The Centre, on Friday, advised the states to ramp up vaccination of all eligible populations, especially of the elderly and vulnerable groups, against the backdrop of a spurt in Covid cases in certain countries.
Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya also cautioned the states against the misinformation being spread with regard to Covid and to ensure the dissemination of factually correct information in a timely manner.
In view of the upcoming festive season, he stressed on the importance of public awareness campaigns regarding adherence to Covid Appropriate Behaviour.
“The Centre and the states need to work in tandem and in a collaborative spirit as was done during the previous surges for Covid-19 prevention and management,” Mandaviya said as he virtually interacted with state health ministers and principal secretaries/additional chief secretaries and information commissioners.
The virtual meeting was also attended by Union Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar and Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog to review the public health preparedness for containment and management of Covid-19 and the progress of the national Covid vaccination campaign in view of the recent upsurge in cases in countries like China, Japan, Brazil and the United States.
Mandaviya referred to the message of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the high-level review meeting held yesterday and advised the states to be on the alert and maintain full preparedness for Covid management.
The states were requested to continue with pre-emptive and proactive approaches. The minister also urged them to strengthen the surveillance system for whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network to ensure timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country.
The focus must be given to health facility-based sentinel surveillance; pan-respiratory virus surveillance; community-based surveillance; and sewage/wastewater surveillance. He highlighted the “need to collectively reinvigorate the system and remove any sense of complacency and fatigue”.
Mandaviya said that irrespective of the new Covid variants, ‘Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate & 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. The states were also requested to expeditiously increase the rate of testing from the current rate of 79 tests per million, as of the week ending 22 December. They were further advised to increase the share of RT-PCR in tests.
He requested the state health ministers to personally monitor and review the preparedness of all infrastructure and ensure there was adequate stock of essential medicines.
The states were briefed on the global Covid situation and the domestic scenario. They were reminded that the Union Health Ministry has already issued “Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in context of Covid-19” in June which calls for early detection, isolation, testing and timely management of suspected and confirmed cases to detect and contain outbreaks of new SARS-CoV-2 variants. The Union minister also urged the states to ensure effective implementation of the same.
There was a comprehensive and detailed discussion on various aspects of Covid management, including ramping up hospital infrastructure and increasing testing.