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Test, Track, Vaccinate More: Centre Tells 8 States, UTs with High Covid Cases; Teams Rushed to Maha, Punjab

A boy walks past a graffiti amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease in Navi Mumbai. (REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas)

A boy walks past a graffiti amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease in Navi Mumbai. (REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas)

The states were also asked to improve overall testing in districts.

The government on Saturday asked eight states, union territories reporting a high active Covid-19 caseload to continue with the strategy of “test, track and treat” which it said had yielded results at the height of the pandemic.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, and NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr Vinod Paul, interacted with Health Secretaries and MDs (NHM) of Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and UTs of Delhi and Chandigarh. They reviewed surveillance, containment, and Covid-19 response as recently these states/UTs have reported increased Covid-19 positivity and a rising number of daily cases.

The Centre also asked the concerned authorities to pay attention to prompt isolation and medical supervision of active cases in home isolation, and to watch out for super-spreading events.

The government said that 9 districts in Delhi, 15 in Haryana, 10 in Andhra Pradesh, 10 in Odisha, 9 in Himachal Pradesh, 7 in Uttarakhand, 2 in Goa, 1 in Chandigarh were seeing a decrease in total tests being conducted; low share of RT-PCR tests; increase in weekly positivity and the low number of contact tracing of the Covid-19 positive cases. It was determined that this could pose a high risk of transmission to the neighbouring states and UTs.

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These are among the measures the states/UTs were directed to take:

• Continue with the strategy of ‘Test Track and Treat’.

• Improve overall testing in districts reporting a reduction in testing

• Increase share of RT-PCR tests in districts dependent on high levels of antigen testing.

• Refocus on surveillance and stringent containment of those areas in selected districts that are seeing a cluster of cases.

• Carry out an average close contact tracing of a minimum of 20 persons per positive case.

• Focus on clinical management in districts reporting higher deaths.

• Actuate their health infrastructure to provide effective clinical management to all the patients as a surge in cases also affects the case fatality rate in those districts.

• Accelerate vaccination for priority population groups in districts reporting higher cases.

• Make optimal use of the available vaccine doses and focus on critical districts.

• To collaborate with the private hospitals to open up vaccination time-table for a minimum of 15 days and maximum of 28 days at a time.

• Promote COVID-appropriate behaviour through communication and enforcement.

The Centre also asked the concerned authorities to pay attention to prompt isolation and medical supervision of active cases in home isolation, and to watch out for super-spreading events.

Meanwhile, the government rushed high-level multi-disciplinary public health teams to Maharashtra and Punjab given the increase in the number of daily COVID-19 cases being reported by the states. The teams are being deployed to assist State Health Departments in coronavirus surveillance, control, and containment measures, the Union health ministry said.

The high-level team to Maharashtra will be led by P Ravindran, Sr CMO, Disaster Management Cell, MOHFW. While the public health team to Punjab will be led by S K Singh, Director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), New Delhi, it said. The teams will visit the (COVID-19) hotspot areas in the states and ascertain reasons for the surge in cases, the ministry said.

According to the ministry data, there are 6,661 active coronavirus cases in Punjab and 90,055 cases in Maharashtra. They will also brief the chief secretary/secretary (health) on their observations and remedial measures to be undertaken by the respective state health authorities.

The Union government has been leading the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic with a Whole of Government’ and Whole of Society’ approach under the umbrella strategy of Cooperative Federalism’, the ministry said. As ongoing efforts to strengthen the initiatives of various state and Union territory (UT) governments for COVID management, the government has been deputing central teams from time to time to visit various states/UTs.

These teams interact with the state and UT authorities and get a first-hand understanding of the challenges and issues being faced by them to strengthen their ongoing activities and remove bottlenecks if any. The reports of central teams are shared with the states for further follow-up action, it added.

(With inputs from PTI)