Amid the surge of Covid and Omicron variant cases in five districts of Maharashtra, the centre on Thursday has written to the health secretary of the state directing them to take measures as there has been an increase in Covid cases and lessening of doubling time.
They have also been asked to enhance testing, strengthen hospital-level preparedness, increase the pace and coverage of vaccination. Moreover, the state has to enhance the testing in a focused manner by maintaining the ratio between RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). Health officials from the state health department said they have directed all the district health officers to start preparing to handle the possible third wave of covid and to increase the pace of vaccination drive in all districts.
“States were also advised to undertake enhanced surveillance of international travellers, continued monitoring of emerging hotspots, contact tracing of positive individuals & follow up for 14 days, sending all positive samples for genome sequencing, early identification of cases through adequate testing, review of health infrastructure preparedness (including in rural areas and for paediatric cases), and most importantly to focus on enforcement of Covid Appropriate Behaviour, IEC & community sensitization,” reads a letter issued by Rajesh Bhusan, Union Health Secretary on Thursday.
Bhusan also asked the state to control the spread of infection further and detect early cases in each district if they do not want covid mortality to increase. “The districts of Mumbai, Mumbai Suburban, Pune, Thane and Nagpur have reported a sudden and significant surge in cases in the last two weeks. This issue needs to be addressed proactively and immediately to ensure that neither the transmission spreads further nor do we reach a situation of increased mortality due to late detection of the cases,” he said.
Senior health officials said they have been asked to enhance testing, strengthen hospital-level preparedness, increase the pace and coverage of vaccination. Moreover, they have been advised to go for proactive contact tracing and isolation and quarantine of the contacts of positive cases, their testing and follow up.
“We have also placed orders to ensure enough stock of eight medicines commonly used for Covid-19 patients, including repurposed drugs such as Remdesivir and Tocilizumab, steroids, anticoagulants, and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), among others.
The state had also made a budgetary provision to procure monoclonal antibodies that have been found effective in patients with mild to moderate symptoms. However, the plan has been put on hold as the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is yet to include the cocktail therapy in its treatment protocol,” said a senior health officer.
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