Bhubaneswar: With Odisha bracing for a cyclone in a few days time, its high time people should maintain extra caution in health matters during the ongoing second wave of the Covid pandemic. The Director of the Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar Laxmidhar Sahu has urged people to avoid getting exposed in the rain and windy conditions as much as possible during the cyclone as it may increase risk of infections due to a decrease in immunity inside the body.
Places where there are many members residing inside a house, the chance of infection grows exponentially, in that case, it is advisable that people should wear masks even inside the house. Wearing masks reduces the probability of virus contraction by about 95%.
Meanwhile, Union Health Ministry has cited that the public health challenge already posed by the COVID-19 pandemic may be compounded due to direct impact of COVID and public health risks posed in terms of waterborne. vector borne and airborne diseases that may arise in the community or in the displaced population in camps / temporary shelter settings during the cyclone.
The Ministry on Friday directed the State governments of Odisha, Bengal, AP, Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands to take immediate necessary health measures in all coastal districts.
i. Activate the Health Sector Incident Command System and Emergency Operation Centre/ Control Room. Identify a Nodal Officer and convey his contact details to Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
ii. Activate Health sector DM plan and the Hospital Disaster Management Plan of all the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, Andaman Islands, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal. The Emergency department preparedness in all these hospitals needs to be reviewed.
iii. Advance planning on evacuation from the community and health facilities which are on the path of cyclone, to safer places/bigger hospitals.
iv. The District surveillance units and public health teams mobilized for Covid management needs also to be reoriented on possible outbreak of epidemic prone diseases such as influenza, measles, acute diarrhoea! diseases. dysentery. leptospirosis, dengue, malaria. etc.
v. Health facilities, at all levels, in the affected areas including those identified for Covid treatment needs to be made fully functional with additional human resource drawn from unaffected districts.
vi. There should be adequate power back up arrangements for all the hospitals, labs, vaccine cold chain and Oxygen generation units (MLO, PSA plants) other supportive medical facilities. The availability of water/, electricity and fuel for the health facilities in affected districts shall be ensured.
vii. It needs to be ensured that health facilities are stocked with adequate essential medicines and supplies to meet any exigencies arising due to disruption on movement of vehicles, due to high wind and heavy rainfall. Adequate stock of ORS, Chlorine tablets, bleaching powder, and specific drugs to intervene for these diseases (wherever applicable), need to be ensured. This is as crucial for non-COVID healthcare needs as it is for COVID management in affected communities.
viii. Advance planning should be done for ensuring unhindered movement of oxygen tankers, especially on advance movement of empty tankers by Air Force aircrafts or Indian Railways.
ix. Functional ambulance services shall be assessed and requirements for the districts likely to be affected worked out In advance and mobilized.
x. Medical care and public health interventions need to be planned for camps housing evacuated population. Rapid antigen testing may be taken up for population in camps followed by RT-PCR testing for symptomatic negatives of Rapid antigen tests.
xi. Senior citizens and those suffering from diabetes, hypertension. liver/ kidney, respiratory disease, immuno-compromised diseases need to be specifically monitored with Covid perspective as they constitute people under high risk.
xii. As communication disruption is also likely at some places, the major hospitals in the affected districts may be provided with satellite phones / HAM radio connections.
xiii. In areas ravaged by cyclone, the situation requires adequate focus on Covid Appropriate Behaviour I.e. "Do gaj ki doori" or maintaining physical distance, hand hygiene. wearing masks, etc., especially in camp settings.
xiv. The District and Block Administration shall identify health facilities in low lying areas of districts likely to be affected. Any medical services including medical stores in the ground floor/ basement shall be shifted to higher floors or other buildings to avoid damage.
xv. The funds provided to manage Covid, NHM flexi funds or that available under Disaster Response Fund (as per norms) may be utilized to bridge fund requirement if any.