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Health minister advises states to strengthen ‘surveillance system, testing, hospital infrastructure’

New Delhi: In view of rising Covid cases globally, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday said that the Centre and states need to work in “tandem” and in a “collaborative spirit” as was done during the previous surges.

In a virtual meeting with the health ministers of the states, Principal Secretaries, Additional Chief Secretaries and Information Commissioners, the health minister said that the country needs to be on the alert and be fully prepared for COVID management.

The virtual meeting was held in the presence of Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, Union Minister of State for Health and Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog to review the public health preparedness for containment and management of COVID-19 and progress of national COVID-19 vaccination campaign in view of the recent upsurge in cases in some countries like China, Japan, Brazil and the United States, as per official statement.

Referring to PM Modi’s message from the high-level review meeting held yesterday, Mandaviya asked to be on the alert and keep all preparedness for COVID19 management.

“States were requested to continue with a pre-emptive and proactive approach,” the statement said.

Strengthen surveillance system for whole genome sequencing

The minister urged the states to strengthen the surveillance system for whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network to ensure timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country.

“Focus is to be given to health facility-based sentinel surveillance; pan-respiratory virus surveillance; community-based surveillance; and sewage/wastewater surveillance.” He highlighted the “Need to collectively reinvigorate the system & remove any sense of complacency and fatigue”.

The minister said that irrespective of the new COVID variants, ‘Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate & Adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour’ continue to remain the tested strategy for COVID management. This would facilitate undertaking of appropriate public health measures.

States/UTs requested to expeditiously increase the rate of testing

States and Union Territories were also requested to expeditiously increase the rate of testing from the current rate of 79 tests per million, as of the week ending December 22.

They were further advised to increase the share of RT-PCR in tests.

“Union Health Minister advised States/UTs to ramp up vaccination of all eligible populations, especially of the elderly and vulnerable population group. He cautioned against spreading of misinformation by ensuring dissemination of factually correct information in a timely manner,” the statement said.

In view of the upcoming festive season, Manadaviya stressed the importance of public awareness campaigns regarding adherence to Covid’s appropriate behaviour.

Personally monitor health infra: Mandaviya asks state health min

Mandaviya asked the state Health Ministers to personally monitor and review the preparedness of all infrastructure and ensure adequate stock of essential medicines.

Notably, Union Health Ministry has already issued “Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in context of COVID-19” in June 2022 which calls for early detection, isolation, testing and timely management of suspected and confirmed cases to detect and contain outbreaks of new SARS-CoV-2 variants.

“There was a comprehensive and detailed discussion on various aspects of COVID management including ramping up of hospital infrastructure; increased testing,” the statement further stated.

States appreciated the timely review meetings chaired by the Prime Minister and the Union Health Minister and advisories from the Union Health Ministry.

As per the official, appreciating the Centre for the timely response to the surge of COVID cases, the ministers of the states assured that they would work with the Centre for effective prevention and management of COVID-19 and will also hold mock drills for the readiness of hospital infrastructure on December 27.

Puducherry Chief Minister N Rangaswamy, CM and Health Minister of Tripura Manik Saha, Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha, Rajasthan Health Minister Parsadi Lal Meena, Uttarakhand Health Minister Dhan Singh Rawat were amongst other states ministers who were present in the meeting.

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