NEW DELHI: As 14 states, including Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka and Telangana, are reporting a spike in Covid-19 cases on a weekly basis, along with a high positivity rate, conducting less testing and below-average vaccination, the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday advised them to continue to be alert and step-up their vigil.
In the virtual review meeting, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan strongly advised them to monitor the epidemiological profile of admitted Covid-19 patients strictly and report the clinical manifestation to the ministry, rather than random or anecdotal reporting, a statement issued said.
“This will help to identify at an early stage any out-of-the-ordinary or different clinical presentation of the patients,” it added.
Noting that the uptake in second and precaution doses in many states reporting the present surge was low, they were advised to rapidly accelerate the vaccination coverage, especially for the elderly population, and second dose among the 12-17 age group.
Underscoring that there was no shortage of Covid-19 vaccines, states were advised to ensure that vaccines that expire first are administered first to prevent any wastage.
Since June 1, many states, which have now expanded to 14, have been reporting a spike in Covid cases. The other states that were part of the virtual meet included Assam, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
In the meeting, the low level of Covid-19 testing was highlighted as also the drop in RTPCR share.
Instead of a thin and broad testing spectrum, states were advised to focus on strategic testing of patients coming to fever clinics and patients of influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) along with new clusters and geographies in all districts reporting higher positivity, the statement said.
The health secretary also urged states to ensure that claims under ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: Insurance Scheme for Health Workers Fighting COVID-19' were expeditiously processed to ensure that insurance dues are paid to those public healthcare providers, including community health workers, who have died due to Covid.
In the meeting, Dr Vinod Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, advised the states to watch the emerging pandemic situation.
“Routine surveillance constitutes the steel frame of our Covid response and management strategy and needs continuous and unstinted attention,” he said.