Increase testing, ensure COVID-19 appropriate behaviour: Centre to 12 states, UTs reporting surge in cases

New Delhi: The Centre on Saturday chaired a high-level meet with 12 States and Union Territories (UTs) reporting surge in Covid-19 cases. States and Union Territories were advised to focus on stringent containment and public health measures in 46 high burden districts. Union Health Secretary, Rajesh Bhushan chaired the high-level review meeting today with Additional Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and Secretaries (Health and Family Welfare) of 12 States and Municipal Commissioners and District Collectors of 46 districts that are the most affected by rising cases and rising mortality because of Covid-19.

These States are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Punjab and Bihar. Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog was also present during the review meeting. Through a detailed presentation, the States were informed that the country has seen the sharpest rise in weekly Covid-19 cases and fatalities since May 2020 (7.7 per cent and 5.1 per cent respectively).

The focus was on 46 districts that have contributed 71 per cent of the cases and 69 per cent of the deaths this month. Of total 36 districts in Maharashtra, 25 are most affected that account for 59.8 per cent of the cases reported in the country during the past one week. A granular analysis of affected districts in these States and UTs along with some key statistics was presented.

Almost 90 per cent of the COVID-19 deaths continue to be in the category of those aged above 45 years. Findings of studies were highlighted which depicted that while 90 per cent people are aware, only 44per cent actually wear face masks. One infected person could spread Covid-19 to an average of 406 other individuals in a 30 day window without restrictions which could be reduced to just 15 by decreasing physical exposure to 50 per cent and to a further 2.5 (average) by decreasing physical exposure to 75 per cent.

It was also highlighted that the concept of ‘second wave’ reflected more the laxity among everyone regarding Covid Appropriate Behaviour and Covid containment and management strategy at the ground level. Hence stringent action including effective containment and contact tracing for at least 14 successive days in the 46 districts was strongly recommended for breaking the chain of transmission and not frittering away the gains of collaborative efforts of last year.

A five-fold strategy was laid out for adoption by the States and UTs for effective containment and management of the Covid pandemic. Exponential Increase in Testing: The States were strongly advised for a significant increase of testing in all districts in line with their positivity rate, with an increased share of RT PCR tests, to a ratio of more than 70 per cent of total. Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) to be mostly deployed as a screening tool in flushing out cluster cases from densely populated areas.

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