Worst-affected states asked to convert non-Covid health services into dedicated Covid care
Maharashtra has reported the highest positivity rate of 23.44% in the country in the last one week. The average positivity rate in the country was at 5.5%. The average daily cases in Maharashtra has gone up from 3,051 on February 10 to 34,456 on March 24. The average daily deaths during this period are up from 32 per day to 118 per day in the state. Maharashtra now accounts for 62% of the active caseload in the country.
Eight of the top 10 worst Covid-19-affected districts with highest active cases in the country are in Maharashtra, with Pune having the highest number of active cases at 59,475 cases followed by Mumbai at 46,248.
Punjab is also badly affected with 2,742 average daily cases and 53 deaths per day in March 24, compared to 240 cases and eight deaths on February 10. Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat account for 78.56% of the new cases in the country. Ten states are showing an upward trajectory in daily new cases. Other states in focus include Karnataka (with 2,594 cases and 11 deaths) and Chhattisgarh (with 2,263 daily cases and 19 deaths). Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have reported a 10x rise in cases in the last one month. The country’s total active case load reached 5,40,720 on Tuesday. Total vaccine doses administered as on Tuesday morning was 6,11,13,354.
VK Paul, member (health) Niti Aayog, said situation had gone from “bad to worse” with a seven-time acceleration as new cases went up from 9,000 a day around a month ago to 68,000 per day on Saturday in the country. A battle is raging not just in Mahrashtra and Punjab but in every state, Paul warned. Without effective contact tracing, quarantining, creating containment zones/ clusters and isolating geographies, the virus will have its own run, he said. He blamed the surge on laxity in compliance and said the country was facing an increasingly severe and intensive situation. This could overwhelm the system and lead to a rise in deaths so it cannot be business as usual, Paul said.
“The affected states will soon have to take a decision of converting the non-Covid health services in both public and private hospitals into dedicated Covid-care facilities and not delay this,” Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said at a media briefing on Tuesday. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare called an emergency meeting of all the worst-affected states and 47 districts on Saturday and urged them to respond to the second surge with all the available tools. States were asked to focus time and energy on healthcare and achieve 100% saturation levels in vaccination for the priority age groups in the most affected districts.
Paul urged the private sector to expand their role in vaccination as only 6,000 private health service providers out of the 20,000-plus registered private sector healthcare providers were participating. States have been asked to ramp up RT-PCR tests, carry out contact tracing and promptly isolate cases and increase institutional quarantine and enforce Covid -appropriate behaviour either through law, fines, persuasion or influencers.
The Co-Win application for registration of those above 45 years of age on April 1, 2021, has opened up and a steady acceleration in vaccination is expected.