Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya during a virtual meeting on Friday with State Health Ministers and Principal Secretaries/ Additional Chief Secretaries and Information Commissioners stated that the Centre and States need to work in tandem and in a collaborative spirit as was done during the previous surges for COVID19 prevention and management.
The virtual meeting was held in the presence of Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar, Union Minister of State for Health and Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog to review the public health preparedness for containment and management of COVID-19 and progress of national COVID-19 vaccination campaign in view of the recent upsurge in cases in some countries like China, Japan, Brazil, and the United States. Advises States to be on the Alert and keep all preparedness for COVID19 management
Union Health Minister referred to the message of the Prime Minister from the high-level review meeting held yesterday and advised States to be on the alert and keep all preparedness for COVID-19 management. States were requested to continue with pre-emptive & proactive approach.
He urged States to strengthen the surveillance system for whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network to ensure timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country. Focus should be given to health facility-based sentinel surveillance; pan-respiratory virus surveillance; community-based surveillance; and sewage/wastewater surveillance. He highlighted the “Need to collectively reinvigorate the system & remove any sense of complacency and fatigue”.
Mandaviya said that irrespective of the new COVID variants, ‘Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate & Adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour’ continue to remain the tested strategy for COVID management. This would facilitate undertaking of appropriate public health measures, he said. States/UTs were also requested to expeditiously increase the rate of testing from the current rate of 79 tests per million, as of the week ending December 22, 2022. They were further advised to increase the share of RT-PCR in tests.
Union Health Minister advised States/UTs to ramp up vaccination of all eligible population, especially of the elderly and vulnerable population groups. He cautioned against spreading of misinformation by ensuring the dissemination of factually correct information in a timely manner. In view of the upcoming festive season, he stressed on the importance of public awareness campaigns regarding adherence to Covid Appropriate Behaviour. Further, Mandaviya requested the State Health Ministers to personally monitor and review the preparedness of all infrastructure and ensure there is adequate stock of essential medicines.
States/UTs were briefed on the global COVID-19 situation and the domestic scenario. They were reminded that Union Health Ministry has already issued “Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in context of COVID-19” in June 2022 which calls for early detection, isolation, testing and timely management of suspected and confirmed cases to detect and contain outbreaks of new SARS-CoV-2 variants. Union Health Minister requested States/UTs to ensure effective implementation of the same. There was a comprehensive and detailed discussion on various aspects of COVID management including ramping up of hospital infrastructure; increased testing.
States appreciated the timely review meetings chaired by the Prime Minister and the Union Health Minister and advisories from the Union Health Ministry. They assured that they will work with the Centre for effective prevention and management of COVID-19. They informed that they are maintaining vigil and are reviewing the present situation. States also assured they will hold mock drill for the readiness of hospital infrastructure on December 27, 2022.