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Focus on house-to-house survey, prompt testing: Health ministry to officials of 45 civic bodies


New Delhi, June 08: The Union Health Ministry on Monday asked officials of 45 civic bodies across 38 districts in 10 states, which account for around 78 per cent of the country's total COVID-19 cases, to bolster house-to-house surveys, prompt testing and surveillance measures to contain the infection and reduce mortality.

Focus on house-to-house survey, prompt testing: Health ministry to officials of 45 civic bodies

Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan along with senior officers of the ministry held a high level review meeting, via video conference, with the district collectors, municipal commissioners, superintendents of district hospitals and principals of medical colleges from 45 municipal corporations. The 38 districts are from Maharashtra, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh and are witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases, officials said.

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    "These 45 municipalities and municipal corporations from 38 districts account for around 78 per cent of the total COVID-19 cases in the country," an official source said. The cases are doubling faster in these areas and the positivity and the fatality rate are high, which is a major cause of concern, the source added.

    Officials were also advised to ensure that labs return the testing results on time to ensure early identification and timely treatment of patients.

    "In view of the easing of lockdown and lifting of curbs, states were advised to make a district-wise prospective plan for the coming months," the Union Health ministry said. During the meeting, issues discussed included widespread infection in densely populated urban areas, with areas that shared public amenities, importance of house-to-house surveys, prompt testing, clinical management of cases and containment strategy which needs to be implemented, it said.

    "The state officials were advised on the measures in the containment zones for case management and buffer zones surveillance activities and promotion of COVID appropriate behaviour," the ministry said.

    To reduce the case fatality rate, officials were briefed on measures that include prioritising high-risk and vulnerable segments like elderly people and those with comorbidities while contact-tracing to prevent deaths. They were also asked to focus on active surveillance measures, adequate testing and promoting health seeking behaviour for timely detection of cases. The officials were also asked to ensure timely shifting of patients without escalating the symptoms, the ministry said.

    In terms of infrastructure and human resource management for containment of COVID-19, the Health Ministry said proper planning for health infrastructure should be taken up, adequate number of surveillance teams should be provided and a system should be put in place for bed availability management. Centres of Excellence can provide hand-holding for medical professionals, it said and added that senior officers should be deployed for hospitals to offer help to citizens to find health services as per their need. On field governance, municipal authorities were advised to take leadership and put the entire municipal infrastructure for containment measures using the 'whole of government approach'.

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    The ministry also highlighted that along with COVID-19 management efforts, care needs to be given to regular and essential health services that are also available for the citizens. Officials were asked to focus on areas like active house-to-house survey for timely detection, augmentation of the survey teams, efficient ambulance management, efficient triaging of patients at the hospitals and bed management, clinical management of the hospitalised cases through rotational 24x7 teams to ensure reduction in the fatality rates, the ministry said in the statement. It was also suggested that elected representatives in the rural areas should be involved to help cooperate with district health authorities to build confidence and timely accessing of available health services.

    The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 7,200 and the number of cases climbed to 2,56,611 in the country, registering an increase of 271 deaths and a record single-day jump of 9,983 cases till Monday 8 PM, according to revised Union Health Ministry data.

    The number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 1,24,981 while 1,24,430 people have recovered so far with 5,137 patients getting cured in the last 24 hours, the ministry said. "Thus, around 48.49 per cent patients have recovered so far," the statement said.

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