Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level meeting to review the Covid-19 situation in Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh and Manipur. Dr Balram Bhargava, ICMR DG and Secretary (DHR), was also present. Principal Secretary (Health), Mission Director (NHM), State Surveillance Officer of all these states participated in the review meeting.

The states were asked to ramp up testing along with vaccination saturation in targeted districts for vulnerable groups. Priority has to be given to second doses.

States reviewed today were asked to encourage private hospitals to set up oxygen PSA plants. They were also advised to ensure effective and regular monitoring of persons in home isolation to prevent spread of infection

The public health measures taken for surveillance, containment and management of Covid-19 by the health authorities in these 10 states were reviewed during the meeting today.

All districts reporting positivity rate more than 10 per cent in the last few weeks have been asked to consider strict restrictions to prevent of people, formation of crowds and intermingling of people to prevent spread of infection. It was underlined that any laxity at this stage will result in deterioration of the situation in these districts.

More than 80 per cent active cases in the states being reviewed are reported to be in home isolation. The need to effectively and strictly monitor these cases was emphasised upon so that they are not intermingling and circulating in their neighborhoods, community, village, mohalla, ward etc., and spreading the infection.

“The people in home isolation should be effectively monitored in such a manner to ensure that those who require hospitalization are seamlessly transferred for timely clinical treatment. Detailed SOPs covering various facets of effective clinical management of COVID19 patients in hospitals have been earlier shared with the States for prompt shifting and effective hospital management,” the ministry said in a statement.

States were also asked to focus on districts where the positivity rate is less than 10 per cent, so as to protect these districts and the populations by focusing on saturation of vaccination in these districts.

In addition to help from Centre, states have been using their own resources to put up PSA plants in government hospitals. They were advised to direct private hospitals to put up PSA plants. They had been advised regarding two months ago.

“Provisions under the Clinical Establishment Act enable States to issue such direction to the private hospitals. For states which have already issued such directions, they were advised to review the status and facilitate the private hospitals further,” the ministry statement read.

ICMR DG Balram Bhargava warned against any complacency with around 40,000 cases being reported daily since the preceding weeks. Highlighting the fact that 46 districts are showing more than 10 per cent positivity while another 53 districts are showing a positivity between 5-10 per cent, he urged the states to ramp up their testing.

States have been advised to conduct their own state level sero-surveys for district-wise disease prevalence data, as the national level sero-prevalence survey was heterogeneous in nature, in collaboration with ICMR to ensure the same sturdy protocols of survey.

Bhargava advised the states to ramp up vaccination in the over 60 and 45-60 age categories as evidence shows near 80 per cent of the mortality is from these vulnerable age-groups. Regarding enforcement measures, he advised the state authorities to discourage all non-essential travel and large gatherings of crowds.

Through a detailed presentation, a granular analysis of the highly affected districts (Districts of Concern) in these states, Covid-19 vaccination coverage, status of ventilators, PSA plants, oxygen cylinders and concentrators along with some key statistics was presented.

States were asked to use the INSACOG laboratory network for genomic surveillance to screen International Travelers (for the entry of new variants/mutants in India from other countries), monitor ongoing surveillance through Sentinel Sites (RT-PCR labs or secondary & tertiary care hospitals managing COVID cases) and surge surveillance.

States were advised to undertake intensive containment and active surveillance in clusters reporting higher cases.

They were instructed to define containment zones, based on mapping of cases and contacts traced.

The states with high number of cases were asked to undertake regular reviews and follow-up for implementation of ECRP-II with a focus on augmentation of existing health infrastructure particularly in rural areas and pwediatric cases.

Lastly, they were asked to report death count as per ICMR guidelines.

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