From Our Bureau                       

8th MAY 2020

A total of 56,342 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the country so far and the death toll mounted to 1,886 on Friday.  So far, 16,540 people have been cured. In the last 24 hours, 1,273 patients were found cured. This takes the total recovery rate to 29.36 percent. This recovery rate is continuously increasing which currently means that almost 1 out of every 3 patients who were hospitalised has recovered/cured.

The total number of active cases now is 37,916. In the last 24 hours, an increase of 3,390 has recorded in the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in India. On an average, 3.2 percent patients are on oxygen support, 4.7 percent of patients are in ICU, and 1.1 percent patients are on ventilator support.

Various actions have been collectively taken by the Centre and States/Union Territories for prevention, containment and management of COVID-19. These are being regularly reviewed and monitored at the highest level.

ICMR has initiated a multi-centre clinical trial called PLACID trial, “Phase-II Open-Label, Randomised Controlled Trial, to assess the safety and efficacy of Convalescent Plasma to Limit COVID-19 associated Complications in Moderate disease”. The study has received approval from the COVID-19 National Ethics Committee (CONEC) on 29th April.

ICMR has shortlisted 21 institutes for PLACID trial. These include 5 hospitals in Maharashtra; 4 in Gujarat; 2 each in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh; and 1 each in Punjab, Karnataka, Telangana and Chandigarh.

There are 216 districts which have not reported any cases till date. As many as 42 districts have seen no fresh cases in the last 28 days, while 29 districts have seen no fresh cases in the last 21 days. A total of 36 districts have seen no fresh cases in the last 14 days, and 46 districts have seen no fresh cases in the last 7 days.

The Ministry of Health has issued additional guidelines for States facility quarantine/ facility isolation in hotels, service apartments, lodges etc., for returnees from abroad/contacts/ isolation of suspects or confirmed cases.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare interacted with the State Health Ministers of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Telangana through a Video Conference wherein he reviewed the preparedness efforts and containment measures regarding COVID-19. He emphasised the need to increase the sampling and testing of SARI/ILI cases, along with proper quarantine arrangements of migrant workers returning from other States.

In continuation of series of focussed meetings with the States like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha, Dr Harsh Vardhan held a high level meeting with Dr. C. Vijayabaskar, Health Minister of Tamil Nadu, Etela Rajendra, Health Minister of Telangana and Dr. K. Sudhakar, Medical Education Minister of Karnataka and senior officials from both Centre and the States to review the situation, actions being taken and preparedness for management of COVID-19 in the three States.

At the outset, Dr. Harsh Vardhan appreciated the dedication of all the States in combating COVID-19 in the country. He informed the States about the present situation in the country and the steps taken by the Centre to combat COVID-19 so far. He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is continuously monitoring and guiding all the concerned Ministries/Departments to implement more effective containment plans, surveillance, contact tracing and screening for COVID-19.

“Appropriate measures are being taken to combat COVID-19 and with the cohesive efforts of both Centre and States, adequately growing numbers of dedicated COVID hospitals, Isolation & ICU beds and Quarantine being identified and developed so far, we are well-prepared to face any eventuality due to COVID-19,” he added.

The Central Government is also extending support by providing sufficient number of masks & Personal Protective Equipments, Ventilators etc. to the States/ UTs / Central Institutions.

After a brief presentation on the status of COVID-19 cases in the States and its management in the States, Dr. Harsh Vardhan stressed that States need to focus on more effective surveillance, contact tracing and early diagnosis to keep low fatality rate.

“Surveillance for Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI)/ Influenza Like Illness (ILI) should be intensified in unaffected districts and districts which have not reported cases from last 14 days and more through the IDSP 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,” he added.

“States need to ensure adoption of Infection, Prevention & Control (IPC) practices in all healthcare settings to avoid/reduce chances of infections to health care workers. States were advised to ensure that all Central Guidelines/Advisories are implemented till the field level in earnest. 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 2 months in advance in containment zones, home delivery of bleaching powder in slum areas and use of Tele-medicine as an alternative to OPD.

The Union Health Minister appreciated the best practices shared by the District Magistrates/Commissioners and other officials of various districts like identification of community volunteers for distribution of necessary services, daily items as well as for creating awareness about Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) activities, deployment of mobile units in rural areas for ANC of pregnant women, screening and treatment of elderly patients suffering from non-communicable diseases etc.

Dr Harsh 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, ANC of pregnant women, etc.

It was also emphasised that the Ayushman Bharat-Health & Wellness Centres could be used for screening for hypertension, diabetes and three types of cancers. Telemedicine 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. States were also informed that helpline number 104 in addition to 1075 can be used for Grievance Redressal for non-COVID essential services, and for informing regarding availability of these services etc. Adequate measures for prevention of vector borne diseases also need to be taken.

Dr Harsh Vardhan also spoke to the DMs of various districts of Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Karnataka and discussed in detail the status and management of COVID-19 in the districts.  He also added that such meetings will help in working more cohesively and also help in filling gaps, if any, and to understand and address the issues more closely and clearly. (eom)

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