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Centre rushes high-level support teams to 10 States, UT as COVID-19 cases rise

By TIOL News Service

NEW DELHI, FEB 24, 2021: THE Centre has deputed high-level multidisciplinary teams to nine States and a Union Territory (UT), for supporting them in public health measures for targeted COVID-19 response and management as daily cases surged once more in the past week.

Three-member multidisciplinary teams, headed by joint secretary level officers from the Health Ministry will be deployed to Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Jammu and Kashmir.

The States have reported an average of more than 100 daily new cases in the last one week. Maharashtra reported 6,218 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, followed by Kerala with 4,034, Tamil Nadu with 442, Punjab with 414, Karnataka with 383 and Gujarat with 348.

"These teams will work closely with the States/UT administration and ascertain reasons for recent surge in the number of COVID-19 cases," said an official statement. They will also coordinate with the local health authorities for requisite COVID-19 control measures to break the chain of transmission.

"The States/UT have been advised for regular critical review of the emerging situation with concerned district officials to ensure that gains made so far in COVID management are not lost," it emphasised.

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 written by the Health Secretary Mr Rajesh Bhushan, he has exhorted the State governments to focus on undertaking aggressive measures to break the chain of transmission and increase testing in the affected districts.

The States have been asked 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 positive persons must be promptly isolated or hospitalised, all their close contacts be traced and also tested without delay.

The Centre 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.