Vaccinate All in Priority Age Group in Districts of Concern: Govt

Amid the surge in COVID cases, the Health Secretary wrote to all states and UTs seeking action at district-level.

Published
India
3 min read
Image  used for representational purposes.
i

Amid the surge in coronavirus cases, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday, 30 March, wrote to chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories seeking action at the district level, including public health measures, focus on mortality reduction and 100 percent saturation vaccination of priority age groups in surge districts.

In the letter, he said that many districts are seeing clusters of cases emerging because of specific events and/or places where crowding happens, or where large number of people are in close physical contact, coupled with lack of COVID-appropriate behaviour.

Giving the states and UTs seven pointers for action at the district level, Bhushan said those districts with a high caseload and fast growth of cases should ensure 100 percent saturation vaccination of the priority age group of 45 year and above, in the coming two weeks.

States have also been asked to focus on mortality reduction, and examine the case fatality rate and its growth, identify localities and hospitals where deaths are high and analyse deaths to understand whether they were due to late detection or surveillance failure.

Other Measures Proposed

He also sought enforcement of COVID-19 appropriate behaviour using the Police Act, or powers under the Disaster Management Act. "Besides, elected representatives, local influencers, celebrities, religious leaders, etc should be roped in to ensure COVID-appropriate behaviour," he urged.

The fourth action to control the pandemic includes efficient implementation of “Test, Track, and Treat,” Bhushan said, noting that it remains the only proven strategy for control of transmission.

He also said that each district, irrespective of whether it is seeing a surge right now, or has a current low burden, should make an action plan with clear timelines and responsibilities, and including mapping of cases, reviewing sub-area-wise indicators like case positivity rate, rate of growth of cases, case fatality, doubling rate of cases on a real-time basis. The RT-PCR tests must be more than 70 percent, he added.

The action plan must also review the geographical spread of infection day-on-day, identify possible source or sources, and an Emergency Operations Centre with a team to monitor the indicators, their growth and spread 24x7 should be set up.

The Health Secretary also stressed that individual actions, such as proper wearing of masks covering the nose and mouth, maintaining six feet distance from others and sanitising one's hands frequently must be ensured.

Lastly, he asked the states and UTs to take public health measures by quarantining and testing individuals suspected to be positive, including close contacts of positive persons, isolating all those who are positive.

Bhushan requested the states and the UTs to disseminate these points among all the districts during in-depth review meetings.

India’s ‘Second Wave’

India had reported 56,211 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, taking the tally in the country to 1,20,95,855. Six states – Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat – continue to report a surge in daily new cases.

Many consider the recent surge in cases to constitute the second wave of the pandemic in the country. Cases had earlier peaked in September, when India saw more than 90,000 cases being reported every day, before steadily coming down.

Bhushan rued that after having successfully brought down the number of new COVID cases from mid-September 2020 to February 2021, India is now witnessing a rapid rise in cases. "You have been leading the effort of COVID pandemic management with your teams so far. The current rise in cases is of concern and has the potential of overwhelming healthcare systems, unless checked right now," he said in his letter.

(This story has been edited for clarity)

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!