States asked to stay alert, prepared

Amid surge in Covid cases

New Delhi, Apr 7 (PTI) Amid rising cases of coronavirus, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday held a review meeting and advised states to stay alert and be prepared for COVID-19 management.
In the meeting with state health ministers and principal and additional chief secretaries held virtually, Mandaviya stressed on identifying emergency hotspots by monitoring trends of influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) cases, ramping up testing and vaccination and ensuring readiness of hospital infrastructure.
Along with enhancing genome sequencing and ramping up whole genome sequencing of positive samples, he also emphasised on creating awareness about following Covid-appropriate behaviour.
The Centre and the states need to continue working in collaborative spirit as was done during the previous surges for COVID-19 prevention and management, Mandaviya said.
He also urged the state health ministers to conduct mock drills of all hospital infrastructure on April 10 and 11 and review the health preparedness with district administrations and health officials on April 8 and 9.
States and Union territories were further informed that currently WHO is closely tracking one variant of interest (VOI), XBB.1.5 and six other variants are under monitoring (BQ.1, BA.2.75, CH.1.1, XBB, XBF and XBB.1.16), a health ministry statement said.
It was highlighted that while Omicron and its sub-lineages continue to be the predominant variant, most of the assigned variants have little or no significant transmissibility, disease severity or immune escape. The prevalence of XBB.1.16 increased from 21.6 per cent in February to 35.8 per cent in March, 2023.
However, no evidence of an increase in hospitalisation or mortality has been reported, the statement said.
During the meeting, it was observed that 23 states and Union territories had average tests per million below the national average, according to a health ministry statement.
Mandaviya said irrespective of the new variants, the five-fold strategy of ‘Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate and adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour’ continue to remain the tested strategy for Covid management.
This would facilitate undertaking of appropriate public health measures, he said.
States and Union territories were also requested to expeditiously increase the rate of testing from the current rate of 100 tests per million, as on the week ending April 7. They were further advised to increase the share of RT-PCR in tests, the statement said.
The Union health minister advised the states and Union territories to ramp up vaccination of all eligible population, especially of the elderly and vulnerable population group.

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