All district administrations have been directed to act upon these points immediately, as per a letter dated March 3 of the health department's principal secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas.
The COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra have been on a rise since the second week of February.
To check the spike in COVID-19 cases, the Maharashtra health department has come up a seven- point action plan, including testing of close contacts, fast contact-tracing, mass testing in hot-spots and audit of deaths. All district administrations have been directed to act upon these points immediately, as per a letter dated March 3 of the health department’s principal secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas.
The action plan also includes strict adherence to guidelines on social, political and religious gatherings, and to involve civil societies and religious leaders to motivate people to adopt COVID-19-appropriate behaviour. The COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra have been on a rise since the second week of February.
On Tuesday, the state reported 9,927 new COVID-19 cases which took the caseload to 22,38,398, while 56 fatalities pushed up the death count to 52,556, as per official data. The action plan has been prepared following observations of a team from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which recently visited Nagpur, Amravati, Yavatmal, Thane, Pune and Mumbai, where there has been a spike in cases of the viral infection.
In the letter issued to all district collectors and civic chiefs, Dr Vyas said though the central team came out with observations based on its visits to the above-mentioned districts, a similar situation might be prevailing in other districts also. Hence, all the district administrations need to act on these strategies, he said.
As per the letter, the districts have been asked to activate institutional quarantine or isolation facilities as there is no proper mechanism to monitor patients in home isolation on a day-to-day basis. Authorities have been instructed that as the test report of a patient’s close contact is likely to be false- negative if the person is in the incubation period, there is a need to do or repeat the test around 5th to 7th day of the exposure.
Till then, the person may be kept in institutional quarantine, the letter said. “Contact-tracing has to be really fast and most of the close contacts of the patient should be traced within 48 hours,” the letter stated. The central team has also suggested that in COVID-19 hot-spots, there could be universal testing of each and every person using a large number of rapid antigen tests, if sufficient RT-PCR test capacity is not available.
If required, these tests may be repeated after 14 days so that hot-spots could be eliminated, the letter said. Authorities have also been asked to strengthen the death audit mechanism at the level of health institutions and medical colleges to find out gaps in the treatment protocols.
To check crowds, district administrations and civic bodies have been asked to scrupulously follow the guidelines for marriages, and other social, political and religious gatherings. They have also been asked to rope in civil societies and religious leaders to motivate people towards adopting COVID-19-appropriate behaviour.