Union Health Minister advises states to strictly adhere to Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate protocol

The Union Health Minister also urged states to be alert and ready for COVID-19 management


HYDERABAD: The Union Health Ministry issued guidelines on Saturday in the aftermath of the holiday and new year season, asking states to ensure that people wear masks, use sanitizers, and maintain social distance, as well as increasing awareness for precautionary doses in light of the COVID-19 surge.

Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, said during his virtual interaction with State Health Ministers, Principal Secretaries, Additional Chief Secretaries, and Information Commissioners that the Center and States need to work together as they did during the previous surges for COVID-19 prevention and management.

The Union Health Minister also urged states to be alert and ready for COVID-19 management. States were asked to maintain their proactive and preemptive approach. He urged states to strengthen their surveillance systems for whole genome sequencing of positive case samples in order to track variants through the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network and ensure timely detection of any newer variants circulating in the country, if any.

He said that health facility-based sentinel surveillance, pan-respiratory virus surveillance, community-based surveillance, and sewage and wastewater surveillance must all be prioritised. He highlighted the need to collectively reinvigorate the system and remove any sense of complacency and fatigue.

Dr. Mandaviya said that regardless of the new COVID variants, the "Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate" and adherence to COVID appropriate behavior strategies for COVID management remains the tried and true method. This would make it easier to implement appropriate public health measures, he said.

States and UTs were also asked to quickly increase testing rates from the current rate of 79 tests per million as of the week ending December 22, 2022. They were also advised to increase the proportion of RT-PCR in tests.

The Union Health Minister advised states and union territories (UTs) to increase vaccination of all eligible populations, particularly the elderly and vulnerable. He warned against the spread of misinformation by ensuring the timely dissemination of factually correct information. In light of the upcoming holiday season, he emphasised the importance of public awareness campaigns promoting COVID-appropriate behaviour.

Dr. Mandaviya requested that the state health ministers personally monitor and review the readiness of all infrastructure as well as ensure an adequate stock of essential medicines.

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