Centre reviews COVID-19 situation in 115 districts of nine States showing a surge in number of cases
New Delhi, July 20, 2022
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level meeting today to review the COVID-19 situation in 115 districts of nine States which are showing a surge in the number of new cases and a rise in test positivity rates.
The states are Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
The public health measures for surveillance, containment and management of COVID-19 were reviewed at the meeting, at which NITI Aayog Member (Health) Vinod Paul was also present.
Expressing concern regarding the surge in cases in these states in the past one month, Dr Paul reiterated, “We need to be mindful that COVID has not gone."
"Looking at the global scenario, we need to be at high alert. There is poor surveillance, poor testing and below average vaccination in many states undergoing the present surge," he said.
He urged states to improve the testing in areas with high positivity, increase surveillance as per the revised surveillance strategy and speed up COVID vaccination.
Union Health Secretary underlined the critical COVID control and management strategies as below:
All districts reporting higher positivity rate need to undertake adequate testing with higher proportion of RTPCR tests. Any laxity will result in deterioration of the situation in these districts.
There is need to effectively and strictly monitor home isolation cases so that they are not intermingling and circulating in their neighborhoods, community, village, mohalla, ward etc., and spreading the infection.
States were advised to conduct surveillance as per revised surveillance strategy issued on 9th June, 2022. They were further directed to report district-wise SARI (Severe Acute Respiratory Illness) and ILI (Influenza-like Illness) cases on a daily basis. Also, to send these for genome sequencing to mapped INSACG labs.
States were advised to undertake testing of indicated proportion of international arrivals, with genome sequencing of all positives; identify sentinel sites for INSACOG network to send samples for Whole Genome Sequencing.
States also to send positive samples from large clusters / outbreaks in the community and unusual events for Whole Genome Sequencing.
States to create added awareness regarding reporting of those who opt for home test kits through RAT, for timely identification of those cases that need clinical management. All such positive patients to be advised for home isolation to prevent infection spread in the community.
States were urged to accelerate administration of ongoing free Covid-19 vaccination for 1st, 2nd and precaution dose. States were further urged to intensify the implementation of Free Precaution Doses for 18+ population under COVID Vaccination Amrit Mahotsav till 30th September, 2022.
States were told that focused implementation of COVID Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) is critical to control the spread of infection. They were advised to create awareness within community on infection spread and on these protocols
Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS, New Delhi advised States to be attentive to clinical symptoms of COVID patients and not wait till their genome sequencing is done to identify whether a cluster is emerging in any state. States need to be attentive to the changing pattern of clinical manifestation of hospitalized patients, he stated.
It was pointed out that the average tests per million population is below the national average in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh, while the share of RT-PCR tests is very low in the states of Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam and below the national average in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and West Bengal. These states were asked to urgently address the declining trend of RT-PCR tests and improve their average daily tests per million.
It was noted that there remains substantial scope in increasing the pace of vaccination in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Assam, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. States were also exhorted to ensure strict surveillance in all the districts of concern that are showing positivity rate of over 10% in the last week.
States were reminded of Government of India’s new initiative, COVID Vaccination Amrit Mahotsav which was launched on 15th July, 2022 to provide free precaution dose at all Government Covid Vaccination Centers (CVCs). All persons aged 18 years and above who have completed 6 months or 26 weeks since the administration of 2nd dose of Covid-19 vaccine are eligible for administration of free precaution dose till 30th September, 2022.
Sunil Goel, DGHS, Gopalakrishnan, Additional Secretary (MoHFW), Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary (MoHFW) and other officials from the Ministry were present in the meeting. Principal Secretary (Health), Mission Director (NHM) and State Surveillance Officers from the states participated in the review meeting.