Amid rising COVID-19 cases, a nationwide mock drill to take stock of hospital preparedness will be held on April 10 and 11 in which both public and private facilities are expected to participate.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will visit AIIMS, Jhajjar on April 10 to oversee the mock drill, officials said on Sunday.
In a review meeting held on April 7, Mr. Mandaviya had urged State Health Ministers to visit hospitals and oversee the mock drills.
He had also advised them to review the preparedness with district administrations and health officials on April 8 and 9.
In the meeting with State Health Ministers, and principal and Additional Chief Secretaries held virtually, Mr. Mandaviya had stressed the need to identify emergency hotspots by monitoring trends of influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) cases, ramping up testing and vaccination, and ensuring readiness of hospital infrastructure.
Besides enhancing genome sequencing and ramping up whole genome sequencing of positive samples, he had emphasised creating awareness about following COVID-appropriate behaviour.
Identifying emergency hotspots
During the meeting, States and Union Territories were informed that currently the World Health Organisation (WHO) is closely tracking a variant of interest (VOI), XBB.1.5, and six other variants are under monitoring (BQ.1, BA.2.75, CH.1.1, XBB, XBF and XBB.1.16), a Health Ministry statement had said.
It was highlighted that while Omicron and its sub-lineages continue to be the predominant variants, most of the assigned variants have little or no significant transmissibility, disease severity or immune escape.
The prevalence of XBB.1.16 increased from 21.6% in February to 35.8% in March. However, no evidence of an increase in hospitalisation or mortality has been reported, the statement said.
During the meeting, it was observed that 23 States and Union Territories had average tests per million below the national average.
Mr. Mandaviya had said that irrespective of the new variants, the five-fold strategy of 'Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate and adherence to COVID-Appropriate Behaviour' continues to remain the tested strategy for COVID management.
States and Union Territories were also requested to expeditiously increase the rate of testing from 100 tests per million as on the week ending April 7. They were further advised to increase the share of RT-PCR in tests.