‘Serious Concern’ Over COVID-19 In 11 States/UTs
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The current COVID-19 case growth rate of 6.8% in March 2021 has surpassed the previous record of 5.5% (June 2020), noted a release issued by the Central government following a meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba. The government has also identified 11 States/UTs as areas of grave concern — Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Haryana.

These States/UTs have been reporting a surge in daily cases and daily mortality because of COVID-19 in the last two weeks. “Another worrisome aspect pointed out was that Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities along with peri-urban areas have recorded a surge in COVID-19 cases. The spread of infection to the rural areas with weak health infrastructure would overwhelm the local administration,”’ noted the release.

The meeting saw the participation of Chief Secretaries, Director Generals of Police, Health Secretaries of all States/UTs, and other senior officials. The Central government said that while the country was reporting about 97,000 daily new COVID-19 cases at the peak of the pandemic in September 2020, the country has now reached the critical figure of 81,000 daily new cases of COVID-19.

States/UTs have been asked to increase testing continuously to ensure that positivity comes down to 5% or less than 5%. Focus on ensuring RT-PCR tests, and reduce the waiting time of test results. Use Rapid Antigen Tests as a screening test in densely populated areas. The Centre has added that all symptomatic RAT negatives have to be compulsorily subjected to RT-PCR tests. States/UTs have been told to ensure that patients isolated at home are monitored daily. 25 to 30 close contacts must be traced for each infected person.

In an effort to minimise the daily fatalities, States have been advised to strengthen public and private healthcare resources and directed to increase the number of isolation beds, oxygen beds, ventilators/ICU beds as per requirement, plan for adequate oxygen supply, strengthen ambulance service, and reduce response time and refusal rate with regular monitoring by local administration, and ensure an adequate number of contractual staff.

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