Centre asks to take up surveillance for SARI, and ILI in unaffected areas

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Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan stated called upon states to focus on more effective surveillance, contact tracing and early diagnosis to keep low fatality rate”.

He said during an interaction with the Health Ministers of Tamilnadu, Telangana and Karnataka. He also spoke to the District Magistrates of various districts and discussed in detail the status and management of COVID-19 in their jurisdiction. He asked the ministers to take up the surveillance for Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI), Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) in unaffected districts and districts which have not reported cases from last 14 days and more through the IDSP network in collaboration with Medical Colleges and Hospitals. “Such measures will help to indicate the presence of any possible hidden infection at an early stage thus helping in its timely containment”, he added.

Dr Harsh Vardhan stressed, “States need to ensure adoption of Infection, Prevention & Control (IPC) practices in all healthcare settings to avoid, reduce chances of infections to health care workers. States were advised to ensure that all Central Guidelines/Advisories are implemented until the field level in earnest. The States informed about some of the best practices adopted at the District level such as the deployment of mobile testing laboratories and distribution of medicines for non-communicable diseases for a period of 2 months in advance in containment zones, home delivery of bleaching powder in slum areas and use of Tele-medicine as an alternative to OPD.

Union Health Minister appreciated the best practices shared by the District Magistrates and Commissioners and other officials of various districts like identification of community volunteers for distribution of necessary services, daily items as well as for creating awareness about Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) activities, deployment of mobile units in rural areas for ANC of pregnant women, screening and treatment of elderly patients suffering from non-communicable diseases etc.

Dr Harsh Vardhan appreciated the work done by the State Governments and the eradication shown by frontline health workers, Anganwadi workers, police and paramilitary personnel who are working beyond the call of duty in the interest of the nation. He reminded States to provide them preventive medicines and immunity boosters along with testing as and when required.

It was reiterated to the States that attention needs to be accorded to the provisioning of non-COVID essential health services such as immunisation drives, TB case tracing and treatment, providing blood transfusion for dialysis patients, treatment of cancer patients, ANC of pregnant women, etc. It was also stated that the Ayushman Bharat-Health & Wellness Centres could be used for screening for hypertension, diabetes and three types of cancers. Telemedicine and Tele-counselling could be used for a larger population in view of the lockdown. States have been advised to keep adequate stock of essential medicines. States were also informed that helpline number 104 in addition to 1075 can be used for Grievance Redressal for non-COVID essential services, and for informing regarding the availability of these services etc. Adequate measures for prevention of vector-borne diseases also need to be taken, they were advised.