Focus on strict containment, public health measures in 46 high burden districts: Centre

at 6:08 pm
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New Delhi (NVI): The Central Government today at a high-level meeting asked the States and UTs to focus on stringent containment and public health measures in the 46 high burden districts to break the chain of transmission of the novel coronavirus.

“Union Health Secretary, Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level review meeting today with Addl. Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and Secretaries (H&FW) 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,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

These states are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Punjab, and Bihar, it said

During the meeting, stringent action including effective containment and contact tracing for at least 14 successive days in the 46 districts was recommended for breaking the chain of transmission and not frittering away the gains of collaborative efforts of last year.

The states were informed that the country has seen the sharpest rise in weekly COVID-19 cases and fatalities since May last year.

Therefore, the focus was on 46 districts that have contributed 71 percent of the cases and 69 percent of the deaths this month. It was also informed that a total of 36 districts in Maharashtra, 25 are most affected that account for 59.8 percent of the cases reported in the country during the past one week.

As per the statistics provided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, almost 90 percent of the COVID-19 deaths continue to be in the category of those aged above 45 years.

An awareness survey found that while 90 percent of people are aware, only 44 percent actually wear face masks, the statement said.

“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,” it added.

On the other hand, a five-fold strategy was also laid out for adoption by the States and UTs for effective containment and management of the COVID pandemic, the ministry noted.

These strategies include an exponential increase in testing, effective isolation and contact tracing of that infected, re-invigoration of public and private healthcare resources, ensuring of COVID appropriate behavior (CAB), and a targeted approach to vaccination in districts reporting large numbers.

At the meeting, the states were also urged to focus on the universalization of vaccination in the specified priority population age groups as an aid to containment strategy in districts where maximum cases are being reported, the ministry said.

It was reiterated that there is no shortage of vaccines, while states optimally utilize all vaccination capacities within the public and private sectors in all districts, and make full use of the available vaccine stocks without keeping a buffer stock in anticipation of a shortage.

Further, states were asked to make advance planning of logistics and infrastructure management for 1-1.5 months as any unchecked spread of infection among the community may overwhelm the local administration.

“Re-appropriation of unused vaccine stocks in a district to focus on the high burden districts was also suggested,” the statement added.

Dr. V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog was also present during the review meeting.