Central government directs urgent action against COVID surge in some states

Health Ministry cautioned that it is especially worried with the upcoming months which is likely to witness mass gathering

Health Ministry cautioned that it is especially worried with the upcoming months which is likely to witness mass gathering

The Central government has written to Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Odisha, Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi and Karnataka governments following a steady rise in the average daily new cases of COVID-19 in the past few weeks.

In view of some changes in symptoms and clinical manifestation of the disease, it was crucial to monitor and report district-wise cases of influenza-like illness (lLl) and severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) in all health facilities as per the guidelines, the central government said.

It was vital to detect early warning signals of the spread of infection. “This will enable us to take pre-emptive action if required, in any areas of concern,” the Ministry said.

The Health Ministry said it was especially worried as the upcoming months were likely to witness mass gatherings in the context of various festivities to be held in different parts of the country.

“This will lead to a large number of individuals undertaking intra- and inter-State journeys or congregating at the same places. This may potentially facilitate transmission of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.”

“lt’s critical for the States to ensure adequate testing in all the districts while maintaining the recommended share of RT-PCR and Antigen tests. The States must also closely monitor districts reporting higher cases, positivity rates and clusters to prevent further spread of infection and effective case management,” it added.

The Center said that the challenges that should be addressed had been highlighted multiple times but the consistent increase in cases indicated the need for heightened action at the State level to contain the spread.

The States have also been requested to ensure effective compliance of these guidelines and their regular monitoring. Genome sequencing of prescribed samples of international passengers as well as collection of samples from sentinel sites (identified health facilities) and local cluster of new COVID-19 cases was equally important, said the Ministry.

The Ministry, in its communication, added that such samples must be sent promptly by the State/Union Territory to the designated lab of INSACOG network for genome sequencing. Renewed attention should be paid to ensuring appropriate behavior of COVID in crowded places such as markets, inter-state bus stands, schools, colleges, railway stations, etc’.

There was a need to promote COVID appropriate behavior through sensitization and public campaigns, with the active participation of local community leaders and other influencers.

The States have also been instructed to increase the pace of vaccination for all eligible populations and accelerate the administration of free precautionary doses to eligible populations at all government COVID vaccination centers (CVCs).

“The States should follow that five-fold strategy of test, track, treat, vaccinate and adherence to COVID appropriate behavior within the community,” said the letter.

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