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Centre asks states to analyse COVID situation, strengthen health infrastructure

States and Union Territories should undertake in-depth analysis of the COVID-19 situation and strengthen health infrastructure, stock essential medicines and augment human resources, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba said on Saturday, stressing that there is no room for any complacency. Gauba chaired a high-level meeting to review and discuss the Covid management and response strategy through video conference on Saturday.

In the meeting, Gauba told the states that there is no room for complacency and stressed the need to strictly enforce Covid-appropriate behaviour (CAB).

Drawing examples from other countries that witnessed multiple peaks of COVID-19, he expressed concern over high test positivity being reported in certain pockets of the country.

He advised the state health administrators to undertake granular analysis of the Covid trajectory, ramp up their health infrastructure, undertake stocking of essential medicines and augment human resources at the earliest to meet any potential surge in cases.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan highlighted the emerging challenge of Serotype-II Dengue in 11 states which is associated with more cases and complications than other forms of the disease.

He suggested that states should undertake steps like early detection of cases, operationalisation of fever helplines, adequate stocking of testing kits, larvicides and medicines, deployment of rapid response teams for prompt investigation.

He also suggested necessary public health action like fever survey, contact tracing, vector control, alerting blood banks for maintaining adequate stocks of blood and blood components, especially platelets.

The states were also urged to also undertake IEC campaigns regarding helplines, methods of vector control, source reduction at homes and symptoms of dengue, the Union Health Ministry said in a statement.

Bhushan brought to the notice of the states/UTs that 70 districts in 15 states are a cause of concern as 34 of these districts have positivity exceeding 10 per cent and in 36 districts, the positivity is in the range of 5-10 per cent.

In view of the forthcoming festival season, the Health ministry said the states were directed to ensure all necessary precautions and effective enforcement for avoidance of mass gathering and congested closed spaces.

Existing guidelines regarding malls, local markets, and places of worship are to be strictly followed. States were urged to undertake effective IEC for promotion of Covid-appropriate behaviour and Covid safe festivities.

They were advised to closely monitor the case trajectories in all the districts on a daily basis to identify early warning signals and ensure imposition of restrictions and adherence to CAB.

The five-fold Covid containment strategy (Test, Treat, Track, Vaccinate, CAB adherence), enhanced testing as an aid to early identification, augmentation of health infrastructure to prepare for future (prioritizing rural areas and paediatric cases), contact tracing, surveillance and containment measures and stringent action in clusters reporting higher cases, among others were also re-emphasised, the statement said.

It was also noted that urgent action on augmentation of hospital infrastructure, oxygen availability, building up buffer stocks of critical drugs, ambulance services and implementation of IT systems/ helplines/ telemedicine services is required.

The health secretary said funds have been released to all states/ UTs under Emergency COVID-19 Response Package which should be promptly and optimally utilized.

Chief secretaries of states were urged to conduct a district-level review and ensure that adequate medical infrastructure and supplies commensurate with the projected requirements are urgently mobilized.

Further, private sector capacities may also be duly inventoried and deployed based on the emerging requirements, the statement said.

To make all possible effort to avert any new upsurge, state authorities were urged to focus on ensuring compliance of Covid-appropriate behaviour and observance of Covid-safe festivities, implementing intensive containment and active surveillance in clusters reporting high cases and not delay imposition of restrictions, increased testing while maintaining RT-PCR ratio, prompt commissioning of pressure swing adsorption plants, oxygen cylinders, concentrators and ventilators, it said.

The ministry said the states were also asked to focus on regular reviews for priority implementation of Emergency COVID-19 Response Package-II to ensure preparedness with enough headroom, monitoring infection spread in children considering that few states have opened schools, monitoring breakthrough infections post vaccination and analyze the emerging evidence, monitor mutations including sending sufficient samples for genome sequencing and accelerating speed and coverage of vaccination

The ministry said it has also advised states and UTs to take necessary measures for prevention and control of dengue and other vector-borne diseases. PTI

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