Timely hospitalisation, more tests in NCR planUpdated: Jul 03, 2020 00:32 IST
Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi should coordinate their response to the Covid-19 outbreak by focussing on timely hospital access and using available tools for contact tracing, Union home minister Amit Shah advised its chief ministers on Thursday, stepping up efforts to contain the epidemic in the National Capital Region (NCR).
The matter was discussed at a meeting called by Shah to form a unified strategy in region that is home to close to 30 million people and has some of the country’s biggest industrial clusters, but is splintered into several cities and towns with distinct administrative structures.
Together, the four key cities – Delhi, Gurugram, Noida and Ghaziabad -- account for over 100,000 infections till now, with the Capital alone recording close to 90% of it. Delhi, however, also has close to 67% of the NCR population and the highest per capita testing in the country, which means it is likely to detect more of the outbreak.
The states must focus on saving lives by ensuring Covid-19 infected people who need to get to a hospital are able to do so on time, and that the administrations use platforms such as Aarogya Setu and ITIHAAS, the home minister told the three CMs: Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal, Haryana’s Manohar Lal Khattar and Uttar Pradesh’s Yogi Adityanath.
Separately, the Union minister suggested that UP and Haryana ramp up tests using rapid antigen kits “to help reduce infection transmission rate”, a statement by a spokesperson quoted Shah as telling these leaders. These kits can be provided by the Union government to UP and Haryana, the minister added, according to tweets by a home ministry spokesperson.
Aarogya Setu logs close contacts and location histories of people using smartphones, ITIHAAS is a location tracking system based on mobile network data – this can identify people who have basic phones as well.
Antigen tests – they take 30 minutes for a result while lab tests can take at least a day – have helped Delhi double the number of daily tests in the span of a month, helping bolster the tracing and treatment process. The turnaround came in mid-June after a slew of meetings between central and state government officials who gathered after cases in the Capital recorded a sharp, sustained spike.
Officials in the Delhi government did not respond to requests for a comment on the meeting.
The challenges of the divided administrative nature of NCR – where millions of people move between these cities for work and study – came to fore when Delhi decided to reserve its hospital beds for people who live in the city, a move that was later overturned; Haryana virtually sealed its border with Delhi on several occasions, blaming infections contracted in Delhi for fuelling their outbreak; and Noida and Ghaziabad have not opened the border for all commuters yet.
According to a home ministry spokesperson, the meeting lasted over an hour and included health minister Harsh Vardhan, Niti Aayog member VK Paul and several other senior officials through video-conferencing.
A Haryana government official, asking not to be named, said the Union government nudged the state government to “increase testing and bring down the positivity rate” – the proportion of positive cases per sample – in order to better detect the outbreak.