The Centre on Thursday advised Delhi, Kerala and West Bengal, witnessing a significant rise in coronavirus cases, to gear up the testing, tracking and treatment strategy during the festive season and put an additional thrust on public awareness as well as enforcement of COVID-appropriate behaviour.
A review meeting on the status of COVID-19 infection in Delhi, West Bengal and Kerala was held by Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan in presence of V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, and ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava on Thursday, according to a Health Ministry statement.
West Bengal has registered 3,924 new cases in a day with average daily cases recording a 23 per cent increase over the last four weeks, it said. The state has 37,111 active cases, its case fatality rate stands at 1.84 per cent and the positivity rate at 8.3 per cent.
"There is one per cent increase in positivity rate over the last four weeks. Darjeeling, Nadia, Medinipur West, Jalpaiguri, Hooghly are the top districts showing an increasing trend in cases. Also, Murshidabad, Nadia, Coochbehar, Kolkata and Darjeeling have registered an increase in weekly deaths last week. The tests per million population stand at 41,261 whereas the national average is 77,220," the statement said.
The ministry said the state authorities were advised to strictly follow the 'test-track-treat' strategy and not to compromise on testing, keep the level of daily tests at a higher level with a greater proportion of RT-PCR tests.
"It was advised to ensure a proper standard of care and early identification as well as early hospitalisation of cases. It was also suggested to regularly monitor symptom development and hospitalization trend amongst patients in home isolation," it said, adding Bengal has also been told to focus on rapid contact tracing and effective isolation. COVID-19 cases in Kerala are also showing a rising trend. The state registered 98,778 cases in the last 14 days, while in a 24-hour period it recorded the maximum 8,790 instances of the infection.
"Thrissur, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, Malappuram are the top districts showing an increasing trend in coronavirus cases. The state has demonstrated better results in terms of COVID fatality. The fatality rate stood at 0.34 per cent, although there has been an increase in weekly deaths in Thrissur (133 per cent), Kollam (75 per cent), Alappuzha (31 per cent), Ernakulam (30 per cent), and Kannur (15 per cent)," the health ministry said. Noting that increase in the new cases due to festivities was a matter of grave concern, Kerala has been suggested to ramp up information, education and communication (IEC) practices and promote mask-wearing with more rigour.
"While Kerala has been monitoring contact tracing activities across borders with neighbouring districts and states, certain districts with very high positivity rates, like Malappuram, need to enforce better management," the ministry said. In Delhi, there has been nearly 46 per cent increase in the new cases over the past four weeks, and the positivity rate during the same period has escalated by nearly nine per cent.
"The rising cases were attributed to social gatherings during the festivities, deteriorating air quality, increasing incidences of respiratory disorders and clusters of positive cases at workplaces. Fatigue among frontline workers was also discussed," it said.
The national capital was advised to aggressively ramp up testing, increase RT-PCR tests, focus on contact tracing and effectively enforce isolation of the traced contacts within the first 72 hours. It was advised to focus on containment zones and strict implementation of perimeter control according to MHA guidelines. The health authorities were advised to give additional thrust to IEC practices and proactively promote wearing of masks and other COVID appropriate behaviours, the health ministry said.