Monitor emerging evidences of new Covid cases, undertake mock drills: Health Ministry to states

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Amid a slight rise in the COVID-19 infections and detection of new variant in the country, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Wednesday chaired a high level meeting to review the preparedness of health facilities and services against Covid in the states.

Underlining the challenge posed by the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in some countries across the world such as China, Brazil, Germany and United States, Union Health Minister noted the importance of being prepared and remaining alert against new and emerging strains of COVID-19, especially in view of the upcoming festive season. Underlying and reiterating that COVID is not over yet, he requested states to monitor emerging evidences of COVID-19 cases, symptoms and case severity to plan appropriate public health response.

Dr Mandaviya stressed the need for collective efforts between the Centre and the States to deal with the emerging situation in the spirit of “Whole of Government” approach. He directed for strengthening the surveillance system for whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network to ensure timely detection of newer variants, circulating in the country. This would facilitate undertaking of appropriate public health measures in a timely manner, he noted. States/UTs have been requested to ramp up testing and refer large number of samples of COVID-19 positive cases and pneumonia-like illness to INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories (IGSLs) on a daily basis, for sequencing, to track new variants, if any.

The Union Health Minister urged all the states to remain alert, increase surveillance and ensure adequate stock of medicines, oxygen cylinders and concentrators, ventilators and vaccines, He asked officials to undertake mock drills every three months at both the Central and State levels to assess functionality of PSA plants, Oxygen concentrators and cylinders, ventilators, etc., and encouraged the sharing of best practices. He also urged states to create awareness on respiratory hygiene and ensure dissemination of factually correct information and counter fake news to manage infodemic and mitigate any panic. The Union Health Minister urged States/UTs to share information on cases, tests, positivity etc., in real time on the COVID portal to enable timely monitoring and prompt public health measures. He assured the states of all support from the Centre.