 districts in Chhattisgarh have crossed their reported highest cases in the last 30 days; Raipur, Durg, Rajnandgaon and Bilaspur are the most affected districts. In contrast to the week 17th-23rd March 2021, in the week of 7th-13thApril 2021, RT-PCR tests have decreased to 28% (from 34%) while the Antigen Tests have increased to 62% (from 53%).
Uttar Pradesh has reported a growth rate of 19.25% in daily new cases. 46 districts in Uttar Pradesh have crossed their reported highest cases in the last 30 days; Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi and Prayagraj are the most affected districts. In contrast to the week 17th-23rd March 2021, in the week of 7th-13th April 2021, RT-PCR tests have decreased to 46% (from 48%) while Antigen tests have increased to 53% (from 51%).
The reported shortage of hospital infrastructure such as ICU and oxygen supported hospitals beds resulting in difficulty to the public in easily accessing critical healthcare services were discussed in comprehensive detail, requiring an urgent ramping up of hospital infrastructure.
The States were advised to increase the number of isolation beds, oxygen beds, ventilators/ICU beds, ambulance fleet as per requirement; plan for adequate oxygen supply; and focus on mortality reduction by early identification of positive cases and adherence to national treatment protocol.
Prohibiting unnecessary travel and crowing in public places through strict and effective enformncement was stressed.
The Union Health Secretary informed that the States’ demand for oxygen cylinders (including 10 Litre cylinders and 45 litre jumbo cylinders) and demand for additional ventilators (having high flow nasal canula) will be met very soon.
The Union Government has mapped the manufacturing sources of Oxygen with the 12 States reporting the highest number of daily new cases. States have been advised to increase dedicated COVID19 beds and use the available buildings in the Hospital campus (including AIIMS) for creation of additional COVID19 dedicated wards.
The States were also advised to make use of the hospitals of Union Ministries and PSUs for treating COVID-19 patients. The Union Health Secretary further informed that the Union Health Ministry is informing States every day in the morning of the day’s supply of COVID19 Vaccines to the States, to enable better planning for optimum utilisation of the Vaccines. An augmented health workforce would be needed in the coming days for contact tracing and house-to-house survey for the symptomatic patients. The States were advised deployment of volunteers of NSS, NYK, women Self Help Groups (SHGs), and hiring retired doctors/paramedics etc., on contracts under NHM funds.
DG ICMR recommended setting up of more testing labs, including mobile labs. He also advised for keeping a vigil and ramping up of testing on a continuous basis in districts showing more than 5% positivity rate.
After a detailed and comprehensive review, the following 5-fold strategy for tackling the recent surge was re-emphasised:
Significantly increase testing in all districts with a minimum of 70% RT-PCR tests and use of Rapid Antigen Tests as screening tests in densely populated areas as well as areas where fresh clusters are emerging. Mandatorily subject those who have tested negative in Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) to RT-PCR test.
Ramped up effective and timely tracing, containment and surveillance activities to curb the chain of transmission, and strict implementation of containment measures.
Effectively follow the protocol of clinical care, treatment and supported home / facility care.
Strict and effective enforcement of COVID safe behavior including strict limitation of unnecessary movement of people and crowds.
Time-bound plan of 100% vaccination of eligible population groups, especially in the high focus districts.