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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

NITI Aayog meet on covid surge in Punjab: ‘Refocus on house-to-house surveillance to identify active cases, timely testing’

They were also advised to instruct all district officers and the local administration to ensure prompt contact tracing and swift isolation so as to break the chain of transmission, identify clusters, focus stringent implementation of micro-containment zone approach.

By: Express News Service | Ludhiana |
Updated: April 1, 2021 4:56:34 am
NITI Aayog, Dr V K Paul held a high-level meeting Wednesday to review Covid-19 status in Punjab and Chandigarh. (File)

Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan and member (health), NITI Aayog, Dr V K Paul held a high-level meeting Wednesday to review Covid-19 status in Punjab and Chandigarh. Punjab and Chandigarh health officials were advised to — as part of a ‘test, track, treat and vaccinate’ strategy — refocus on effective house-to-house surveillance to identify active cases with focus on timely testing.

They were also advised to instruct all district officers and the local administration to ensure prompt contact tracing and swift isolation so as to break the chain of transmission, identify clusters, focus stringent implementation of micro-containment zone approach.

The Union health ministry said increased testing, effective contact tracing, strict containment, intensification of vaccination drive, and enforcement of physical distancing measures should be focused on.

Principal secretary (Health), mission director (NHM), state surveillance officer of Punjab and Chandigarh and all district collectors/district magistrates/municipal commissioners of districts in Punjab participated in the review meeting. Dr Balram Bhargava, DG ICMR and Dr (Prof) Sunil Kumar, DGHS, MoHFW were also present.

The Union ministry said Punjab has reported nearly 21 per cent of the week-on-week increase in new Covid cases and around 2,740 average daily cases in the last seven days. During the same time period, the state has also seen a 30 per cent week-on-week increase in new Covid deaths and is reporting an average of 53 daily deaths.

Chandigarh has also followed a similar pattern in the last week. The UT has reported nearly 27 per cent week-on-week increase in new cases and 180 per cent week-on-week increase in new daily deaths. An average of around 257 daily cases and 14 daily deaths have been reported during the last week.

Through a detailed presentation, a granular analysis of the highly affected districts in Punjab and Chandigarh alongwith some key statistics was presented. Dr Paul re-emphasised the importance of stringent and continued measures to break the chain of transmission and not fritter away the gains of collaborative efforts of last year. Increased testing with focus on RT-PCR tests, effective contact tracing with at least 25-30 close contacts of each positive case, strict implementation of containment zones, intensification of vaccination drive, and enforcement of physical distancing measures were highlighted as the pivot of effective management strategy. It was also re-emphasised to strengthen public and private hospital infrastructure and re-energise the healthcare workers for removal of any complacency and fatigue.

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Testing

On the front of testing, the state and the UT were asked to effectively implement the ‘test, track and treat’ strategy to escalate testing till the positivity comes down to below 5 per cent, significantly increase testing in all districts with a minimum of 70 per cent RT-PCR tests and use of Rapid Antigen Tests as screening tests in densely populated areas as well as areas where cluster of cases are reported and to mandatorily subject those who have tested negative in Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) to RT-PCR test.

Vaccination

The state and UT were advised to ensure priority vaccination of the eligible population groups in districts reporting higher cases, transfer of unused vaccine doses from one district to another for optimum utilisation of available vaccine doses, to ensure no sedimentation of vaccine takes place at any level of cold chain storage and maximum utilisation of vaccination capacity in the public and private sector health facilities.

Union health officials added that there was no shortage of vaccination at the state/UT level. The Centre is regularly reviewing vaccine stock, and vaccine doses will be continually replenished by the Centre based on the consumption level of the states/UTs.

The principal secretaries (Health) of Punjab and Chandigarh along with DCs of the highly affected districts such as Amritsar, Ludhiana, SBS Nagar, and Jalandhar shared their feedback on the activities being undertaken in the districts to break the chain of transmission; preparation of hospital infrastructure; clinical treatment protocols in hospitals to reduce mortality; and awareness campaigns.

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