COVID-19 - PM asks States to increase testing & ensure 100% RT-PCR tests
By TIOL News Service
NEW DELHI, SEPT 24, 2020: PRIME Minister, Narendra Modi, yesterday interacted with Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh via video conferencing to review status and response to COVID-19.
Prime Minister remarked that the day marks the second anniversary of Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana, and noted that in these two years, more than 1.25 crore poor patients have received free treatment under the scheme. He lauded the doctors and medical staff who are continuously engaged in serving the poor.
Review of States
Prime Minister said that coordination between the people and Government of Andhra Pradesh has resulted in the condition becoming better in the State. He expressed faith that the State will continue to keep up effective testing and tracing, and asked that a robust system of regular monitoring of patients in home isolation be developed. Stressing on the importance of saving each and every life, Prime Minister said that special focus is needed in 20 districts of Maharashtra with a greater number of cases. He suggested increasing RT-PCR testing in the State to five times of the current level.
Prime Minister said that Karnataka had developed a scientific mechanism of tracing and tracking, which has proved to be of immense benefit to the State. He noted that 9 districts of the State have a high fatality rate, which needs urgent attention. He suggested increasing RT-PCR testing to three times of the current level, effective surveillance and contract tracing, along with focussing on behaviour change with regards to mask and sanitation. Talking about the situation in Delhi , Prime Minister said that with the combined effort of the people, the State government and the Central government, the situation was brought under control. He stressed on increasing RT-PCR tests and also conducting these tests for all symptomatic people who have tested negative through Antigen test. Prime Minister noted that while Punjab had initially managed to control the infection, but now most deaths due to COVID are happening in the State, a big reason for which is the delay in patients reaching hospitals. He said that the State needs to come up with an awareness campaign to tackle the challenge. He expressed faith that the State will be able to bring down test positivity rate and case fatality rate.
Prime Minister said that the State of Tamil Nadu has come up as an example worth emulating, with its strategy of large scale testing and tracing, which has resulted in stabilization and reductions of daily cases. He noted that greater focus on reducing case fatality rate is needed in 7 districts of the State. He said that for telemedicine, the State has made good use of the e-Sanjeevani application, and added that the experience of Tamil Nadu will definitely prove beneficial for other States as well. Noting that Uttar Pradesh is the most populous State and witnessed the return of a huge number of labourers, Prime Minister said that the State still managed to effectively control the situation through widening the testing net. He expressed faith that the State will further strengthen contact tracing on a war footing. He noted that there are 16 districts in the State where more than 100 cases are being reported daily, adding that mapping of infected regions and greater focus is necessary, along with continuously making people aware of using masks and maintaining do gaz doori .
More funds to fight the virus
Noting that while the number of cases is increasing, the Prime Minister said that the country is also conducting more than 10 lakh tests daily, and the number of patients recovering is fast increasing. He said that there is a need to further strengthen health infrastructure to tackle COVID, improve the network of tracking and tracing, and ensure better training. He announced that the limit of using the State Disaster Response Fund for COVID specific infrastructure has been increased from 35% to 50%, noting that the decision will help States have more finances at their disposal to fight the virus.
Prime Minister exhorted the States to assess the efficacy of local lockdowns of 1-2 days in controlling the spread of the virus, asking if the decision is preventing kickstart of economic activities in the States. He said that the country needs to not only keep fighting the virus, but also move ahead boldly on the economic front.
Testing, tracing, treatment, surveillance and messaging
Prime Minister stressed on the need to increase focus on effective testing, tracing, treatment, surveillance and clear messaging. He noted that effective messaging is necessary due to the asymptomatic nature of the infection which may lead to doubts about the efficacy of tests. He also laid emphasis on developing the habit of using masks on a daily basis..
Prime Minister underlined the importance of ensuring smooth movement of goods and services between States. He noted the difficulties faced by some States recently in procuring oxygen supply, adding that ensuring availability of medical oxygen is of utmost importance. He also talked about facilitating movement to ensure availability of medicines across States.
In the meeting, Home Minister noted that the country strengthened its health infrastructure during the lockdowns to fight the virus. He said that both States as well as Districts need to be prepared and ready to fight the virus, adding that guidelines will be prepared for the same, for which inputs received during the meeting will prove handy.
Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, gave a detailed presentation, which mentioned that these 7 States are contributing to 62% of active cases in the country and approximately 77% of the deaths due to COVID. The presentation highlighted the districts of concern in terms of case trajectory, tests conducted, fatality and sample positivity rate in these states.
Chief Ministers Speak
The Chief Ministers appreciated the leadership of the Prime Minister during this crisis period. They gave feedback to the Prime Minister about the situation on the ground, talked about the challenges being faced by their States in controlling the spread of the virus and the preparation done till now to meet the expanding challenges by ramping up health infrastructure.
They also recounted the efforts by their governments to destigmatize and create public awareness, efforts undertaken to contain fatality rate, starting post-COVID clinics, increase in testing and other such measures undertaken by them.