Rise in Daily Covid-19 Cases, Mortality in Some Chhattisgarh Districts Key Points of Concern: Vardhan

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Expressing concern over the rise in daily COVID-19 cases and mortality in some districts in Chhattisgarh, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday said the death rate within 24 and 72 hours of hospitalisation at 34.8 per cent and 46.2 per cent respectively indicates that cases are not identified before they progress to an advanced state.

Vardhan, who interacted withTribhuvaneshwar Saran Singh Deo, Health and Medical Education Minister of Chhattisgarh in the presence of District Magistrates and Municipal Commissioners of different districts, reiterated his concern that the coming winter and the long festive season pose a significant risk that could threaten the gains made against COVID-19, the health ministry said in a statement.

We all need to be more vigilant for the next three months. Prime Minister's message of wearing mask, maintaining a physical distance and frequent hand-washing should reach the last citizen," he was quoted as saying in the statement. Comparing the COVID trajectory of Chhattisgarh with that of the country, Vardhan said, The recovery rate of the state stands at 87 per cent against the national rate of 92 per cent. The state actually has a lower case fatality rate of 1.19 per cent compared to 1.49 per cent for the entire country.

He expressed concern that the state is still seeing a high positivity in the districts of Rajnandgaon, Durg, Raipur, Bilaspur, Raigarh and Baloda-bazar while cases are increasing in tribal areas as well, the statement said. "The percentage of deaths within 24 and 72 hours of hospitalization at 34.8 per cent and 46.2 per cent respectively, indicates that cases are not identified before they progress to an advanced state. This is an area of concern and needs to be attended by the state authorities," Vardhan said.

The Union Health Minister also observed that the RT-PCR to Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) Ratio in the state is presently 20:80 percent. He said while the RAT has its benefits in early identification, the gold standard of testing is RT-PCR and the state needs to increase its proportion, the statement further said. The third area of concern highlighted by Vardhan was the spike in the number of daily deaths in the recent days, averaging about 50.

Dr Sujeet Singh, Director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) apprised those present during the interaction on the trajectory of COVID in the various districts of Chhattisgarh. Deo noted that the state administration has seen the maximum spread in the country's Central regions along the Mumbai-Kolkata Transport Corridor.

He further said the recent inflation in death figures was due to clearing the backlog of the earlier days, adding that the recent reports have recorded the 'cause of death' and this reconciliation has led to the surge. Deo was of the view that after these arrears were taken care of, the daily death figures would stabilize. The Chhattisgarh minister also shared many best practices of the administration like its preparation for last mile vaccine delivery and savings in bulk procurement of COVID-19 related medical items, the statement mentioned.

Vardhan interacted with the DMs of the districts reporting a surge in cases such as Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur, and Baloda-Bazar. The DMs shared their experiences and best practices of strengthening the medical infrastructure, measures to instil COVID-19 appropriate behaviour, enhanced testing, and conducting prevalence surveys.

Rajesh Bhushan, the Union Health Secretary, requested the Chhattisgarh administration to take certain steps — ramp up testing, check the feasibility of targeted testing of areas where super spreading may take place like markets and bus terminuses, to complete contact tracing within the first 72 hours, to prepare a database of people who are co-morbid and more than fifty years of age for their focused monitoring. He added that for encouraging people to adopt COVID appreciate behaviour, behaviour change communication was important.

Bhushan urged the state government that appeals to people to follow COVID appropriate behaviour be made by Panchayat representatives, ULB representatives, MLAs, Cabinet ministers and other prominent personalities in the state, the statement added.