Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan reviewed the COVID situation on Tuesday through video conference (VC) with 14 states exhibiting an increase in cases.
The Central Government recommended states reporting an increase in COVID cases in recent weeks to exercise care and be vigilant against COVID. Dr Vinod Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, attended the review meeting as well.
Dr. V K Paul warned states that have seen an increase in COVID cases to be wary of the looming pandemic.
“The main action point is to focus on enhancing proactive surveillance in accordance with the Revised Surveillance Strategy announced by the Union Health Ministry on June 9th, 2022,” he said.
“Routine surveillance is the steel frame of our COVID response and management plan, and it requires constant and unwavering attention,” he continued.
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The four-pronged plan focuses on arriving international passengers, community-based monitoring, sentinel site surveillance (health facility and lab-based surveillance), and Whole Genome Sequencing. States were asked to scan for and report all SARI and ILI cases from all district hospitals, large private hospitals, and medical colleges in their districts, as well as to keep a careful eye on the geographies where these clusters are developing.
States asked to monitor Covid hospitalisations
States were also strongly instructed to rigorously monitor the epidemiological profile of hospitalised COVID patients and report clinical manifestations to the Health Ministry, rather than reporting on a haphazard or anecdotal basis. This will aid in identifying any out-of-the-ordinary or unusual clinical presentation of the patients at an early stage.
Noting that states with a spike in second and precautionary COVID doses are reporting a lower increase in COVID cases, they were encouraged to swiftly accelerate vaccination coverage, particularly among the 60+ old population and the second dosage among the 12-17 year demographic group.
It was said that the current Har GharDastak2.0 campaign required a significant push to increase COVID vaccination adoption.
To emphasise that there was no scarcity of COVID vaccinations, states were encouraged to guarantee that vaccines that were about to expire were provided first, preventing any waste of a valuable national resource.
Dr. Paul and Union Health Secretary both emphasised the low level of COVID testing across states, as well as the decline in RTPCR share. States were encouraged to focus on strategic testing of fever clinic patients, SARI and ILI patients, as well as new clusters and geographies in all districts reporting greater positive, rather than a narrow and broad testing spectrum.
Furthermore, states were reminded to conduct Whole Genome Sequencing through the mapping labs of the INSACOG network in accordance with the Union Health Ministry’s Revised Surveillance Strategy, which has already been communicated with the states.
The Health Secretary urged states to expedite the processing of claims under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: Insurance Scheme for Health Workers Fighting COVID-19′ to ensure that insurance dues are paid to those public healthcare providers, including community health workers, who died as a result of Covid.
States were recommended to focus on implementing Covid appropriate behaviour to minimise the transmission of illness, especially with several states’ upcoming festivals.