Create Makeshift Hospitals, Focus on Rural Areas: Centre Asks States to Prepare for ‘Potential’ Covid Surge

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Saturday wrote to Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories on measures to deal with a “potential” surge in the number of Covid cases in the coming days and has asked to create makeshift hospitals, ramp up ICU beds, focus on rural areas and pediatric cases, use hotel rooms as isolation wards for patients with mild symptoms and review availability of oxygen and drugs regularly.

The health secretary also asked states to monitor home isolation and constitute special teams to monitor cases of home isolation and monitoring such patients.

“All states must ensure that control rooms at the district level or sub-district/ward level are made functional. A clearly defined mechanism to access testing, ambulance, and hospital beds need to be put in place and communicated to the public at large. A mechanism wherein citizens can call and get an ambulance and a bed in a transparent manned needs to be operationalized,” the letter reads.

Rajesh Bhushan has also asked states to focus on rural areas and pediatric cases. States need to regularly review the availability of required logistics, oxygen availability, and buffer stock of drugs across all health facilities in the state, he said.

In India, the case trajectory is also showcasing an upward trend with 16,764 cases reported on December 31, highest ever single day rise in past 70 days, the letter noted. It added that the developed nations in Europe and US are reporting significant rise in the past few weeks.

The letter comes after the centre said a rise in Covid-19 cases since December 26 could be part of a global upsurge linked to Omicron, with daily new cases crossing 10,000 and India’s R-Naught value currently at 1.22, indicating a wider spread in cases.

The Centre has asked eight states and UTs, witnessing surge in Covid-19 cases, to enhance testing, strengthen hospital preparedness, increase the pace of vaccination.

Meanwhile, India saw a single-day rise of 22,775 new Covid-19 cases, highest since October 6, while the number of active cases surpassed one lakh and Omicron infection tally reached 1,431, the Union Health Ministry said on Saturday. India logged 161 fresh Omicron infections, taking the total tally of such cases in the country to 1,431.

Of the 1,431 patients infected with the Omicron variant of the virus so far, 374 have either recuperated or migrated, according to the ministry’s data updated at 8 am. The country also recorded 22,775 fresh COVID-19 cases and 406 more fatalities due to the viral disease.

Maharashtra recorded the maximum number of 454 new cases followed by Delhi at 351, Kerala 118 and Gujarat 115. The fresh cases raised India’s tally of Covid-19 cases to 3,48,61,579, while the active cases increased to 1,04,781, according to the latest data.

(with inputs from PTI)

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