Covid-19: Group of officials empowered with formulating the nation’s pandemic emergency strategy said all necessary steps should be taken to contain the numbers of new coronavirus infections below 50,000, even when the government asked to prepare for a level of 4-5 lakh cases in a day in the next surge. The guidance alarms for the overall system to get ready, an element that the brutal second wave lagged.
As the vaccination rolls out, the group has put on record that the pandemic level is kept at a maximum of 50, 000 cases per day with non-clinical interventions like maintaining Covid appropriate behavior from maintaining social distancing to wearing masks and carefully strategised curbs.
India has been consistently maintaining a national tally of Covid-19 cases below 50,000 since June 25. On Saturday, 39, 097 cases were witnessed. According to experts, 50, 000 level does not overwhelm the health care system. However, to face 4-5 lakh cases per day, there is a need for 2 lakh ICU beds, said Empowered Group-1, headed by NITI Aayog member V K Paul recommendation. Moreover, the Covid-group is preparing for 50 lakh oxygen-enabled beds, 10 lakh Covid isolation care beds by September 2021. The existing number of beds can also meet a surge of only 2.7 lakh new cases per day.
The group has proposed 5 per cent ICU beds and 4 per cent non-ICU oxygen beds to be reserved for pediatric care in lieu of the apprehensions that the next wave can hit children as well. The peak level of 4-5 lakh cases a day means 300-370 cases per million population per day that can cause immense stress and cost to the nation, the officials said, even if the health system is well equipped.
The group, hence, aims at setting a warning level of 50,000 new Covid-19 cases a day with the recommendation that the count doesn’t go any further.
Moreover, state-wise, a maximum of 33,000 ICU beds would be required in Uttar Pradesh followed by Maharashtra (17,865), Bihar (17,480), West Bengal (14,173), and Madhya Pradesh (12,026).
On July 8, the government has also set aside Rs 23, 123 crore for this financial year to set up 20, 000 ICU beds; out of which 20 per cent will be pediatric ICU beds.
Meanwhile, the group has stressed the need for scaling up the vaccination drive and mechanism to counter hesitancy and the need for booster doses.