Centre alerts states on spurt in COVID-19 cases, to hold mock-drill in April
A nationwide mock-drill would be conducted on April 10 and 11, 2023 to assess the hospital preparedness like drugs, beds, medical equipment, oxygen and human resources
NEW DELHI: In a fresh alert, the Union Government observed a mild spurt in COVID-19 cases in the country and asked the states and union territories to undertake re-orientation of frontline health workers to enable early diagnosis and effective treatment. In an advisory, the Centre has identified Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as the states where a significant number of COVID-19 cases are being reported.
In an advisory released to the states and the union territories, the Union Health Ministry said that a nationwide mock-drill would be conducted on April 10 and 11, 2023 to assess the hospital preparedness like drugs, beds, medical equipment, oxygen and human resources.
“A gradual but sustained increase in the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in the country is being witnessed since mid-February 2023. As on date, most of the active COVID-19 cases in the country are largely being reported by a few States like Kerala (26.4 percent), Maharashtra (21.7 percent), Gujarat (13.9 percent), Karnataka (8.6 percent) and Tamil Nadu (6.3 percent). While the rates of hospitalization and death due to the disease remains low, largely because of the significant coverage achieved in terms of COVID-19 vaccination rates by all States/UTs, this gradual rise in cases needs reinvigorated public health actions to contain the surge,” the Centre said.
The Union Government has asked the States/UTs to keep a close watch on the evolving etiologies (causes of diseases) of ‘influenza-like Illness (lLl) and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) cases. “lndia usually sees a seasonal rise in influenza cases from January to March and again from August to October. Presently, the most prominent subtypes of influenza in the Country seem to be influenza A (H1Nl ) and influenza A (H3N2),” it said.
The Centre cautioned the States/UTs that COVID-19 and influenza share a number of similarities in terms of mode of transmission, high-risk population, clinical signs and symptoms. “This may present a clinical dilemma for the attending doctors in terms of diagnosis. But it also renders both these diseases easily preventable by following simple public health measures like avoiding overcrowded and poorly ventilated settings, using handkerchief/tissue while sneezing or coughing, wearing a mask in crowded and closed settings, maintaining hand hygiene, avoiding spitting in public places,” it said.
As part of its guidelines, it asked the States/UTs to undertake re-orientation of frontline health workers on epidemiological case definitions to help early diagnosis and prompt treatment. “ln order to limit transmission of these diseases, it is important to raise community awareness regarding adherence to respiratory and hand hygiene,” it said.
The Union health ministry advisory listed out the following safeguards to prevent the spread of influenza and COVID-19:
♦ Avoiding overcrowded and poorly ventilated settings, particularly by co-morbid persons and the elderly.
♦ Wearing of masks by doctors, paramedics and other healthcare workers as well as patients and their attendants within healthcare facilities.
♦ Wearing of masks in crowded and closed settings
♦ Using handkerchief/tissue to cover nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing
♦ Maintaining hand hygiene/frequent washing of hands
♦ Avoiding spitting in public places
♦ Promoting testing and early reporting of symptoms
♦ Limiting personal contact if suffering from respiratory diseases
In addition, the Centre also advised the states/UTs to take a stock of hospital preparedness including drugs, beds (including lCU beds), medical equipment, medical oxygen and capacity building of human resource on existing guidelines as well as vaccination coverage. For this purpose, a nationwide mock drill is being planned on April 10 and 11, 2023, wherein health facilities (both public and private) from all districts are expected to participate. The exact details of the mock-drill will be communicated to the states during the virtual meeting scheduled on March 27, 2023.
The Union Health Ministry has already issued and widely disseminated technical guidelines for seasonal influenza (https://main.mohfw.oov.in/basicpaqe/technical-guidelines) which have also been made available on its website (https://mohfw.oov.in).