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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Daily cases hit new high, Centre holds meet with worst-hit states

During the meeting, a detailed presentation was made by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi | August 28, 2020 1:51:36 am
A healthcare worker collects a swab sample for an antigen test at Khopat bus stand in Thane on Thursday. (Express photo by Deepak Joshi)

As the country reported a record 75,000 new cases of novel coronavirus infections, the Cabinet Secretary, who held a review meeting Thursday with 10 states and Union territories that contribute to 73 per cent of the caseload, stressed on them to urgently reduce the high positivity rate among healthcare workers, The Indian Express has learnt.

Chief secretaries and health secretaries of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Gujarat, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir, attended the meeting with Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba. Apart from a high caseload, these states and J&K also account for 89 per cent of the Covid deaths.

During the meeting, a detailed presentation was made by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan. Sources said the Centre noted that the positivity rate among healthcare workers was “high” in at least four of the states — Maharashtra (15 per cent), Karnataka (11 per cent), West Bengal (8 per cent) and Tamil Nadu (7 per cent).

“The states were told that they are in a way risking a precious resource. The infection can spread to healthcare workers only from two sources. One, hospitals, calling into question infection control practices. Two, localities where these doctors and nurses reside, in which case states need to seriously consider making these localities containment zones,” sources said.

Data shared with the states at the meeting showed that in the last 14 days, when the country saw 13,133 casualties, 34 per cent of the deaths were reported from Maharashtra, 12 per cent from Tamil Nadu, 11 per cent from Karnataka, 10 per cent from Andhra, 7 per cent from Uttar Pradesh, and 6 per cent from Bengal.

“The six states are critical from the point of view of deaths. Also, it was highlighted that certain districts within these states are reporting high fatality,” sources said.

The states were urged to bring the mortality rate below 1 per cent, with a mention that Gujarat had registered the biggest decline in week-on-week case fatality rate (CFR) from 4.48 per cent to 3.32 per cent, followed by Madhya Pradesh (3.24 per cent to 2.29 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (2.36 per cent to 1.55 per cent). However, it was pointed out, Tamil Nadu, with a rise from 1.45 per cent to 1.72 per cent, J&K (1.79 per cent to 1.89 per cent) and Punjab (2.51 per cent to 2.61 per cent) had all seen an increase in week-on-week CFR.

Concerns were also raised about containment zones reporting active cases even after the 14-day incubation period. “This means that on day 7 or day 10, the zones saw new cases. Which means some people were left out during testing. The states have to ensure that positive cases, all close contacts are traced and tested within 72 hours,” the states were told.

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