First time since the third week of July, Gujarat on Monday reported less than a 1,000 fresh Covid-19 cases in a day, even as the municipal corporation areas of Junagadh and Jamnagar are emerging as new hostpots, raising concerns, according to officials from the central health ministry.
At a meeting of the state health functionaries with the central ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) on Monday, several issues were flagged by the latter, including the observation about districts of Gandhinagar, Vadodara and Rajkot where half the patients who succumbed to Covid-19 died within 48 hours of detection of the infection or hospitalisation.
Presided over by Union health minister Harsh Vardhan, the meeting was attended by National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) director Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh and health secretary with the MoHFW.
Dr Singh, who gave a presentation highlighting the Covid concerns in Gujarat, said, “Our main concerns on the basis of test per million and sample positivity rate are Junagadh Municipal Corporation and Jamnagar Municipal Corporation that are emerging as hotspots and may become areas of continued transmission in future. Surat rural, Vadodara Municipal Corporation and Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation are in borderline areas… Jamnagar sees 80-100 cases a day and Junagadh sees 30-40 cases a day. Sample positivity rate is around 9.01 per cent and 7 per cent respectively… we must focus on testing here and strategise accordingly to detect cases sooner…Timing of testing is also important.”
Pointing out that fatalities have come down, Singh said, “Forty per cent of our 3,600 deaths (in Gujarat) was in the age range of 15 years to 60 years, which is an active age group (working demography)…”
He added that in Gandhinagar, Vadodara and Rajkot where 50 per cent of deaths were reported within 48 hours of detection or hospitalisation, there is a need to pay attention on surveillance or early detection to reduce fatality.
“Surat rural is seeing a case fatality rate of up to three per cent, which has to be looked into… the spread of infection in Surat’s peri-urban area is of concern… Most peri-urban areas of municipal corporation areas are affected but we need to understand the level of spread with respect to the rural areas,” added Singh.
Rajesh Bhushan, health secretary at MoHFW, said that states have to be mindful of the spread and monitor the situation closely at least for the next three months.
“It is important to retest 100 per cent of the symptomatic rapid antigen negative test samples with RTPCR tests and not a single one of them are missed out. Secondly, once a person tests positive, no time must be lost and tracking should be completed within three days. Thirdly, with the festive season, we suggest the collectors conduct a meeting with superintendent of police (in respective districts) so that in case festivities are permitted, the written permission must also include conditions related to Covid norms… with penalty mentioned…”
‘H1NI can’t be neglected’
Bhushan reminded that timely reporting of H1N1 cases to the Centre should not be affected due to Covid-19. “This is the time for seasonal influenza (swine flu or H1N1) and had Covid-19 not been there, reporting would have started and NCDC would have received the report… But we have found that some states are sending reports, while others aren’t and some others are sending incomplete reports. District surveillance officers and state surveillance officers have to be energised,” he said, directing Gujarat principal health secretary Jayanti Ravi to ensure the same with officials.
Adding a word of caution, Dr Singh said, “We have to see in Gujarat in the coming months if H1N1 is coexisting with Covid-19 or if H1N1 cases exceed that of Covid-19. As per the past five years’ data, the districts that were most affected by H1N1 in terms of cases and mortality, include Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Gandhinagar, Kutch and Rajkot.”
“Let there not be a case where a certain district is seeing a spike in seasonal influenza cases and we are not detecting them on time,” said Bhushan.
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