In the wake of a large increase in Covid-19 cases across the country, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has written to all state and UT chief secretaries, urging them to take steps to prepare for a possible COVID outbreak.
In a letter issued to the states and UTs, Bhushan said in the context of the spread of variant of concern, Omicron, the world is currently reporting the highest ever surge in Covid-19 cases.
“In India, the case trajectory is also showcasing an upward trend with 16,764 cases reported on December 31, highest ever single day rise in past 70 days. Many developed nations in Europe and Americas are reporting a significant rise in new cases in the past weeks, which indicates high transmissibility of the virus,” Bhushan wrote.
Bhushan has advises states and UTs to start the process of setting up makeshift hospitals and constitute special teams to monitor patients in home isolation.
He said to address a potential surge in cases, with a view to ensure preparedness, “states are advised to initiate creation of field or makeshift hospitals”. This, he said, can be done with “coordination with DRDO and CSIR as well as the private sector, corporations, NGOs, etc,” he said.
“It is imperative to re-emphasise the significance of timely and swift upgradation of health infrastructure in all states and UTs,” he said. Bhushan said this becomes all the more important since with the sudden increase in cases, the country may start seeing a stressed health infrastructure.
As per Bhushan, states and UTs have already been advised to ensure health system preparedness by utilising the existing ECRP-II budget under different components (for creation of additional isolation beds and field hospitals, ICU beds, paediatric excellence centres, availability of oxygen, ambulances, drugs and diagnostics, human resources and tele-consolation platforms) at the earliest.
He also said a large number of cases may be eligible for home isolation. “ These cases would require effective follow-up and a clearly defined mechanism for prompt shifting to a health facility in case of deterioration in their health situation,” wrote Bhushan.
He said it is particularly important that all states should monitor their home isolation protocol and its actual implementation at the field level.
“Special teams be consulted to monitor all home isolation cases, call centres or control rooms must aid outbound calling for monitoring such patients and ensuring that all such cases can be shifted to an appropriate health facility though dedicated ambulances,” Bhushan wrote.