New Delhi: Amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the country, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya Wednesday (December 20) reviewed the preparedness of health facilities and stressed on being alert against emerging strains of coronavirus. Chairing the high-level review meeting with states, he reiterated that Covid was not over yet and requested the states to monitor emerging COVID-19 cases, symptoms and case severity to plan appropriate public health response. He assured the states of all support from the Centre and stressed the need for collective efforts between the Centre and the states to deal with the emerging situation in the spirit of the “whole-of-government” approach.
“We need to be on the alert but there is no need to panic,” the Union health minister said.
आज देश के सभी राज्यों एवं UTs के स्वास्थ्य मंत्रियों व वरिष्ठ अधिकारियों के साथ respiratory illnesses (कोविड-19 समेत) और public health संबंधित तैयारियों को लेकर समीक्षा बैठक की।
बैठक में सभी राज्यों ने स्वास्थ्य सुविधाओं के बेहतर क्रियान्वयन हेतु सकारात्मक दृष्टिकोण रखा। pic.twitter.com/rYkDCIkg2F
— Dr Mansukh Mandaviya (@mansukhmandviya) December 20, 2023
Underlining the challenge posed by the rise in Covid cases in some countries such as China, Brazil, Germany and the United States, Mr Mandaviya noted the importance of being prepared and remaining alert against new and emerging strains of COVID-19, especially ahead of the upcoming festivities.
He directed officials to strengthen the surveillance system for whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network and ensure timely detection of newer variants.
This would facilitate in taking appropriate public health measures in a timely manner, the minister noted.
At the meeting, states and UTs were requested to ramp up testing and refer a large number of Covid positive samples and that of pneumonia-like illnesses to INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories (IGSLs) daily to track new variants, if any.
Mr Mandaviya urged all states to remain alert, increase surveillance and ensure adequate stock of medicines, oxygen cylinders and concentrators, ventilators and vaccines.
He told officials to undertake mock drills every three months at both the central and state levels to assess the functionality of PSA plants, oxygen concentrators, cylinders and ventilators, and encourage the sharing of best practices.
The Union health minister asked states to raise awareness among people on respiratory hygiene and ensure the dissemination of factually correct information and counter fake news to mitigate any panic.
He urged the states to share information on cases, tests and positivity in real time on the Covid portal to enable timely monitoring and prompt public health measures.
Union Health Secretary Sudhansh Pant briefed Mr Mandaviya about the COVID-19 situation both domestically and globally.
The meeting was informed that while active Covid cases in India were significantly low compared to the global scenario, there has been a steep rise in active cases.
It was also noted that 92.8 per cent of the cases were in home isolation. There has been no increase in the hospitalisation rates due to COVID-19. The cases that are hospitalized are due to other medical conditions and COVID-19 is an incidental finding, the meeting was informed.
A rise in daily positivity rate has been observed in a few states like Kerala, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Karnataka.
On the new JN.1 variant of SARS-CoV-2, the meeting was told that the variant was under intense scientific scrutiny, but not a cause of immediate concern. No clustering of cases has been observed in India due to JN.1.
Dr V K Paul, member (Health) of NITI Aayog reiterated the need for a “whole-of-government” approach to tackle the challenges posed by the surge in Covid cases and the emergence of a new variant.
He said the scientific community in India was closely investigating the new variant but stressed the need for states to ramp up testing and strengthen their surveillance systems.
Dr Rajiv Bahl, Secretary, Department of Health Research and DG, ICMR said that ICMR was working on genome sequencing of the new JN.1 variant. He urged states to monitor the COVID-19 scenario and increase RT-PCR tests but noted that there is no cause for panic.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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