Focus on more effective surveillance of COVID-19, contact tracing and early diagnosis: Centre to 3 southern states

New Delhi, May 8 (PTI) Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday asked Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Karnataka to focus on more effective surveillance, contact tracing and early diagnosis to keep low fatality rate in COVID-19 cases.

He also asked these states to intensify surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and influenza like illness (ILI) in unaffected districts and districts which have not reported any fresh cases in the past 14 days and more through the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme network in collaboration with medical colleges and hospitals.  'Such measures will help to indicate the presence of any possible hidden infection at an early stage thus helping in its timely containment,' Vardhan stressed.

The minister also asked the states to ensure adoption of infection, prevention and control (IPC) practices in all healthcare settings to avoid and reduce chances of infections to health care workers.

In continuation of a series of meetings with the states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha, Vardhan held a high-level meeting with Health Minister of Tamil Nadu C Vijayabaskar, Telangana Health Minister Etela Rajendra and Medical Education Minister of Karnataka K Sudhakar on Friday.

Vardhan, along with Union Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey, reviewed the situation, actions being taken and preparedness for management of COVID-19 in the three states, a health ministry statement said.

Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Karnataka have registered 37, 30 and 29 COVID-19 fatalities and have reported 5409, 1123 and 705 cases respectively till 8 AM on Friday.

Appreciating the dedication of all the states in combating COVID-19 in the country, Vardhan said appropriate measures are being taken with the cohesive efforts of both the Centre and states in scaling up the number of dedicated COVID hospitals, isolation and ICU beds and quarantine facilities.

'So far we are well-prepared to face any eventuality due to COVID-19,' he said.

The states informed about some of the best practices adopted at the district level such as deployment of mobile testing laboratories and distribution of medicines for non-communicable diseases for a period of two months in advance in containment zones, home delivery of bleaching powder in slum areas and use of tele-medicine as an alternative to OPD.

Vardhan appreciated the work done by the state governments and the dedication shown by frontline health workers, anganwadi workers, police and paramilitary personnel who are working beyond the call of duty in the interest of nation.

He reminded states to provide them preventive medicines and immunity boosters along with testing as and when required.

It was reiterated to the states that attention needs to be accorded to provisioning of non-COVID essential health services such as immunisation drives, TB case tracing and treatment, providing blood transfusion for dialysis patients, treatment of cancer patients and antenatal care of pregnant women, the statement said.

It was also stated that the Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres could be used for screening for hypertension, diabetes and three types of cancers.  Tele-medicine and tele-counselling could be used for a larger population in view of the lockdown. States have been advised to keep adequate stock of essential medicines, he said.

The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 1,886 and the number of cases climbed to 56,342 on Friday, according to the Union Health Ministry. PTI PLB SMN SMN