New Delhi: Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday (June 28) reviewed the status of the COVID situation through a video conference (VC) with 14 states depicting a surge in cases. The Central government advised caution and continuous alertness to the states reporting a surge in COVID cases during the past few weeks, and to step up vigil against COVID. Dr Vinod Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog was also present at the review meeting. Dr V K Paul advised states that have been reporting a spike in COVID 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 9th June 2022, he stressed.
“Routine surveillance constitutes the steel frame of our COVID response and management strategy and needs continuous and unstinted attention”, he added.
The four-fold strategy highlights surveillance of incoming inter-national travelers; 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.
States were also strongly advised to strictly monitor the epidemiological profile of admitted COVID patients and report the clinical manifestation to Health Ministry, rather than 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.
Noting that the states where the increase in second and precaution COVID doses are being taken are reporting the less surge in COVID cases, they were advised to rapidly accelerate the vaccination coverage, especially of the 60+ elderly population, and second dose among the 12-17 years population group.
It was pointed out that the ongoing Har GharDastak2.0 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.
Dr Paul and Union Health Secretary both highlighted the low level of COVID testing across the states, and the 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, States were reminded to undertake Whole Genome Sequencing through the mapped labs of INSACOG network as per the Revised Surveillance Strategy of the Union Health Ministry, which has already been shared with the States.
Health Secretary urged 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.
States were advised to focus on the implementation of Covid appropriate behaviour to control the spread of infection, especially in view of the forthcoming festivals in many states.
Dr Balram Bhargava, DG, ICMR; Dr. Randip Guleria, Director AIIMS, New Delhi;Dr Manohar Agnani, AS (MoHFW); Shri Gopalakrishnan, Addl Secy (MoHFW); Dr Atul Goel, DGHS; Shri Lav Agrawal, Joint Secretary;Dr Sujeet Singh, Director, NCDC along with Principal Secretary (Health), and NHM Directors of Assam, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal and senior officials of the Health Ministry were present in the meeting.
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