16 May 2021: Centre issues new guidelines to combat COVID-19 in rural areas
Noting the gradual rise of COVID-19 cases in the country's rural areas, the Union Health Ministry on Sunday issued fresh guidelines to ensure that community-based services and primary level healthcare infrastructure in these regions are equipped to manage the raging pandemic.
Village-level surveillance, teleconsultation with community health officers, and training in Rapid Antigen Testing were part of the measures suggested in the Centre's SOPs.
COVID-19 response: Rural communities need to intensify their COVID-19 response: Centre
The Centre said India's COVID-19 outbreak is predominantly an urban phenomenon, but the outbreak is worsening in peri-urban, rural, and tribal areas.
It called for strengthening rural communities and intensifying their COVID-19 response while continuing to provide essential healthcare.
"PHC (Primary Health Centers)/Health facilities in the private sector in these areas play a significant role in delivering services to the population," it added.
Village-level: Active surveillance on village-level; assessment by community health officers
The Ministry further said that in every village, active surveillance should be done for influenza-like illnesses/severe acute respiratory infections (ILI/SARI), periodically by ASHA with help of the Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Committee (VHSNC).
It also directed community health officers to determine the seriousness of the infection by teleconsultation and recommend cases with comorbidities and low oxygen saturation to higher centers.
Adequate equipment: Ensure enough RAT kits, pulse oximeters, thermometers: Centre
The Centre said that community health officers should be trained in performing RATs and the testing kits should be made available at all public health facilities.
"It is desirable for each village to have an adequate number of pulse oximeters and thermometers," it added.
Contact tracing must also be undertaken as far as possible based on guidelines of the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP).
Asymptomatic cases: '80-85% COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, may be managed at home'
The Centre said that tested patients should be counseled to isolate themselves till their results are available.
"Those asymptomatic but having history of high-risk exposure to COVID-19 patients should be advised quarantine and tested as per ICMR protocol," it said.
It noted that nearly 80-85% of COVID-19 cases are mild/asymptomatic, do not require hospitalization, and may be managed at home or COVID-19 isolation centers.
Fact: Home isolation kit to be provided to all COVID-19 cases
A home isolation kit shall be provided to all cases, which will include medicines like paracetamol, ivermectin, cough syrup, and multivitamins. It will also include a pamphlet highlighting precautions to be taken, a proforma to monitor the patients' condition, and contact details, the SOPs said.
Prime Minister: Make guidelines available in easy language, with illustrations: PM
At a high-level meeting on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that states should report COVID-19 case numbers transparently without feeling any pressure that high numbers would show adversely on their efforts.
He called for a heightened focus on door-to-door testing and surveillance.
The guidelines on home isolation and treatment in rural areas should be made available in easy language with illustrations, he added.
Fact: You can read the Centre's complete guidelines here:
Also see: Centre increases vaccine doses to Maharashtra; 'not enough,' says state
'Test, track, and treat': Centre to states/UTs reporting COVID-19 surge
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