J'khand sets up block-level task force to battle COVID second surge;starts mapping exercise

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Ranchi, May 19 (PTI) Battling a severe second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, the Jharkhand government has set up task force at block level to map and more effectively contain the virus.

Adopting a multi-pronged strategy, it began the massive public health survey exercise Wednesday which will be carried out till May 25, a top state government official said.

The state government in a letter to Deputy Commissioners of all the 24 districts has asked for formation of 'Block COVID Task Force' in all the 260 blocks and intensifying coronavirus tests, distribution of home isolation kits, making available ambulances and disposal of the dead bodies in a scientific manner.

Ensure convening meetings of the block COVID task force mandatorily on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, a letter to the Deputy Commissioners by the state's Additional Chief Secretary sent on May 17 mentions.

The nine-member block-level task force is headed by block development officer or circle officer and comprises medical officer, chid development project officer, officer in charge of the concerned police station, block Panchayati Raj official and block education officer among others.

The task force has been mandated to take into its hold health workers, auxiliary nurse midwives and community health officers for conducting public health survey.

The letter mentions imparting training to health and multi-purpose workers for Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) in addition to providing them adequate home isolation kits, pulse oximeters and thermal scanners.

In addition, the block officials have been asked to set up test centres at primary health centres, local markets and offices of block officials besides making provisions for at least two ambulances with drivers in each of the blocks.

The officials have been asked to ensure proper disposal of dead bodies in accordance with their religions including arrangement for wood and burial places.

Jharkhand on Wednesday reported 62 fresh COVID-19 fatalities, taking the death toll to 4,601, while 2,925 new cases pushed the tally to 3,20,934.

The mineral-rich state now has 31,528 active COVID-19 cases, while 2,84,805 patients have recovered from the infection.

State capital Ranchi, which has been severely impacted by the virus, recorded 20 deaths during the day, as against 10 on Tuesday and 18 on Monday.

Battling a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases during the second wave, the state government has extended the lockdown till May 27.

Restrictions with stricter provisions, including seven days mandatory quarantine for people visiting the state, are now in place.

Altogether, 78,45,253 samples have been tested for COVID-19 in Jharkhand thus far, including 54,338 since Tuesday, it added.

The mortality rate in the state remained higher at 1.43 per cent as against the nation's 1.10 per cent.

In a bid to protect its citizens from the deadly virus, the Jharkhand government had on May 14 launched a free vaccination drive for people in the age group of 18 to 44 years.

Over 1.57 crore people in the state are in the 18-44 years age bracket.

The state government could not roll out the inoculation drive for these people from May 1 as it was facing a shortage of vaccines. PTI NAM SNS SNS