COVID: Punjab announces specialist group to frame paediatric treatment protocol

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Chandigarh, Jun 7 (PTI) Rolling out a detailed action plan for a possible third wave of COVID-19, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday said a group of specialists in paediatrics will frame treatment protocols for the state.

The group will comprise specialists from government medical colleges (GMCs), the Department of Health, and the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, the chief minister said.

Singh directed the Health and the Medical Education departments to put into action a comprehensive plan to deal with the next wave of the coronavirus, if and when it comes.

Taking stock of preparations underway for a possible next wave of the virus during a virtual meeting, the chief minister ordered creation of storage capacities for oxygen for a minimum of three days in all GMCs and said piped O2 should be made available in all government hospitals.

At least 375 metric tonnes of oxygen should be available with the state at any given time, Singh said, stressing on the need to prepare for peak supply logistics.

Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan informed the meeting that the state received 500 oxygen concentrators on Monday against a World Bank loan for water surface supply projects, and another 2,500 were on the way.

Amarinder Singh directed deputy commissioners to identify paediatric COVID-19 level-2 and level-3 beds in the private sector, with experts to advise the district administration on paediatric treatment protocol and medicines.

He asked the officials to increase the number of RT-PCR machines for COVID-19 testing of children, besides augmenting ICU and oxygen capacities, and infrastructure and manpower across the state.

Amid indications that the damage caused by a third wave in some countries is almost 25 per cent higher than the second, the chief minister ordered creation of surge capacity and plugging of gaps, if any, in equipment and recruitment of doctors, specialists, nurses, technicians etc.

The standard operating procedure received from the Paediatric Association of India should be strictly adhered to, Singh said, directing health experts to put into action a comprehensive plan to deal with a third surge of the pandemic.

Stocks of consumables and medicines should be maintained, and capacity building of existing staff should be undertaken to ensure paediatric patient care in the next wave, he said.

Singh also issued directions for continuous surveillance in both urban and rural areas, along with whole genome sequencing testing. Sero-survey should also be taken up from time to time, he added.

The chief minister expressed satisfaction over the progress of the 'Corona Mukt Pendu Abhiyan' in villages, where almost 1.5 crore individuals (37 lakh households) have already been screened.

These efforts had resulted in identification of 5,889 infected patients who have been assisted as per protocols.

Asserting that Punjab cannot afford to let its guard down despite the decline in the caseload, Singh said the virus mutations were a matter of concern even though the CFR was lower than the first wave.

Referring to the spread of black fungus, the chief minister said there are currently 381 cases of mucormycosis in the state, of which 38 have already been cured and 265 are undergoing treatment.

Punjab's COVID-19 expert group head Dr K K Talwar informed the meeting that almost 30 per cent of patients were showing post-Covid complications and continue to be symptomatic.

Patients are taking almost three months to get back to normal, and thus, there is a need for strict monitoring, he added. PTI CHS VSD IJT

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