DDMA chalks out fresh Covid strategy for Delhi
Advanced sero-surveys for better identification of susceptible pools, augmenting genome sequencing efforts to keep better track on variants of the Sars-Cov-2 virus, and granular data and trend analysis for location-based measures to control the infection - these are among the strategies chalked out by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Friday to prepare for potential waves of the Covid-19 in the future and keep the disease in check in the Capital.
After a meeting chaired by DDMA chairperson and lieutenant governor Anil Baijal on Friday, the agency said it will also work towards ensuring adequate health infrastructure, medical oxygen and availability of essential drugs, by August 31. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is also the vice-chairperson of the DDMA, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and health minister Satyendar Jain also attended the meeting, along with NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul, AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria, ICMR director general Dr Balram Bhargava and NCDC director Dr Sujit Singh.
“After detailed discussion with experts, it was decided to undertake aggressive and targeted surveillance and testing in areas, locations and specific activities to ascertain and address any trends of concern. The experts stressed upon continued vigil and caution, and suggested that all steps related to preparedness for any probable surge in infections, in terms of hospital infrastructure, oxygen and drugs availability, should be put in place and operationalised by the end of August,” said a senior DDMA official present in the meeting.
The official further said, “It was also suggested that the comfort provided by the current controlled situation be utilised for undertaking an advanced sero-survey that takes into account extended epidemiological dimensions so as to identify susceptible pools (with regard to potential infection) and augment the genome sequencing efforts with an aim of prioritising vaccination. The Health Department was accordingly advised. They also suggesting analysing granular data to figure out trends which will help develop location-based measures.”
Delhi on Friday recorded 44 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours with a positivity rate of 0.06%. At its peak, the city recorded around 28,400 cases in a day on April 20 and a positivity rate exceeding 36% on April 22. In the fourth wave of the pandemic – that coincided with the country’s second – in Delhi, the healthcare system was overburdened and the city faced a severe shortage of medical oxygen that contributed to deaths of Covid-19 patients.
Another senior DDMA official, who also attended Friday’s meeting, said, “Experts present in the meeting lauded the Delhi government’s efforts to control the second wave and bringing back a stabilised environment in Delhi. They suggested that focus should be on increasing the pace of vaccination at this stage.”
Dr Lalit Kant, former head of the epidemiology and communicable diseases division at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said, “At this stage, the government should focus on micro containment efforts. Also, they should focus on location specific strategies with regard to tests, awareness drives and vaccination. The DDMA is working in the right direction regarding this policy. Things should be controlled at an early stage.”