Centre issues fresh advisory on Covid-19: Mock drills on April 10, 11 to check hospital readiness

The advisory said that a “gradual but sustained increase in the trajectory of Covid-19 cases in the country is being witnessed since mid-February 2023.”

Published: 25th March 2023 11:02 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th March 2023 11:02 PM   |  A+A-

PM Narendra Modi chairs a COVID-19 review meeting amid rise in cases, in New Delhi, March. 22, 2023. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Saturday issued a fresh advisory to states and union territories and asked them to step up testing as there is a “sustained increase” in Covid-19 cases in the country.

In a joint advisory issued by Dr Rajiv Bahl, Secretary, Department of Health Research and DG Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary, said the government plans to hold a nationwide mock drill on April 10 and 11 to check the Covid-19 readiness of all hospitals across the country.

Health facilities, both public and private, from all districts are expected to participate in the exercise.

The exact details of the mock drill will be communicated to the states in the virtual meeting scheduled on March 27. 

The advisory said that a “gradual but sustained increase in the trajectory of Covid-19 cases in the country is being witnessed since mid-February 2023.”

The letter said that most of the active cases in the country are largely being reported by states like Kerala (26.4 percent), Maharashtra (21.7 percent), and Gujarat (13.9 percent), Karnataka (8.6 percent) and Tamil Nadu (6.3 percent).

While the rates of hospitalisation and death due to the disease remain low, largely because of the significant coverage achieved in terms of Covid-19 vaccination rates by all states and UTs, this gradual rise in cases needs reinvigorated public health actions to contain the surge, it said.

The advisory said that in the past several weeks, in some states Covid-19 testing has declined and the current testing levels are insufficient as compared to the standards prescribed by WHO i.e 140 tests/million.

The letter also asked states and UTs to keep a close watch on the evolving etiologies (causes of diseases) of Influenza like Illness (ILI), especially H1N1 and H3N2, and severe active respiratory illness (SARI) cases.

The states were also directed to take stock of hospital preparedness including drugs, beds, including ICU beds, medical equipment, medical oxygen, capacity building of human resource on existing guidelines as well as vaccination coverage.

On Covid-19 testing, the advisory said, “Testing at the level of districts and blocks also varies, with some states heavily relying on the less sensitive rapid antigen tests.”

“Hence it is critical to maintain optimum testing for Covid-19, equitably distributed (with suitable modifications to address the emergence of a new cluster of Covid cases) across the States. This is especially important to identify any emerging hotspots & take pre-emptive steps to curb virus transmission,” the letter said.

The states were cautioned that both Covid-19 and Influenza share a number of similarities in terms of mode of transmission, high-risk population, clinical signs and symptoms.

“While this may present a clinical dilemma for the attending doctors in terms of diagnosis, this also renders both these diseases easily preventable by following simple public health measures like avoiding overcrowding and poorly ventilated settings, using handkerchiefs/tissue while sneezing or coughing, wearing mask in crowded and closed settings, maintaining hand hygiene, avoiding spitting in public places etc.

On March 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had held a high-level meeting to review Covid-19 and Influenza situation as cases soared. He had directed officials to conduct mock drills to ensure that hospitals are prepared for all emergencies.

A total of 1,161 cases of H3N2 have been reported from January 1 to March 20, 2023, the parliament was informed.

The maximum cases were reported in Delhi at 370, followed by Rajasthan (180) and Karnataka (134).


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