In response to an increase in COVID-19 cases across the country, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to the governments of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Maharashtra, and Mizoram on Tuesday, expressing concern about the rising positivity rate and cases and urging States and Union Territories to continue monitoring the infection’s spread.
The ministry, in its official release, stated, “India has witnessed a sustained and significant decline in the number of COVID-19 cases over the past 2 months, with the country reporting about 1000 daily new cases for the past few weeks. The weekly positivity rate has remained below 1 per cent.” “Recently, there are a few States which are reporting a higher contribution to India’s cases and higher positivity. This Ministry has advised all the States/UTs to follow a risk assessment-based approach on the opening of economic and social activities without losing the gains made so far in the fight against the pandemic,” it read.
Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Maharashtra, and Mizoram are the states and union territories. The ministry recommended the states/UTs to continue monitoring the spread of illness and to take the necessary procedures for early and efficient COVID-19 treatment.
“The five-fold strategy. i.e. Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour with particular emphasis on wearing of masks in crowded areas should be followed,” the ministry said.
The ministry recommended states and territories to monitor clusters of new COVID-19 cases and implement the necessary containment measures to stop the spread of illness. Furthermore, the health ministry informed states and territories that appropriate testing in accordance with norms is essential, and that further actions must be taken in regions with a high case positive rate.
States and UTs should prioritise routine monitoring of influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) patients in all health institutions to detect early warning signs of infection transmission, according to Bhushan.
Bhushan stated that genomic sequencing for mandated samples of international travellers, collection of samples from sentinel sites (designated health facilities as well as sewage samples), and local clusters of cases must all be assured.
The ministry recommended that eligible populations be vaccinated against COVID-19, including primary immunisation and the provision of prophylactic doses.
The Health Ministry said that it is essential for States/UTs to maintain a strict watch and take pre-emptive action if required in areas of concern to control any emerging spread of infection. “Testing and Surveillance still remain important to track the virus, its spread and evolution,” Bhushan said.
The ministry pointed out that laxity at any level may nullify the gains in pandemic management so far. “Regular monitoring and prompt follow up action in emerging areas of concern is crucial. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will continue to provide requisite support to the States in this ongoing and collective effort,” the letter read.