Govt may rush Covid teams to more states
Union health ministry said in a statement on Friday that the teams will visit the districts reporting high number of cases and support the State efforts towards strengthening containment, surveillance, testing, infection prevention and control measures, and efficient clinical management of the positive cases.Updated: Nov 21, 2020, 05:16 IST
After sending high-level teams to four states to take stock of the Covid-19 situation, the Centre is considering rushing more expert teams to other states and Union territories (UTs) reporting a rise in new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) infections. These teams will assist the local administration in disease management.
“The teams will visit the districts reporting high number of COVID cases and support the State efforts towards strengthening containment, surveillance, testing, infection prevention and control measures, and efficient clinical management of the positive cases,” the Union health ministry said in a statement on Friday.
On Thursday, the ministry announced it was sending teams to Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Manipur to take stock of the situation.
Dr Randeep Guleria, director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, is leading the three-member team to Haryana. Dr VK Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog, is heading the Rajasthan team. Dr SK Singh, director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), is leading the Gujarat team, while Dr L Swasticharan, additional deputy director general, directorate general of health services of the health ministry, is heading the team to Manipur.
In at least two of the states — Haryana and Manipur — Covid-19 cases per million is higher than the national average. While the national average stood at 6,492 cases per million, the figure in Haryana and Manipur was 7,341 and 7,219, respectively. While Gujarat has 3,000 cases per million, the number in Rajasthan stands at 2,867.
“With the surge in the daily new cases and the spike in the daily fatalities in UT of Delhi, the spillover effect is being observed in the NCR regions within the states of Haryana and Rajasthan where the number of COVID positive patients is on the rise,” the statement added.
The health ministry also advised states on Friday to adopt aggressive and widespread testing to ensure that undetected positive Covid-19 cases are promptly identified for timely and effective tracing, containment and subsequent treatment.
“There is no other way to pick up infections early but to increase testing. The more you test, better are the chances of not missing the infected, especially asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic patients who otherwise will be moving within society and spread infection,” said Dr T Jacob John, former head, department of virology, Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore (Tamil Nadu).
High levels of widespread testing have ensured that the cumulative positivity rate across the country is sustained at low levels. According to government data, the cumulative national Covid-19 positivity rate stands at 6.95% as of Friday. According to experts, higher volumes of testing eventually lead to a low positivity rate. And for disease transmission to be termed under control, the positivity rate ideally should be either 5% or below.
At least 20 states and Union territories currently are reporting a cumulative positivity rate lower than the national average of 6.95%. Six states are reporting a positivity rate below 5%. These are Bihar (1.81%), Uttar Pradesh (2.95%), Jharkhand (2.99%), Gujarat (3.09%) where certain districts are reporting higher number of cases, Assam (4.84%), and Punjab (4.93%).
“As an ongoing effort to strengthen efforts of various State/UT Governments for COVID management, the Central Government has been deputing Central teams from time to time to visit various States/UTs. These teams interact with the State/UT authorities and get a first hand understanding of the challenges and issues being faced by them so as to strengthen their ongoing activities and remove bottlenecks, if any,” the health ministry said on Friday.