April 12, 2021 5:33:02 am
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has raised some major concerns regarding the rapid upsurge of Covid-19 cases in Punjab. On the basis of inputs being received by the Centre from nine teams currently visiting nine districts of Punjab to assess the situation, their primary concerns are — contract tracing, shortage of manpower, lack of Covid care centres, dedicated hospitals in some districts, slow pace of vaccination among persons aged above 45 years (with co-morbidities) and those above 60 years and lack of Covid-appropriate behaviour.
In a letter dated April 10 to Punjab Health Secretary Hussan Lal, secretary of the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare Rajesh Bhushan has mentioned that the teams have been providing feedback on a daily basis to the state as well central government.
Shortage of manpower
“I would like to highlight the following areas of concern as noted by the central team that there is a need to enhance focus on contact tracing in Patiala and Ludhiana. Contact tracing and surveillance efforts in SAS Nagar (Mohali) are being hampered due to shortage of manpower. Additional manpower must be deployed for contact tracing on a priority basis,” Bhushan stated, adding that low rates of testing have been reported from Patiala and as reported by the team, there is no RT-PCR testing laboratory in Rupnagar.
The letter further says that there is no dedicated Covid Hospital in SAS Nagar and Rupnagar districts, and patients are being referred to neighboring districts or Chandigarh. Similarly, the team has reported lack of any Covid care centre/dedicated Covid hospital in Rupnagar district. Hospital bed occupancy rates in SAS Nagar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana are on the higher side and suitable arrangements for the same must be undertaken by the district health authorities with sufficient lead time to prepare for any surge in cases, it said.
Procurement of ventilators
Teams have also reported issues with procurement of ventilators for proper case management in SBS Nagar (Nawanshahr). ln Rupnagar, although ventilators are available, these are not being optimally utilised due to shortage of healthcare workforce, particularly doctors and nurses. Contractual hiring of healthcare workers would go a long way in addressing this.
Shortage of healthcare workforce has been reported from Patiala, SAS Nagar and Rupnagar also. The teams that visited Patiala and Ludhiana have reported a slow pace of vaccination among persons 45 years (with co-morbidities) and those above 60 years. This also needs to be addressed on priority, the ministry has said.
Teams have also reported lack of Covid-appropriate behaviour by the community and have suggested stricter ground level enforcement for the same by district authorities.
The ministry had recently deployed central teams to the most affected districts. These teams have been actively engaging with state governments in coordinating and collaborating efforts towards preparedness and response to the pandemic, actively working together with district administrations to understand the spread of Covid-19, provide support and supervision and recommend workable solutions to curb the spread. These teams have been tasked to work alongwith district health authorities on Covid-19 preparedness and response with focus on testing, contact tracing and containment operations, Covid-appropriate behaviour and its enforcement, hospital infrastructure and availability of logistic and vaccination progress etc.
The letter further said that it is requested that these suggestions may also be examined and further verified…and suitable corrective actions as warranted may be taken by the state/district administration. Union government has also taken note of issues related to vaccine availability and required action to augment the supplies based on available stock, reads the letter.
In a brief summary of key performance indicators, Mohali and Jalandhar districts are at the top with ventilators occupancy of 30 and 27.45 per cent, respectively. Jalandhar also tops with oxygen support beds with 1,420 beds followed by Ludhiana with 874 beds. Jalandhar also owns the highest number of dedicated ambulances, 139, for Covid management. Meanwhile, percentage of active cases under home isolation in the district included 82.3 per cent in Jalandhar, 88.55 per cent in Nawanshahr and 77.82 per cent in Hoshiarpur.
Almost all districts reported confirmation percentages above 5 per cent.
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