PM emphasises the need to enhance lab surveillance & testing of all Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) cases & ramp up genome sequencing
PM Modi yesterday chaired a high-level meeting to assess the COVID-19 & influenza situation in the country in terms of preparedness of health infrastructure & logistics, status of the vaccination campaign, emergence of new COVID-19 variants & influenza types and their public health implications for the country. This high-level review meeting comes in the backdrop of a spike in influenza cases in the country & rise of COVID-19 cases in the past 2 weeks.
A comprehensive presentation was made covering the global COVID-19 situation including the rising cases in India by Secretary, Health, MoHFW. The PM was briefed that India has been witnessing a slight rise in new cases with average daily cases reported as 888 and weekly positivity reported as 0.98 per cent in the week ending 22nd Mar, 2023. However, 1.08 lakh daily average cases have been reported globally during the same week.
The action taken on the directions given by PM during the last COVID-19 review held on 22nd Dec 2022 were also briefed. He was informed that availability and prices of 20 main COVID drugs, 12 other drugs, 8 buffer drugs and 1 influenza drug is being monitored. A mock drill was also conducted on 27th December 2022 in 22,000 hospitals, and many remedial measures taken by hospitals thereafter.
The PM was apprised on the influenza situation in the country particularly with respect to higher number of cases of H1N1 and H3N2 being noted in last few months.
He directed officials to enhance Whole Genome Sequencing of positive samples with the designated INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories. This will support tracking of newer variants, if any, and timely response.
PM emphasised COVID appropriate behaviour including wearing of masks in hospital premises by both patients, health professionals and health workers. He also stressed that wearing of masks is advisable when senior citizens and those with co-morbidities visit crowded areas.
He directed that effective monitoring of IRI/SARI cases, and testing for influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and Adenovirus be followed up with States. Further, PM stressed the need to ensure availability of required drugs & logistics for influenza & COVID-19 across health facilities along with availability of sufficient beds & health human resources.
He highlighted that pandemic is far from over and there is a need to monitor the status across the country on regular basis. PM advised to continue focusing on 5-fold strategy of Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination & COVID appropriate behaviour, enhance Lab Surveillance & testing of all Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) cases. Mock drills should be conducted regularly to ensure that our hospitals are ready for all exigencies.
The meeting was attended by PK Mishra, Principal Secretary to PM; Dr V K Paul, Member (Health) NITI Aayog; Rajiv Gauba, Cabinet Secretary; Secretary, Health & Family Welfare; Secretary, Pharmaceuticals and Secretary, Biotechnology; DG, ICMR; Amit Khare, Advisor, PMO along with other senior officials.