COVID Spike: Union Health Secy Chairs Meet With 12 States, UTs
The 12 states include Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Bengal and Delhi.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Saturday, 27 March, chaired a high-level review meeting with Additional Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and Secretaries of 12 states, Municipal Commissioners and District Collectors of 46 districts most affected by rising cases and rising mortality because of COVID-19.
The 12 states include Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Punjab and Bihar.
Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, was also present during the review meeting.
Through a detailed presentation, the states were informed that the country has seen the sharpest rise in weekly COVID cases and fatalities since May 2020 (7.7 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively).
The focus was on 46 districts that have contributed 71 percent of the cases and 69 percent of deaths this month. Of the total 36 districts in Maharashtra, 25 are most affected that account for 59.8 percent of cases reported in the country during the past one week.
A granular analysis of affected districts in these States and UTs along with some key statistics was presented.
Almost 90 percent of the COVID-19 deaths continue to be in the category of those aged above 45 years. Findings of studies were highlighted which depicted that while 90 percent people are aware, only 44 percent actually wear face masks.
One infected person could spread COVID-19 to an average of 406 other individuals in a 30-day window without restrictions which could be reduced to just 15 by decreasing physical exposure to 50 percent and to a further 2.5 (average) by decreasing physical exposure to 75 percent.
It was also highlighted that the concept of ‘second wave’ reflected more laxity among everyone regarding COVID-appropriate behaviour, COVID containment and management strategy at the ground level.
Hence, stringent action, including effective containment and contact tracing for at least 14 successive days in the 46 districts was strongly recommended for breaking the chain of transmission and not frittering away the gains of collaborative efforts of last year.
A five-fold strategy was laid out for adoption by the states and UTs for effective containment and management of the COVID pandemic, which includes exponential increase in testing, effective isolation and contact tracing, re-invigoration of public and private healthcare resources, ensuring of COVID-appropriate behaviour and targeted approach to vaccination in districts reporting large numbers.
States were asked to focus on universalisation of vaccination in the specified priority population age groups as an aid to containment strategy in districts where maximum cases are being reported.
It was reiterated that there is no shortage of vaccines. States must optimally utilise all vaccination capacities within the public and private sectors in all districts, and make full use of the available vaccine stocks without keeping a buffer stock in anticipation of a shortage.
The four depots at Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata and Karnal have the requisite buffer stocks and all requirements of states, based on their daily consumption and available stocks, are being met.
States were also asked to make advance planning of logistics and infrastructure management for 1-1.5 months, as any unchecked spread of infection among the community may overwhelm the local administration.
Re-appropriation of unused vaccine stocks in a district to focus on the high burden districts was also suggested.
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