Amid COVID-19 scare, Centre issues readiness alert for states, UTs
The Centre has issued fresh instructions to states and union territories to undertake mock COVID-19 preparation and response drills at health facilities. The availability of beds, human resources, logistics, and the supply chain for medical oxygen will be the main focus of the mock drills scheduled for Tuesday. The directive comes amid the coronavirus outbreak in China that has sparked a worldwide panic.
Why does this story matter?
- The recent surge in coronavirus infections in China has triggered a global scare and alerted the Indian government too.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened a high-level meeting with experts on Thursday to review India's COVID-19 situation.
- So far, India has reported four cases of the Omicron BF.7 subvariant, which appears to be the reason behind the latest spike in COVID-19 infections in China.
Mock drills at all health facilities to check preparedness
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to all states and union territories on Saturday and urged them to put all the required health measures in place so they can respond to any COVID-19-related emergency. "It has therefore been decided to hold [mock drills] at all health facilities (including identified COVID-19-dedicated health facilities) across the country on Tuesday, 27th December 2022," the Union Health Ministry said.
Availability of beds tops the checklist
The primary areas of focus for the simulated exercises were also listed by Health Secretary Bhushan. Top on the list was to check the availability of beds in the wards for isolation and life support, too. "Geographically representative availability of health facilities—covering all districts (must be checked). Bed capacities—isolation beds, oxygen-supported isolation beds, ICU beds, and ventilator-supported beds," the letter said.
Ensure the availability of required staff, Centre urged states
During the drills, attention would also be paid to the medical professionals—including physicians, nurses, and paramedics—needed to handle any surge in COVID-19 cases. The number of AYUSH practitioners and frontline workers, such as Anganwadi workers, will also be assessed during the drills. By ensuring the availability of RT-PCR and rapid antigen test kits, the mock drill will also work to boost COVID-19 testing capacity.
Mayhem during second wave due to lack of oxygen, beds
During the second wave of coronavirus in 2021, which brought the healthcare system to its knees, India saw mayhem. Deaths of COVID-19 patients in all states/UTs were recorded owing to the lack of medical oxygen and hospital beds. The medical oxygen crisis had left many gasping. As a result, these aspects would be the primary focus areas of the government's upcoming mock drills.
A little about Omicron BF.7 subvariant
BF.7, short for BA.22.214.171.124, is a sublineage of Omicron's BA.5 subvariant. Notably, BA.5 and BA.4 never became dominant in India, and the January 2021 COVID-19 wave was also driven by BA.1 and BA.2 subvariants. However, India is unlikely to be severely impacted by BF.7. The reason behind BF.7's rapid spread in China is said to be the immunologically naive population, reported The Indian Express.
India reports 227 new COVID-19 cases
India recorded 227 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry data revealed on Sunday. With this, the country's active caseload stood at 3,424, which accounts for approximately 0.01% of the total cases in India. The recovery rate is currently 98.8%. A total of 198 recoveries were reported in the past 24 hours, taking the total recovery numbers to 4,41,42,989.