The Centre on Tuesday stressed on continuous alertness and advised states and Union territories reporting a surge in Covid cases to strictly monitor epidemiological profile of admitted coronavirus-infected patients and report the clinical manifestations to the health ministry, rather than random or anecdotal reporting. This will help in identifying at an early stage any out-of-the-ordinary or different clinical presentation of the patients, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said during a review meeting with 14 states and union territories.
Bhushan reviewed the status of Covid situation through video conference with those states and Union territories 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, a health ministry statement said. Noting that the uptake in second and precaution doses in many states reporting the present surge was low, they were advised to rapidly accelerate the vaccination coverage especially of the 60 plus elderly population, and second dose among 12-17 population group, the statement said. It was pointed out that the ongoing ‘Har Ghar Dastak2.0’ drive needed a strong push to ramp up Covid vaccine uptake.
Underscoring that there was no shortage of Covid vaccines, the states were advised to ensure that vaccines that expire first are administered first preventing any wastage of the precious national resource. NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr Vinod Paul advised Assam, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal reporting spike in COVID-19 cases to 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 June 9,” he stressed.
“Routine surveillance constitutes the steel frame of our Covid response and management strategy and needs continuous and unstinted attention,” he said. The four-fold strategy highlights surveillance of incoming inter-national travellers; community-based surveillance; sentinel site surveillance (health facility-based surveillance and lab-based surveillance); and whole genome sequencing. States were advised to scan for and report all SARI and ILI 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, the statement said.
“States were also strongly advised to strictly monitor epidemiological profile of admitted COVID-19 patients and report the clinical manifestation to 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,” the statement said. Both Paul and Bhushan highlighted the low level of Covid testing across the states, and drop in RTPCR share.
Instead of a thin and wide testing spectrum, states were advised to focus on strategic testing of patients coming to fever clinics, SARI and ILI patients,along with new clusters and geographies in all districts reporting higher positivity. In addition, the states were reminded to undertake whole genome sequencing through the mapped labs of INSACOG network according to the revised surveillance strategy of the health ministry, which has already been shared with the states and Union territories, the statement said.
Bhushan urged the 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. The states were advised to focus on implementation of Covid appropriate behaviour to control the spread of infection, especially in view of the forthcoming festivals in many states, the statement added.