Centre asks Chhattisgarh, UP to increase number of ICU beds, ambulance fleet

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New Delhi, Apr 16 (PTI) The Centre on Friday advised Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh to increase the number of isolation, oxygen and ICU beds, ambulance fleet and focus on mortality reduction by early detection of COVID-19 cases and adherence to national treatment protocol.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhall, who along with Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired high-level meetings to review the status of COVID-19 in Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh, stressed on prohibiting unnecessary travel and crowding in public places through strict and effective enforcement.

Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh, along with Maharashtra, are the only states in the country which have over 1 lakh active cases.

Both Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh are reporting very high number of daily new COVID-19 cases and deaths, the health ministry said in a statement.

Chhattisgarh has reported nearly 6.2 per cent increase in weekly new cases based on a seven-day moving average.

'In the last two weeks, the state has seen almost 131 per cent increase in weekly new cases. A total of 22 districts in Chhattisgarh have crossed their reported highest cases in the last 30 days; Raipur, Durg, Rajnandgaon and Bilaspur are the most affected districts.

'In contrast to the week 17th-23rd March 2021, in the week of 7th-13th April 2021, RT-PCR tests have decreased to 28 per cent (from 34 per cent) while the antigen tests have increased to 62 per cent (from 53 per cent),' the ministry said.

Uttar Pradesh has reported a growth rate of 19.25 per cent in daily new coronavirus cases. A total of 46 districts in Uttar Pradesh have crossed their reported highest cases in the last 30 days; Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi and Allahabad are the most affected districts. In contrast to the week March 17-23, in the week of April 7-13, RT-PCR tests have decreased to 46 per cent (from 48 per cent) while antigen tests have increased to 53 per cent (from 51 per cent), it said.

The reported shortage of hospital infrastructure such as ICU and oxygen-supported hospitals beds, resulting in difficulty to the public in easily accessing critical healthcare services were discussed comprehensively, requiring an urgent ramping up of hospital infrastructure. The states were advised to increase the number of isolation, oxygen and ventilators/ICU beds, ambulance fleet as per requirement; plan for adequate oxygen supply; and focus on mortality reduction by early identification of COVID cases and adherence to national treatment protocol, the statement stated.

Prohibiting unnecessary travel and crowding in public places through strict and effective enforcement was also stressed.

The Union health secretary informed that the states' demand for oxygen cylinders including 10 litre cylinders and 45 litre jumbo cylinders), and request for additional ventilators (having high flow nasal canula) will be met very soon, it said.

The Union government has mapped the manufacturing sources of oxygen with 12 states reporting the highest number of daily new cases. States have been advised to increase dedicated COVID-19 beds and use the available buildings in the hospital campus (including AIIMS) for creation of additional COVID-19 dedicated wards. The states were also advised to make use of the hospitals of Union ministries and PSUs for treating COVID-19 patients. The Union health secretary further informed that the health ministry is informing states everyday in the morning of the day's supply of COVID vaccines to the states, to enable better planning for optimum utilisation of vaccines. An augmented health workforce would be needed in the coming days for contact tracing and house-to-house survey for symptomatic patients. The states were advised deployment of volunteers of NSS, NYK, women self-help groups (SHGs), and hiring retired doctors/paramedics, on contracts under the National Health Mission (NHM) funds, the statement said.

Director General ICMR Balram Bhargava recommended setting up of more testing labs, including mobile labs. He also advised for keeping a vigil and ramping up of testing on a continuous basis in districts showing over 5 per cent positivity rate.

After a comprehensive review, the five-fold strategy for tackling the recent surge was re-emphasised. As part of the strategy, the states have been asked to significantly increase testing in all districts with a minimum of 70 per cent RT-PCR tests and use Rapid Antigen Tests as screening tests in densely populated areas as well as areas where fresh clusters are emerging.

They have been asked to ramp up effective and timely tracing, containment and surveillance activities to curb the chain of transmission, and strict implementation of containment measures, besides, time-bound plan of 100 per cent vaccination of eligible population groups, especially in the high focus districts.

The states have asked to effectively follow the protocol of clinical care, treatment and supported home/facility care and strict and effective enforcement of COVID safe behaviour, including strict limitation of unnecessary movement of people and crowds. PTI PLB KJ