India is in the midst of a second Covid-19 wave as it reported over 1 lakh new infections for the fifth consecutive day on Sunday. While Maharashtra has been leading the rise in cases, accounting for roughly half of the active cases in the country, Punjab and Chhattisgarh have also recently emerged as big contributors to India’s Covid caseload.
In light of this, the Central government had rushed 50 high level multi-disciplinary public health teams to 50 districts across Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Punjab on April 6.
Here is what the health secretary told the three states in his letters to the chief secretaries:
‘Containment operations found to be sub-optimal in Maharashtra, acute shortage of health workers in some districts’
Based on the feedback from the centre team, Bhushan, in his letter to Maharashtra, said “containment operations were found to be sub-optimal in Satara, Sangli and Aurangabad, with less than satisfactory perimeter control, lack of active surveillance for influenza like illness(ILI) cases. Efforts at surveillance and contact tracing were found to be sub-optimal in Buldhana, Satara, Aurgangabad and Nanded, mostly due to limited manpower engaged in this task.”
“Acute shortage of healthcare workforce has been reported by the teams from Aurangabad, Nandurabar, Yawatmal, Satara, Palghar, Jalgoan, Jalna Districts. Rostering of health care workers, hiring of contractual health workers need to be expedited,” wrote Bhushan.
The health secretary also said the Centre has taken note of issues related to vaccine availability in the state.
‘Need to enhance focus on contact tracing in Patiala, Ludhiana, slow pace of vaccination’
For Punjab, Bhushan directed the state adminstration to look at enhancing its focus on contract tracing, with particular emphasis on Ludhiana and Patiala.
“There is a need to enhance focus on contact tracing in Patiala and Ludhiana. Contact tracing and surveillance efforts in SAS Nagar are being hampered due to shortage of manpower. Additional manpower must be deployed for contact tracing on a priority basis,” wrote Bhushan.
“The team to Patiala and Ludhiana have reported slow pace of Covid-19 vaccination among persons > 45 years (with co-morbidities) and those above 60 years, This also needs to be addressed on priority,” Bhushan further said.
‘Lack of perimeter control in containment zones, hospital bed occupancy high’
Meanwhile in the letter to Chhattisgarh, Bhushan said he has received feedback from the Central team which points to strictly maintain the containment zones.
“The team from Raipur, Jashpur has reported lack of perimeter control in containment zones. There appears to be no restriction on movement of people inside containment zones too. Hence, Containment Zone including micro Containment Zones need to be strictly implemented.” said Bhushan.
“Hospital bed occupancy rates are high in Balod, Raipur, Durg and Mahasamund Districts. The District administration needs to. ramp up hospital infrastructure and other logistic requirement to meet any demand arising due to surge in cases. Similarly, shortage of Remdesivir, Low Molecular Weight Heparin needs urgent attention in Korba District,” Bhushan further wrote.