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Centre calls upon States reporting surge in COVID cases to step up vigil; advises Caution, Alertness

The Centre has advised caution and continuous alertness to States reporting a surge in COVID cases during the past few weeks, and to step up vigil against COVID. Shri Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary reviewed the status of COVID situation through a video conference (VC) with 14 such States that are reporting high number of cases on a week-to-week basis along with increased case positivity combined with low numbers of COVID tests and below average COVID vaccination. Dr Vinod Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog was also present at the review meeting.

Dr V K Paul advised states that have been reporting spike in COVID cases to be watchful of the emerging pandemic situation. “The major action point is to focus on strengthening proactive surveillance as per the Revised Surveillance Strategy issued by Union Health Ministry on 9th June 2022”, he stressed. “Routine surveillance constitutes the steel frame of our COVID response and management strategy and needs continuous and unstinted attention”, he said. The four-fold strategy highlights surveillance of incoming inter-national travelers; community-based surveillance; sentinel site surveillance (health facility-based surveillance and lab-based surveillance); and Whole Genome Sequencing. States were advised to scan for and report all SARI and ILI cases from all district hospitals, major private hospitals and medical colleges across the districts, and keep a close watch on those geographies where these clusters are emerging.

The surveillance strategy can be accessed at:

(https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/OperationalGuidelinesforRevisedSurveillanceStrategyincontextofCOVID-19.pdf )

States were also strongly advised to strictly monitor epidemiological profile of admitted COVID patients and report the clinical manifestation to Health Ministry, rather than a random or anecdotal reporting. This will help to identify at an early stage any out-of-the-ordinary or different clinical presentation of the patients.

Noting that the uptake in second and precaution doses in many states reporting the present surge was low, they were advised to rapidly accelerate the vaccination coverage especially of the 60+ elderly population, and second dose among 12-17 population group. It was pointed out that the ongoing Har Ghar Dastak2.0 drive needed a strong push to ramp up COVID vaccine uptake. Underscoring that there was no shortage of COVID vaccines, States were advised to ensure that vaccines that expire first are administered first preventing any wastage of the precious national resource.

Dr Paul and Union Health Secretary both highlighted the low level of COVID testing across the states, and drop in RTPCR share. Instead of a thin and wide testing spectrum, States were advised to focus on strategic testing of patients coming to fever clinics, SARI and ILI patients,along with new clusters and geographies in all districts reporting higher positivity. In addition, States were reminded to undertake of Whole Genome Sequencing through the mapped labs of INSACOG network as per the Revised Surveillance Strategy of Union Health Ministry, which has already been shared with the States.

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