India's 70 per cent coronavirus COVID-19 cases are from 11 municipal areas spread across seven states and UTs and top health ministry officials on Saturday held a meeting with senior officials from these areas. These areas are in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and Rajasthan.
So far, a total of 51,784 people have been cured with 3,250 patients cured in the last 24 hours. This takes the total recovery rate to 41.39 per cent. The total number of confirmed cases as of 11.25 pm on May 23 stands at 1,25,101. Since May 22, an increase of 6654 has been noted in the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in India. The overall death toll stands at 3720.
During the meeting, it was informed that a major challenge lies in those corporations having shorter doubling time, higher mortality rate and a higher confirmation rate than the national average. The officials were briefed about the factors to be considered while mapping the containment and buffer zones; the activities mandated in containment zone like perimeter control, active search for cases through house to house surveillance, contact tracing, testing protocol, clinical management of the active cases; surveillance activities in the buffer zone like monitoring of SARI/ILI cases, ensuring social distancing, promoting hand hygiene etc.
Maintaining high vigilance and monitoring in areas of old cities, urban slums and other high-density pockets along with the camps/clusters for migrant workers are important steps in COVID-19 management in the urban areas.
It was pointed out that the focus needs to be on prevention through active screening of high risk and vulnerable population and groups, and effective and sturdy clinical management of the admitted cases to reduce the fatality rate. While many have operationalised 24x7 state control rooms, others could also follow the lead and start such units which shall not only provide assistance to the people for various facilities/services regarding COVID-19 management but also have a panel of domain experts and doctors to provide round the clock support and mentoring for clinical issues which shall effectively contribute to reducing fatality rate.
The testing needs to be stepped up in some municipal areas to ensure early detection of cases, timely clinical management and a reduction in fatality rate, it was said. They have been asked to be mindful of ramping up the health infrastructure to ensure preparedness for the next two months with special focus on isolation beds with oxygen, ventilators and ICU beds.
Other issues that need focused attention include active coordination with government and private labs to address delays in sample collection, partnership with private hospitals to augment the health/bed capacity, waste disposal and disinfection of COVID positive areas, management of camps for migrant labourers, creating awareness regarding issues such as stigmatization of patients and medical professionals in local languages, actively involving community leaders, youth groups, NGOs and SHGs in accompanying surveillance teams for awareness and confidence-building measures.
The measures are taken and best practices followed by the municipal corporations for the management of COVID-19 cases were also discussed. Mumbai Municipal Commissioner briefed about establishing close cooperation between private hospitals and municipal authorities to pool the health infrastructure like ICU beds/ oxygen beds etc. They shall also soon make public the online portal displaying the bed availability with unique ID numbers for each bed, and also set up a GPS backed online ambulance tracking system.
Indore authorities have focused on contact tracing, and active house to house survey. They have formed ‘gully patrolling teams’ which include community volunteers and retired government officials helping the special surveillance teams in containment zones to improve confidence-building measures, active surveillance, and provisioning of essential items.
Health Secretary Preeti Sudan and MoHFW OSD Rajesh Bhushan, along with senior officers of the Health Ministry held the meeting (through video conference) with the Health Secretaries, Urban Development Secretaries, Municipal Commissioners, Mission Directors (NHM) and other officials from the 11 areas.