From Our Bureau                       

11TH JUNE 2020

A total of 2,86,579 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the country so far and the death toll rose to 8,102 on Thursday. 

During the last 24 hours, a total of 5,823 COVID-19 patients have been cured. Thus, so far, a total of 1,41,029 patients have been cured of COVID-19. The recovery rate amongst COVID-19 patients is 49.21 percent. India currently has 1,37,448 active cases which are all under medical supervision. At present, the number of recovered patients exceeds the number of active patients. .

Meanwhile, the sero-surveillance study conducted by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has revealed that 0.73 percent of the population surveyed showed evidence of past exposure to SARS-CoV-2. This was stated by Dr. Balram Bhargava, Director General of ICMR, during the media briefing, here today.

ICMR conducted the first sero-survey for COVID19 in May 2020 in collaboration with State health departments, NCDC and WHO India. The study was conducted in 83 districts covering 28,595 households and 26,400 individuals. The study has two parts out of which the primary task of estimating the fraction of population who has been infected with SARS-CoV-2 in general population has been completed. The second objective of estimating fraction of population who has been infected with SARS-CoV-2 in containment zones of hotspot cities is in the process of completion.

The study also clearly points out that the measures taken during the lockdown have been successful in keeping the transmission low and in preventing rapid spread of COVID-19. ICMR has calculated that compared to rural areas, risk of spread is 1.09 times higher in urban areas and 1.89 times higher in urban slums. The infection fatality rate is very low at 0.08 percent. This only means that a large portion of the population must continue following COVID appropriate behaviour suggested by the authorities from time to time.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, held a high-level meeting today (via Video Conferencing) with Rajesh Tope, Health Minister of Maharashtra, Amit Deshmukh, Medical Education Minister of Maharashtra and DMs of COVID-19 affected districts of Maharashtra in presence of Ashwini Kumar Choubey, MoS (HFW). Ms. Preeti Sudan, Secretary (HFW), Rajesh Bhushan, OSD (HFW) along with the senior officials from both Centre and the State.

All 36 Districts are affected in the State. Dr Harsh Vardhan personally interacted and reviewed the status of COVID-19 and its management with districts of Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nashik, Palghar, Nagpur and Aurangabad, while all the districts were connected during the VC.

At the outset, Dr. S. K. Singh, Director, NCDC made a presentation on COVID-19 status in Maharashtra highlighting the districts that were showing higher number of active cases, case fatality rate, confirmation rate, doubling time and low testing rate. He also presented the availability of the health infrastructure and districts that need attention against the backdrop of high confirmation rates and case fatality rates. 

While speaking on the current scenario of COVID-19 in Maharashtra, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “Increase in number of Containment Zones needs immediate attention. Vulnerability mapping of densely populated areas should be done for effective containment strategy to be put in place. Also, rise in Case Fatality rate should be looked into along with tests done per million population.”

Regarding the health infrastructure, Dr. Harsh Vardhan advised strengthening the system of ICU, ventilators and testing labs in Maharashtra and ensuring the availability of ICU and ventilators to all forthcoming patients. With respect to the human resource management, he said quality of health care should be improved with quality training to Healthcare workers through online training modules.

He also told the State officials that the testing labs should ensure prompt delivery of reports of COVID-19 tests to help in timely detection and management of COVID-19 patients. “We have ramped up our testing capacity through a network of 602 government labs and 235 private labs (total 837 labs). We have cumulatively tested 52,13,140 samples till date and 1,51,808 samples were tested in the last 24 hours,” he pointed out.

He said that as on date, more than 136 lakh N95 masks and more than 106 lakh PPEs have been distributed to States/Union Territories and central institutions. In non-COVID hospitals, rational use of PPEs was to be ensured as per guidelines issued by the Ministry, the Union Minister advised. .

Dr Harsh Vardhan highlighted the need for strengthening human resource for contact tracing; logistics enhancement like including ICU beds with ventilators, beds with facility available for oxygen supplementation etc; ensuring transport for healthcare workers; and strengthening Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) activities to reduce community resistance and counselling of high risk contacts.

In addition, it was important for districts to ensure strict implementation of containment plan along with epidemiological investigation of cases for complete contact tracing and strict quarantine for the inflowing persons from the major affected areas.

The State was also advised to ensure focus on essential RMNCHA+N services with special care for pregnant women along with services like blood collection/transfusion, chemotherapy, and dialysis.

“The State must ensure that essential services for TB diagnosis and management do not suffer as these patients are very much prone to the COVID-19 infection. Active survey for TB cases should be done along with the house to house surveys being conducted for COVID-19,” he observed.

Strict action should be taken to ensure prohibition of spitting in public places to control the spread. Adequate measures for prevention of vector borne diseases also need to be taken up, he added.

In delivering these services, the State officials were asked to utilize the network of more than 3,775 centres of Ayushman Bharat- Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs) which are functional across the State. They were advised to engage volunteers for door step delivery and Telemedicine/Tele- consultation for OPD Services. They were asked to ensure timely payment of salary /incentives for the health workers or employing temporary human resource along with adequate stocks of essential medicines.

“Many trials have started for medicine and vaccine for Covid-19. We will have to be vigilant till we have finally defeated Covid-19. We must adopt good practices of each other mutually for eradication of COVID-19. All District and Municipal government officials must work in cooperation with the State and the Centre,” he pointed out. (eom)

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