Centre asks Madhya Pradesh to implement 5-fold strategy to check COVID spread

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New Delhi, Apr 15 (PTI) Amid alarming rise of coronavirus cases in Madhya Pradesh, the Centre has asked the state to strengthen and enhance oxygen and ICU beds and effectively implement a five-fold strategy of 'test, track, treat, follow COVID-appropriate behaviour and vaccinate' to check the spread.

The health ministry has also asked it to curb non-essential movement of large groups of people and social gatherings that could turn into super spreader events.

In a statement, the ministry said issues related to adequate availability of N95 masks, PPE kits, HCQ tablets availability, ventilator allocation, delivery and installation along with oxygen requirement and status of allocation of concentrator plants were discussed in detail in a high-level meeting.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla along with Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary chaired the meeting to review the status of COVID-19 in Madhya Pradesh and the public health measures taken for its surveillance, containment and management by the health authorities.

Madhya Pradesh has reported nearly 13.4 per cent week-on-week increase in new COVID cases. In last two weeks, the state has seen almost 79 per cent increase in weekly new cases.

It was pointed out that 44 districts in Madhya Pradesh have crossed their reported highest cases in the last 30 days with Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior and Khandwa being the most affected districts.

Granular details like testing and case analysis weekly trend in analysis in these districts was also discussed in the meeting.

'In Madhya Pradesh, in contrast to the week April 7-13 in the week of March 17-23 2021, RT-PCR tests have increased to 73 per cent (from 67 per cent) while the Antigen tests has decreased to 25 per cent (from 31 per cent),' the health ministry said.

Bhalla highlighted critical bottlenecks in the state's response to COVID like shortage of beds in general and oxygenated beds in particular and other hospital infrastructure.

'The state was asked to curb non-essential movement of large groups of people and social gatherings that could turn into super spreader events with an aim to prevent surge in cases and prevent mortality. The need to carry out the exercise in urban areas was particularly stressed,' the health ministry said.

Bhalla urged authorities to actively explore the possibility of also using hospitals belonging to organisations of the Union government like the Railways, Labour (ESI), SAIL, Coal India etc., to augment the existing hospital infrastructure of the state.

He also told them that all final year MBBS and nursing students along with interns and junior residents can be drafted by following the guidelines issued by the Union Health Ministry in this regard.

The state health authorities were asked to ensure rational utilisation of oxygen in hospitals in accordance with the guidelines for rational use of oxygen, which has been shared with all states and union territories.

While hospital level and district level committees were asked to look into oxygen planning and utilisation, the utility of virtual control room set up by DPIIT and the Union Health Ministry was also pointed to the state authorities.

After a detailed and comprehensive review of the status of COVID-19 in the state, including the mortality figures, the following five-fold strategy for tackling the recent surge was highlighted and discussed: On the front of testing, the state was advised to significantly increase testing in all districts with a minimum of 70 per cent RT-PCR tests and use of Rapid Antigen Tests as screening tests in densely populated areas as well as areas where fresh clusters are emerging and mandatorily subject those who have tested negative in Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) to RT-PCR test.

The state has been asked to use strategy of tracing, containment, surveillance to suppress the spread.

'Tracing of close contacts at least 25 to 30 such close contacts for each infected person and their isolation to be done in 72 hours. Do subsequent testing and follow up of all close contacts. Delineate containment zones as per proper mapping of clusters of cases & their contacts,' the Centre asked the state.

The state was advised to follow the protocol of clinical care, treatment and support, for home / facility care by increasing the number of isolation beds, oxygen beds, ventilators/ICU beds, ambulance fleet as per requirement, planning for adequate oxygen supply and focus on mortality reduction by early identification and complying to treatment protocols.

On COVID-safe behaviour, the state was advised to use local political, cultural, sports, religious influencers to disseminate proper wearing of masks and maintaining physical distance and use of Police Act, DM Act and other legal/administrative provisions for effective and strict enforcement.

Regarding vaccination, the state was advised to ensure- time-bound plan of 100 per cent vaccination of eligible HCWs, FLWs and eligible age groups. PTI UZM ZMN