India

Step up vigil to contain COVID-19 surge, says Centre

A health worker collects nasal swab sample for COVID-19 testing near Model Town in New Delhi. File

A health worker collects nasal swab sample for COVID-19 testing near Model Town in New Delhi. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Central Government has written to States cautioning against symptomatic and unvaccinated individuals travelling and participating in upcoming festive gatherings and yatras; stating that in case adequate care isn’t taken the country will see yet another COVID surge after the current slump.

States have also been advised to strictly monitor epidemiological profile of admitted COVID patients and report the clinical manifestation to the Health Ministry, rather than a random or anecdotal reporting. "This will help to identify at an early stage any out-of-the-ordinary or different clinical presentation of the patients," said Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday while asking States to maintain a constant vigil in pockets showing surge during the past few weeks.

States were also advised to scan for and report all influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) cases from all district hospitals, major private hospitals and medical colleges across the districts, and keep a close watch on those geographies where these clusters are emerging.

Mr. Bhushan chaired a review meeting of the COVID situation in the country through a video conference (VC) where 14-States that are reporting high number of cases on a week-to-week basis along with increased case positivity combined with low numbers of COVID tests and below average COVID vaccination participated. At the meeting, States were also advised to focus on implementation of Covid Appropriate Behavior to control the spread of infection, especially in view of the forthcoming festivals in many states.

States to accelerate vaccination coverage

The Health Ministry pointed out that the uptake in second and precaution doses in many states reporting the present surge was low. ``States are advised to rapidly accelerate the vaccination coverage especially of the 60+ elderly population, and second dose among 12-17 population group. The ongoing Har Ghar Dastak2.0 drive needs a strong push to ramp up COVID vaccine uptake. There is no shortage of COVID vaccines, but States should ensure that vaccines that expire first are administered first preventing any wastage of the precious national resource,’’ said Mr. Bhushan.

Health worker loading a Covid vaccine.

Health worker loading a Covid vaccine. | Photo Credit: C. Venkatachalapathy

Dr Vinod Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog was also present at the review meeting and said that States that have been reporting a spike in COVID cases should be watchful of the emerging pandemic situation.

“The major action point is to focus on strengthening proactive surveillance as per the Revised Surveillance Strategy issued by Union Health Ministry on 9th June 2022”, he stressed. “Routine surveillance constitutes the steel frame of our COVID response and management strategy and needs continuous and unstinted attention”, he said.

Four-fold surveillance strategy

The Ministry said that the four-fold strategy highlights surveillance of incoming international travelers; community-based surveillance; sentinel site surveillance (health facility-based surveillance and lab-based surveillance); and Whole Genome Sequencing.

Dr. Paul and Health Secretary both highlighted the low level of COVID testing across the states, and drop in RTPCR share. States were reminded to undertake Whole Genome Sequencing through the mapped labs of INSACOG network as per the Revised Surveillance Strategy of Union Health Ministry, which has already been shared with the States.

Health Secretary urged States to ensure that claims under ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: Insurance Scheme for Health Workers Fighting COVID-19' were expeditiously processed to ensure that insurance dues are paid to those public healthcare providers, including community health workers, who have died due to Covid.


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Printable version | Aug 29, 2022 10:53:40 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/step-up-vigil-to-contain-covid-19-surge-says-centre/article65575989.ece