THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The health department is set for a major overhaul in its prevention and control activities. The first and foremost is finding the root cause of the big spike in cases due to contact. The department will also take a call soon on setting up health posts in cluster areas and allowing private labs to conduct antigen tests. Another priority is minimising the time lag between testing and intimation of results to the officials concerned.
“The surge in cases due to contact with previously infected persons is a concern. One reason might be the poor execution of break the chain strategy. Another might be the failure of the health system as a whole. Before the situation gets even worse, a conclusive finding will have to be arrived at,” said a health department official.
At the same time, in the high-level Covid-19 assessment meeting convened last Saturday, the chief minister himself had directed the health department and medical education department to figure out the reasons behind the surge in contact cases.
During the meeting, Covid-19 expert committee chairman B Ekbal stressed the need for finding the reasons for the sudden spurt in contact cases. According to him, it will have to be checked whether the source of infection is within the household or due to the arrival of someone in the particular house or because of other reasons. Finding this out is paramount to make necessary changes in the break the chain strategy, if needed.
Lack of coordination
The inadequate coordination in sample testing, entry of results and announcement of the results is another issue the department plans to resolve urgently. The chief minister himself had raised this issue at the meeting. “Sample collection and its testing are progressing at a good pace in the state, but there are some issues in processing test results on time and announcement of the results. On some occasions, test results had missed the 24-hour deadline. One reason the meeting zeroed in on was the lack of coordination in the testing process at labs. The meeting then decided to appoint a nodal officer at the state level for coordinating this process,” the official added.
Antigen tests at private labs
Another proposal under consideration is setting up health posts in cluster areas. Through this, the department aims to ensure health services including basic healthcare and preventive medication through primary health posts, thereby reducing chances of mingling of people from that particular area with others. The government has also been asked to think about allowing antigen tests at private labs and fix the rate for the same. Both proposals were made by health principal secretary Rajan Khobragade.