Health Ministry writes to Odisha chief secy suggesting measures to control COVID infection spread

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Wednesday wrote to the Odisha Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra suggesting measures to control the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
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Health Ministry writes to Odisha chief secy suggesting measures to control COVID infection spread

New Delhi : Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Wednesday wrote to the Odisha Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra suggesting measures to control the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

In his letter the Union Health Secretary stated that although the trajectory of daily new cases of COVID-19 has fallen substantially in the country, there is a need for continued monitoring of weekly case positivity, as well as cases trajectory in each district to identify any early warning signals of the spread of infection.

"It is a point of concern that presently, three districts of Odisha are reporting weekly positivity of more than 10 per cent (28th June to 4th July). Though the State positivity is consistently decreasing and has reported positivity of 5.36 per cent for the week ending 4th July. The district of Nuapada has shown a significant increase in positivity over the last week," read the letter.

Highlighting the critical areas of concern after further analysis, Bhushan in his letter said that although the cases have shown a continuous decline since past four weeks, the State has five districts (Baleshwar, Cuttack, Jagatsinghapur, Kendrapara, and Khordha) that have shown an increase in the week ending July 4 when compared with the previous week.

He stated that Odisha has a low CFR of less than 0.46 per cent. However continuous monitoring of daily new deaths needs to be done.

"There has been an increase in the number of deaths reported by the state over the past two weeks. Khorda district has reported 58 deaths over the last week, the highest in the state. The total deaths reported by the state for the same period are 309," Bhushan said in the letter.

He said that the above-mentioned points are a cause for concern, and in order to not let the situation slip out of control, he listed various points and urged the Odisha chief secretary to focus on them and take necessary action at the earliest.

Suggesting strict containment measures, Bhushan asserted that containment is the most crucial strategy of flattening this current curve. He said that it is critical to plan effective containment measures and implement them stringently, and to strengthen all our efforts made for prompt contact tracing of the close contacts of positive cases and immediate quarantine /isolation of all suspected and confirmed cases as per the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Urging to ramp up testing, the letter said that several districts are reporting high positivity rates, which reflects the level of widespread infection. A microanalysis needs to be done of areas showing high positivity (>10 per cent) during the past weeks. Accordingly, all such areas should be targeted for increasing the testing exponentially while maintaining a high proportion of RT-PCR tests. The state should aim at maintaining positivity rate below 5 per cent in each district duly focusing on increasing the number of tests so as to aid early identification.

Addressing healthcare infrastructure planning, the Union Health Secretary in his letter said that to ensure preparedness, the state must maintain continuous vigil regarding bed occupancy of critical beds (Oxygen supported and ICU beds) and if the occupancy is more than 40 per cent for any bed category, the states should plan for augmentation of healthcare infrastructure in those districts.

He further stated that trained human resources, infrastructure, logistics, and procurement should be planned considering the geographical spread of the pandemic. The state should also work towards ensuring timely disclosure of all infrastructure availability based details on public portals or via media so as to avoid misinformation, he said.

Stating the importance of effective clinical management, Bhushan in his letter said that with a rise in fatalities, clinical management protocol may be followed effectively and promptly. It is important to monitor all cases under home isolation and put processes in place to ensure smooth hospitalization of patients, in case the same is required.

All facilities also should be monitored with respect to the overall fatality, including deaths being reported between 24, 48, and 72 hours of hospitalization to identify any weak spots and to undertake required corrective action, he said in his letter to the Odisha Chief Secretary.

"Ramping up vaccination: Vaccination must be used as an aid to the infection containment strategy. Ramping up vaccination sites, improving the efficiency and utilization of vaccination deploying strategic vaccination centres near the containment zones, and now. ensuring speedier vaccination of all citizens aged 18+ should be undertaken on a priority," it added. (ANI)