The coronavirus second wave has gripped India. The country today saw 62,714 new Covid-19 infections in a day, the highest single-day rise since 16 October 2020. With this, the nationwide Covid-19 tally to 1,19,71,624, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday. Registering a steady increase for the 18th day in a row, the active cases have increased to 4,86,310. To curb Covid-19 surge in India, govt has suggested a 5-fold strategy for adoption by the States for effective containment and management of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Centre on Saturday chaired a high-level meet with 12 States and Union Territories (UTs) reporting a surge in Covid-19 cases. States and Union Territories were advised to focus on stringent containment and public health measures in 46 high burden districts.
These states are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Punjab and Bihar. Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog was also present during the review meeting.
The focus was on 46 districts that have contributed 71 per cent of the cases and 69 per cent of the deaths this month. Of a total of 36 districts in Maharashtra, 25 are most affected that account for 59.8 per cent of the cases reported in the country during the past week.
A five-fold strategy was laid out for adoption by the States and UTs for effective containment and management of the Covid pandemic.
Exponential Increase in Testing
The states were strongly advised for a significant increase of testing in all districts in line with their Positivity Rate, with an increased share of RT PCR tests, to a ratio of more than 70% of the total. Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) to be mostly deployed as a screening tool in flushing out cluster cases from densely populated areas.
Effective Isolation and Contact Tracing of those infected
Testing leading to detection of positive cases is to be followed with the prompt tracing of the close contacted and swift isolation. It was advised that an average of 30 close contacts are to be traced, tested and isolated in the first 72 hours. Health Secretary highlighted the need for effective and strict means to be employed for effective containment, with a focus on the micro-containment zone approach.
Re-invigoration of Public and Private Healthcare resources
It was re-emphasised to strengthen public and private hospital infrastructure and re-energise the Healthcare workers for the removal of complacency and fatigue. Targeted approach to reduce mortality rate and the number of deaths to be implemented. In this regard, states strictly follow the Standard National Treatment Protocol for effective clinical management of severe cases in ICUs. In this regard, it was pointed out that Punjab and Chhattisgarh despite being smaller in population size than Karnataka and Kerala, are reporting higher fatalities.
Ensuring of COVID Appropriate Behaviour (CAB)
Renewed attention to be paid to ensuring ‘COVID appropriate behaviour’ in a crowded place like markets, inter-state bus stands, schools, colleges, railway stations etc. Promotion COVID- appropriate behaviour through sensitization and public awareness campaigns with the active participation of local community leaders, religious heads of the community and other influencers.
States also advised enforcement of CAB through penal measures like heavy fines which send a strong exemplary message among the people. Muted celebrations of festivals like Holi, Shab-e-baraat and Easter with emphasis on keeping the celebrations inside the confines of the house stressed. States were informed that 70% of the cases can be controlled by adherence to CAB alone.
Targeted approach to Vaccination in districts reporting large numbers
States asked to focus on universalization of vaccination in the specified priority population age groups as an aid to containment strategy in districts where maximum cases are being reported. It was reiterated that there is no shortage of vaccines. States to optimally utilise all vaccination capacities within the public and private sectors in all districts, and make full use of the available vaccine stocks without keeping a buffer stock in anticipation of a shortage. The four GMSD depots at Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata and Karnal have the requisite buffer stocks and all requirements of States, based on their daily consumption and available stocks, are being met.
States were also asked to make the advance planning of logistics and infrastructure management for 1-1.5 months as any unchecked spread of infection among the community may overwhelm the local administration. Re-appropriation of unused vaccine stocks in a district to focus on the high burden districts was also suggested.