Dr. P. K. Mishra, Principal Secretary to PM chairs high level meeting to review status of public health response to COVID-19

In view of the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases noted across India recently, Dr. P.K. Mishra Principal Secretary to Prime Minister chaired a high-level meeting to assess the COVID-19 situation in the country with focus on status of preparedness of health infrastructure and logistics, drugs, vaccination campaign in the country and the key necessary steps as a response to recent surge in Covid-19 cases.

The meeting was attended by Shri. Rajiv Gauba, Cabinet Secretary; Dr. Vinod Paul, Member NITI Aayog; Shri. T.V. Somanathan, Finance Secretary; Shri. Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Smt. S. Aparna, Secretary Pharmaceuticals; Shri Rajiv Bansal, Secretary, Civil Aviation; Shri. Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary, AYUSH; Shri. Rajiv Bahl, Secretary DHR and DG ICMR; Shri. Rajesh S Gokhale, Secretary Biotechnology and Shri. Apurva Chandra, Secretary, Information and Broadcasting;

A comprehensive presentation was made by Shri Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Health and Family Welfare providing overview of the global COVID-19 situation. He highlighted that India has been witnessing a rapid increase in the number of Covid-19 cases with majority of cases being reported in 8 states (Kerala, Delhi, Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Rajasthan). Further the sudden increase in the positivity was also highlighted along with status of tests being conducted in the country. A detailed analysis of Active cases within these 8 states were presented and it was highlighted that approximately 92% of the cases are under home isolation.

The presentation also provided an overview of the Genome Sequencing of different variants since January 2023 and noted the proportion of circulating variants in India. The status of vaccination was discussed, followed by drug availability and infrastructure preparedness across the country. As per directions of Hon’ble Prime Minister, a nationwide mock drill for assessment of functional infrastructure was conducted and the status of Mock drill was presented to participants. Further, the expenditure of COVID-19 vaccination programme and budget provisions for drugs and vaccine raw materials were also reviewed.

Health Secretary also informed that States have already been advised that they may take steps for procurement of requisite Covid vaccine doses directly from the manufacturers at their end without any prior approvals from Union Ministry of Health. Private Hospitals situated in the States may also directly procure such Vaccines from the manufacturer These vaccines once procured may be administered as per the existing Covid vaccination guidelines.

After the detailed presentation, Dr. P.K. Mishra highlighted that for managing localized surges it is essential that sufficient health infrastructure should be available at sub-district level and the same may be ensured in consultation with States. He further exhorted that the advisories for guiding States should be assessed based on evolving scenario and updated accordingly.

Further, the attendees deliberated that it is critical to focus on identification of emerging hotspots and States should monitor trends of ILI/SARI cases, send sufficient samples for testing of Covid-19, and ramp up of Whole Genome Sequencing.

Dr. P.K. Mishra stressed that the time tested 5-fold strategy of Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination & adherence COVID Appropriate Behaviour must continue to be implemented and equally crucial to promote awareness within community regarding COVID appropriate behaviour and caution citizens against complacency.

He advised officials to maintain a strict vigil on the Covid-19 situation and take necessary actions to contain the COVID-19 spread.

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