The Centre on Thursday reviewed the COVID-19 management and response strategy in nine states and one UT which contributed to 89 per cent of deaths due to the infection in the last two weeks, an official statement said. In a review meeting by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, these states and the union territory were asked to continue with rigorous vigil so as to contain the spread of infection as well as take steps to reduce fatalities.
Gauba held a video conference with the chief secretaries and health secretaries of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Gujarat, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, health ministry said in the statement. The states and the UT were advised to proactively take steps towards reducing case fatality to less than one per cent across all districts focusing on effective containment, contact tracing and surveillance.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan made a detailed presentation on the current status of COVID-19 in these states and the UT, with a focus on districts reporting high case fatality and the need to refine as well as strengthen approach and strategies relating to testing, contact tracing, surveillance, containment, home isolation, availability of ambulances, hospital beds, oxygen and treatment protocols.
"It was observed that out of the total deaths in the country in the last two weeks, 89 per cent of deaths are in these nine states and one UT," the statement said.
They were also advised to ensure that at least in 80 per cent of fresh COVID-19 cases, all close contacts be traced and tested with 72 hours and a minimum of 140 tests per million per day be done in all districts while targeting a positivity/confirmation rate of less than 5 per cent, it said. They were asked to leverage on antigen tests in containment zones, healthcare settings and retesting of all symptomatic negatives with RT-PCR. Regular monitoring of home isolation patients (tele-calling and home visits) and ensuring timely admission to healthcare facilities if SpO2 (blood oxygen level) falls below the designated level was also stressed, the statement said.
The nine states and the UT were also asked to put in public domain the availability of beds and ambulances across COVID facilities while significantly reducing ambulance response time. Saving lives by effective clinical management of all cases and monitoring week-wise fatality rates for each health facility with particular focus on vulnerable patients (comorbid, patients above 60 years of age) was emphasised.
Upgrading COVID facilities based on caseload and monitoring availability and usage of necessary drugs, masks and PPE kits in all facilities was also impressed upon. Focus on Behavioral Change Communication promoting COVID appropriate behavior consisting of social distancing, wearing of masks, hand hygiene and cough etiquettes was highlighted, the statement said. The chief secretaries explained about the current situation in the states/UT and their preparedness to tackle the spread of COVID-19, health infrastructure available to meet the challenge and steps taken to strengthen it further.
The states and the UT also highlighted steps taken towards reducing case fatality as well as involving community in terms of COVID-19 safe behaviour. A record 75,760 infections were added in a day taking the total coronavirus caseload to 33,10,234 in the country. The death toll climbed to 60,472 with 1,023 fatalities being reported in 24 hours, the health ministry data updated at 8 am on Thursday showed.