Mock drills across States check COVID-readiness

The exercise, conducted on the directive of the Centre, checked the availability of medical facilities in hospitals, isolation wards, beds, oxygen facilities and capacity of beds equipped with ventilator supports

December 27, 2022 09:00 pm | Updated December 28, 2022 07:52 am IST - NEW DELHI

A patient coming out from LNJP Hospital in New Delhi on December 27, 2022.

A patient coming out from LNJP Hospital in New Delhi on December 27, 2022. | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Following a directive from the Union Health Ministry to ascertain preparedness in case of a resurgence in coronavirus cases, several States reported success with their mock drills on Tuesday.

India, in keeping with trends from last two weeks, reported less than 200 coronavirus positive cases on Tuesday, with no confirmed reports of novel infectious variants.

A global surge in coronavirus cases, particularly in China, provoked authorities to assess India’s preparedness. One of these was evaluating COVID hospitals.

Brajesh Pathak, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister and Health Minister, visited a facility in Lucknow to ascertain its preparedness. Two new COVID-19 cases have been detected in the State in the last two days.

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Amid rising fear that the new variants may trigger a spike in cases, the Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday asked people to wear masks in crowded places and at all medical facilities.

Last week, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath held a high-level meeting on COVID-19 situation in the State amid an increase in cases across the world. In the meeting, Mr. Adityanath directed officials to conduct genome sequencing of every positive case and gave instructions to increase testing and increase the pace of administering precaution (booster) doses.

In Karnataka, mock drills were conducted in various government hospitals and private hospitals which were earlier designated as COVID hospitals.

Reserve beds

State Health minister K. Sudhakar said all the designated COVID hospitals would reserve 50-60 beds for COVID patients. The drill checked oxygen, COVID-19 ward, ICU, doctors, medical staff availability and overall infrastructure.

Karnataka was continuing its policy of testing 2% of international arrivals at the Bengaluru and Mangaluru airports. The Bowring Hospital in Bengaluru and the Wenlock Hospital in Mangaluru were announced as designated quarantine facilities for symptomatic passengers. The Karnataka government has also asked for additional vaccine doses from the Centre and planned to conduct camps to ensure better coverage of booster dose.

A mock drill was held at all government hospitals in Bihar to review their preparedness for treatment, test and vaccination for a pandemic resurgence. “The availability of medical facilities in hospitals, isolation wards, beds, oxygen facilities and capacity of beds equipped with ventilator supports too were reviewed during the mock drill”, a senior official of the State Health department, who requested anonymity, told The Hindu. I.S. Thakur, Superintendent, Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), said, “Our oxygen plants are working well and we are ready to meet any surge of COVID-19 with all our available medical facilities.”

11 test positive

Eleven foreigners who had come to Gaya, Bihar from Thailand, Taiwan and Myanmar to attend Tibetan spiritual guru Dalai Lama’s three-day spiritual training camp tested COVID-19 positive on December 25-26 and have been isolated at a hotel there.

“The organisers of Dalai Lama’s three-day camp have been asked to test all those meeting him for COVID-19 and follow all guidelines strictly”, said Gaya district magistrate Thiyagarajan S. M.  One person tested positive on December 26 and his sample has been sent to the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) in Patna for genome sequencing. 

“Since four days, tests administered to suspected persons have been increased and we are also motivating people to come forward for more tests at medical colleges and hospitals or, at primary health centres too. We are prepared for the possible surge of COVID-19,” K.K. Roy, Patna’s Civil Surgeon, told The Hindu.

In Hyderabad, a mock drill was conducted at the Gandhi Hospital. The test found that the hospital currently has 1,890 beds out of which 650 are ICU beds equipped with ventilators, another 600 beds are oxygen beds and the rest, regular beds. There were 530 ventilators, 475 multi-channel monitors, 100 Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines, 50 BiPAP machines and 100 High Flow Nasal Cannula (HFNC) machines.

“As the Gandhi Hospital has served people during two major COVID waves, everybody is trained and geared up for anything that comes in the future as well. People need not worry or panic, at the same time, they should take enough care, especially those belonging to the high-risk category,” said Raja Rao, Superintendent of the hospital.

Kerala well prepared

“The State is well-prepared to meet any surge in COVID cases,” Tinku Biswal, Principal Secretary, Kerala (Health) said, “because our hospital infrastructure is in place. We reckon that we have adequate hospital beds, oxygen beds and critical care beds and we are self-sufficient in medical oxygen. At the PHC/CHC levels too, a lot of investment has been done in putting systems in place. In the case of human resources, we might need to pull in people from local bodies in the event of a surge but we do not see that happening.”

Teams deployed by the Department of Health and Family Welfare at the airports in Andhra Pradesh have been testing at least 5% of the international passengers arriving at the Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada airports.

The Health Department had been conducting mock drills at the hospitals in the State, Health and Family Welfare commissioner, J. Nivas, said. Mock drills were conducted at 302 hospitals in the State on Monday and Tuesday involving all the staff and officials. The drill reviewed the status of the beds, drugs availability, oxygen infrastructure, isolation beds and also the staff, he said. “For the first time we are involving Village Health Clinics which were given 10 rapid test kits and all medicines required to treat COVID patients,” said Mr. Nivas.

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