The Centre has deputed multi-disciplinary teams to states witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases, including Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujarat, Punjab, Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir, to support them in effectively tackling the pandemic.
The three–member multidisciplinary teams are headed by joint secretary level officers in the health ministry, the Union Health Ministry said.
“These teams will work closely with the states and UT administration and ascertain reasons for the recent surge in the number of COVID-19 cases. They will also coordinate with health authorities of the states and UT for requisite COVID-19 control measures to break the chain of transmission,” the ministry said.
The central teams have been deputed to Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir.
The states and UT have been advised for regular critical review of the emerging situation with district officials concerned to ensure that gains made so far in COVID-19 management are not lost, the ministry stated.
The Centre has also written to Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir which have been witnessing a rise in daily COVID cases, along with decreasing proportion of RT-PCR tests and rise in positivity in some districts.
In the letter, the Union Health Secretary has exhorted Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir to focus on undertaking aggressive measures to break the chain of transmission and to ensure that RT-PCR testing is amplified to flush out hitherto undetected cases from the population.
These states and UTs have been advised to increase testing in a focussed manner in the affected districts with the appropriate split of RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests and to also ensure that all symptomatic negatives of antigen tests are compulsorily tested via RT-PCR tests, the ministry said.
The positive persons must be promptly isolated/hospitalised, all their close contacts be traced and also tested without delay. The Centre has reminded the states and UTs that any laxity in implementing stringent measures to curb the spread, especially in view of new strain of virus observed in certain countries, could compound the situation.
The Union Health Secretary has separately requested the chief secretaries of these 10 states and UTs to provide time to these high level Central teams to debrief the respective chief secretaries at the conclusion of their state visits. These measures are in line with the Government of India’s graded and proactive approach to contain COVID across the country.
The health ministry has been regularly engaging with states and UTs that have been exhibiting either a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases, high caseload or reporting a higher mortality in some districts, the ministry said.
The teams interact with field authorities to get a first hand understanding of the challenges and issues being faced by them, it said.