Pandemics Caused by New Virus Infect Humans in Multiple Waves, Govt Informs Parliament
A fisherwoman is seen at a fish market amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease in Mumbai. (Reuters)
New Delhi: Pandemics caused by a new virus have the propensity to infect human population in multiple waves and some countries which initially successfully contained the COVID-19 outbreak are now reporting a resurgence of cases, the Lok Sabha was told on Wednesday. Government of India has accordingly advised states to upgrade health infrastructure based on the case growth trajectory in respective states and districts, besides taking stringent containment measures, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey said in a written reply.
He was responding to a question on whether the government has anticipated and is ready for the second wave of COVID-19 during the winter months in India. "Pandemics caused by a new virus have the propensity to infect human population in multiple waves, each time affecting a cohort of susceptible population.
"Some countries, which had initially successfully contained the COVID-19 outbreak earlier are now reporting a resurgence of cases," the minister said in his reply. Giving details of the steps taken by the government to provide funds and medical equipment for COVID-19 care management, Choubey said states and UTs are being provided required technical and financial assistance to manage the public health challenge.
With public health and hospitals being a state subject, the primary responsibility of strengthening the healthcare system lies with respective state governments, the minister said. All the states and UTs are provided with necessary financial support under India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package.
During FY 2020-21, Rs 4256.81 crore in funds were released to states and UTs. In addition, states are being supported in terms of supply of logistics. So far 1.42, crore PPE kits, 3.45 crore N-95 masks, 10.84 crore tablets of hydroxychloroquine, 30,841 ventilators and 1,02,400 oxygen cylinders have been supplied to states, UTs and central government hospitals (as reported on September, 20), the minister said.
For appropriate management of COVID-19 cases, Government of India has advised state governments to set up three-tier arrangement of health facilities exclusively for COVID-19. These are COVID Care Centres with isolation beds for mild or pre-symptomatic cases; Dedicated COVID Health Centre (DCHC) with oxygen-supported isolation beds for moderate cases and Dedicated COVID Hospitals (DCH) with ICU beds for severe cases.
DCHCs or DCHs may be full hospitals or a separate block in a hospital with preferably separate entry/exit/zoning. In addition, the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has set up large dedicated COVID-19 field hospitals with capacity ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 isolation beds, the minister said. These temporary hospitals have been set up in Delhi, Bihar (Patna and Muzaffarpur).
All states, including Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, have accordingly taken action to create such infrastructure, Choubey said on whether the Union government has any plans to start exclusive COVID-19 treatment and care blocks in states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu where a large number of people got infected. Hospital infrastructure in the country for managing coronavirus cases is being continuously monitored by Government of India. States have been advised to prepare for requisite surge capacities to manage cases in accordance with existing and projected growth rates, he said.