“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”. This was stated by Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare as he virtually interacted with State Health Ministers and Principal Secretaries/ Additional Chief Secretaries and Information Commissioners, here today. 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.
Shri N Rangaswamy, Chief Minister, Puducherry, Dr Manik Saha, Chief Minister and Health Minister, Tripura, Shri Manoj Sinha, Lieutenant Governor, Jammu & Kashmir, Shri Parsadi Lal Meena, Health Minister (Rajasthan), Shri Dhan Singh Rawat, Health Minister (Uttarakhand), Shri Keshab Mahanta, Health Minister (Assam), Dr K Sudhakar, Health Minister (Karnataka), Shri Banna Gupta, Health Minister (Jharkhand), Shri Prabhuram Choudhury, Health Minister (Madhya Pradesh), Shri S Chetan Singh Jauramajra, Health Minister (Punjab), Shri T S Singh Deo, Health Minister (Chhattisgarh), Shri Sapam Ranjan Singh, Health Minister (Manipur), Shri Anil Vij, Health Minister (Haryana), Shri Thiru Ma Subramanian, Health Minister (Tamil Nadu), Smt. Vidadala Rajini, Health Minister (Andhra Pradesh), Smt. Veena George, Health Minister (Kerala), Smt. Chandrima Bhattacharya, Health Minister (West Bengal) and Shri Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister (Delhi) joined the high-level review meeting.
Union Health Minister referred to the message of Hon. Prime Minister from the high level review meeting held yesterday and advised States to be on the alert and keep all preparedness for COVID19 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 is to 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”.
Dr. 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 on week ending 22nd December, 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 group. He cautioned against spreading of misinformation by ensuring 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. Dr 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 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 Hon. 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 readiness of hospital infrastructure on 27th December, 2022.
Dr. Manohar Agnani, AS (Health Ministry), Shri Lav Agarwal, AS (Health Ministry), Shri Mandeep Bhandari, JS (Health Ministry), Dr. Atul Goel, DGHS, and senior officials of the ministry were present in the meeting.