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COVID-19: Centre asks states to focus on strict enforcement of guidelines and increase RT-PCR testing

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired a high-level review meeting with chief secretaries of states and UTs of Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Telangana and Jammu and Kashmir.

February 27, 2021 / 05:37 PM IST
File image: A healthcare worker in personal protective equipment collects a swab sample from a resident during a testing campaign for COVID-19 in Mumbai, India on February 23, 2021. (Image: Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas)

File image: A healthcare worker in personal protective equipment collects a swab sample from a resident during a testing campaign for COVID-19 in Mumbai, India on February 23, 2021. (Image: Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas)

The Centre on February 27, advised states and UTs reporting an increase in coronavirus cases to enforce COVID-appropriate behaviour by dealing firmly with violations and ensure effective surveillance in case of potential super spreading events so as not to squander last year's gains.

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired a high-level review meeting with chief secretaries of states and UTs of Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Telangana and Jammu and Kashmir.

These states and UTs have been reporting a high COVID-19 active caseload or an increasing trend in new cases in the last week. "They were advised not to lower their guard, enforce COVID appropriate behaviour and deal firmly with violations.

It was strongly underlined that they need to follow effective surveillance strategies in respect of potential super spreading events," the Union Health Ministry said in a statement.

The need for effective testing, comprehensive tracking, prompt isolation of positive cases and quick quarantine of close contacts were also strongly emphasised. During the review meeting, states were advised to undertake vaccination on priority in districts reporting higher cases and monitor mutant strain and clustering of cases for early hotspot identification and control, the statement.

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A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

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They have also been asked to improve the overall testing in districts reporting a reduction in testing, and increase RT- PCR tests in districts having high antigen testing.

The states and UT were asked to refocus on surveillance and stringent containment in selected districts reporting reduced tests/high positivity and increased cases.

They have also been asked to focus on clinical management in districts reporting higher deaths and promote COVID-appropriate behaviour to ensure effective citizen communication to not let complacency set in, especially in light of vaccination drive entering the next phase, and enforcing stringent social distancing measures.

Six states Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat- have shown a surge in new cases in a span of 24 hours. Six states Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat- have shown a surge in new cases in a span of 24 hours.

Maharashtra continues to report the highest daily new cases at 8,333. It is followed by Kerala with 3,671 while Punjab reported 622 new cases in the last 24 hours.

In the last two weeks, Maharashtra has shown the highest rise in active cases from 34,449 on February 14 to 68,810 currently, the ministry said.

A detailed presentation was made on the current status of COVID-19 in these states with a focus on districts reporting an increasing number of new cases or positivity.

This was followed by a comprehensive review with all the states and UTs. The chief secretaries briefed about the current situation in the states and their preparedness to tackle the recent spike of COVID cases.

They informed about the enforcement of COVID appropriate behaviour by levying heavy fines and challans, reviewing the surveillance and containment activities closely with the district collectors, and other steps being taken in line with the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare(MoHFW) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The Cabinet Secretary reiterated that states need to maintain a continued rigorous vigil in terms of containing the spread and not squander away the gains of the collective hard work of the last year.

 
PTI

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