“Test, Track, Treat, Vaccinate and COVID

Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare virtually interacted with State Health Ministers and Principal Secretaries/ Additional Chief Secretaries of States/UTs to review the Public Health Preparedness to COVID19 and progress of National COVID19 vaccination campaign. Officiated by the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, the meeting was held in view of the rising cases of the Omicron variant and the recent decisions to roll-out vaccination for the age group 15-18 years, which started today, and precautionary dose for identified vulnerable categories.

The Union Health Minister stated that the Omicron variant being highly transmissible, a high surge in cases can overwhelm the medical system. He advised the states to leave no stone unturned in ramping up infrastructure to manage a high surge so that India escapes unharmed from the current episode of COVID-19. According to the health ministry data, the country reported 33,750 Covid cases, 123 deaths in the last 24 hours. India’s Omicron tally touched 1700 with a number of states reporting fresh cases.

Dr. Mandaviya shared that the measures for preparedness and protection remain the same and urged the states to strengthen their teams to work at the ground level and strengthen monitoring & containment mechanisms. Comprehensive and detailed discussion on various aspects of COVID management including ramping up of hospital infrastructure; increased testing; stringent restrictive measures for breaking the chain of transmission; and stress on COVID appropriate behaviour among the masses was also discussed along with critical bottlenecks in medical infrastructure.

Applauding the dedication and patience shown by state administrations in their fight against the pandemic and in simultaneously ensuring the welfare of the people, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya said, “We have put up a strong fight against Covid earlier and this learning must be used to re-focus on efforts against the Omicron variant.” The health minister also urged states to ensure that the healthcare workers and frontline workers are fully vaccinated, as they form the vulnerable categories.

States were also advised to prepare a weekly plan to catch up & exceed the average national vaccination coverage and review the implementation of this plan on a daily basis at the level of Secretary/ACS Health [with special emphasis in 5 poll-bound States of Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Manipur].

Stressing on the need to ensure smooth implementation of new vaccination guidelines, States/UTs were advised to ensure the orientation of vaccinators and vaccination team members for vaccination of 15-18 years age-group and the identification of dedicated session sites for vaccination of 15-18 years age-group that kick started today.

Dr Mansukh Mandaviya also pointed out that various measures are being taken by the Union Government to ramp up infrastructure development and vaccine production in the country. He requested states/UTs to share their best practices so that the entire country can benefit.

Vikas Sheel, Additonal Secretary and MD, NHM spoke on the status of infrastructure development and utilisation of ECRP II funds by states through a detailed presentation. Dr. Manohar Agnani, Additonal Secretary (Health) presented the update on the status of vaccination in the country. Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry presented a granular analysis of the COVID trajectory in the States and suggested the ramping up of testing, surveillance and containment mechanisms to address the recent surge in cases.

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