Andhra Pradesh

No room for complacency

Nineteen months ago, Andhra Pradesh had officially reported its first COVID-19 infection on March 12, 2020. The State witnessed two waves of COVID-19 and a peak of about 24,000 cases a day in May this year. Since then, the incidence of COVID-19 infections has come down gradually to about 200-300 infections a day currently.

As the infections have come down, the observance of COVID-appropriate behaviour (CAB) has gone for a toss. Though the COVID infection rate is on the decline, the emergence of several new variants of the virus, the third wave of infections in western countries and the rising incidence of infection rate in other Indian States call for continued focus on CAB.

Many people and organisations have given up COVID safety measures and it is evident at private and public gatherings and public places like bus stations, hotels, cinemas and other commercial establishments where people without masks are seen regularly. Under similar circumstances, when it was assumed that the pandemic was over, the second wave surged resulting in nearly six lakh infections in May.

A COVID instant order by the State Health Department citing the Centre’s advisory issued a few weeks ago says: “The surge in cases is being reported in many countries and has reinforced the importance of the implementation of COVID-Appropriate Behaviour in addition to vaccination efforts. There is a need for constant focus on prompt and effective containment measures as well as acceleration in the pace and coverage of COVID vaccination to prevent any potential rise in the number of cases. In the coming months, various festivities such as Milad-un-Nabi, Deepavali, Christmas and New Year will follow one after the other till December 31, 2021. This is a critical period as there may be a tendency to ignore COVID-safety measures during festivities resulting in large gatherings, events and fairs. Any laxity in implementation of CAB could lead to serious consequences and can result in a surge in cases.”

Key indicators

To monitor the trend, the government focuses on positivity rate and bed occupancy in COVID hospitals. More than 10% test positivity rate in a week in a target area and more than 60% bed occupancy indicates a surge.

As of November 12, out of 3,196 active patients 124 were on ventilators and 434 in ICU wards. About 900 patients occupied beds with oxygen supply and 310 occupied general beds, according to the hospital bed availability portal by the Health Department.

Meanwhile, the test positivity rate in the State has been below 1% for several weeks but with more tests, more infected persons are detected and the positivity rate rises.

“Due to various reasons, people are not coming forward for testing. We have been conducting fever surveys at ward and village levels and urging people to get tested whenever necessary. Testing is available in all locations through ANMs and secretariats,” says G. Hymavathi, Director, Public Health.

Strategic initiative

The Health Department is prepared to face any surge in the future with village-level COVID care centres, a strategic initiative to bring down the burden on hospitals, adequate oxygen supply and paediatric infrastructure, she adds.

The prevalence of AY.4.2 variant of coronavirus is negligible in the State and it is not a variant of concern. “Most of the infections were reported in a few districts like Chittoor and East Godavari while a majority of the districts reported fewer cases in the past several weeks. Our efforts to curb the spread of the virus have been continuous since the beginning and we have augmented capacities to face any surge in the cases,” she says.


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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 12:17:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/no-room-for-complacency/article37495061.ece

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