Keep a close watch on evolving aetiologies: Advisory on COVID
A gradual but sustained increase in the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in the country is being witnessed since mid-February 2023.
NEW DELHI: Amid rising cases of COVID-19 across the country, the Centre on Saturday issued a joint advisory underlining the need to keep a close watch on the evolving aetiologies. The advisory has been issued jointly by the DG, Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr Rajiv Bahl, and Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, advising to keep watching the cause of disease.
"A gradual but sustained increase in the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in the country is being witnessed since mid-February 2023. As of date, most of the active cases in the country are largely being reported by a few states like Kerala (26.4 percent), Maharashtra (21.7 percent), Gujarat (13.9 percent), Karnataka (8.6 percent), and Tamil Nadu (6.3 percent). While the rates of hospitalisation and death due to the disease remain low, largely because of the significant coverage achieved in terms of COVID-19 vaccination rates by all states and UTs, this gradual rise in cases needs reinvigorated public health actions to contain the surge," said the advisory.
The advisory reads further, "States and UTs must keep a close watch on the evolving aetiologies (causes of diseases) of influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) cases. India usually sees a seasonal rise in influenza cases from January to March and again from August to October. Presently, the most prominent subtypes of influenza in circulation in the country seem to be influenza A (H1N1) and influenza A (H3N2)."
The states have been told that COVID and influenza share a number of similarities in terms of mode of transmission, high-risk population, and clinical signs and symptoms. While this may present a clinical dilemma for the attending doctors in terms of diagnosis, this also renders both of these diseases easily preventable by following simple public health measures like avoiding overcrowded and poorly ventilated settings and wearing a mask in crowded and closed settings, the advisory reads.
The Centre has also advised taking stock of hospital preparedness, including drugs, beds, including ICU beds, medical equipment, medical oxygen, capacity building of human resources based on existing guidelines, as well as vaccination coverage.
The advisory has also flagged low levels of testing by states and UTs and said that testing levels are insufficient as compared to the standards prescribed by the WHO, i.e., 140 tests per million.
"Testing at the level of districts and blocks also varies, with some states heavily relying on the less sensitive rapid antigen tests. Hence, it is critical to maintain optimal testing for COVID-19, equitably distributed across the states," said the advisory. (IANS)
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