Kolkata: The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has written a letter to the Chief Secretaries of all the states that are likely to be affected by the intensified cyclonic storm ‘Yaas', urging the state governments to make adequate arrangements for Covid preparedness, because there is a fear that the storm might compound the public health threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the letter, the MoHFW said, "The public health challenges already posed by the Covid-19 pandemic may be compounded due to the direct impact of the cyclone in terms of waterborne, vector-borne and airborne diseases that may arise in the community or in the displaced population in camps and temporary shelter settings."
In a series of instructions given to the state authorities, the ministry said, "Activate the health sector incident command system and the emergency operation centre/control room. Identify a nodal officer and convey his contact details to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 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."
Urging the states to keep adequate stocks of ORS, Chlorine tablets, bleaching powder and specific drugs, the letter said," There should be adequate power back-up arrangements for all the hospitals, labs, vaccine cold-chains, oxygen generation units and other supportive medical facilities."
The state governments have been asked to ensure water, electricity and fuel for the health facilities in the affected areas.
Urging for advance planning along the path of the cyclone, the states have been requested to ensure unhindered movement of oxygen tankers, especially advance movement of empty tankers by Air Force aircraft or Indian Railways.
The states have also been asked to make arrangements for rapid antigen testing for the population in camps followed by RT-PCR testing for symptomatic negatives of antigen tests.
"Senior citizens and those suffering from diabetes, hypertension, liver/ kidney/ respiratory disease, and immuno-compromised diseases need to be specifically monitored with Covid perspective as they constitute people under high risk," the letter said.
Assuring all kinds of assistance to the states, the ministry asked for evacuation of the hospitals in the path of the cyclone in the concerned districts of Odisha and West Bengal.