Covid cases touch 4.46 crore, states hold mock drills to test readiness
DECCAN CHRONICLE | dc correspondent
New Delhi, Hyderabad: Many government hospitals across the country and in the state held drills on Tuesday, following an apparent revival of Covid in many countries. Underscoring the importance of the exercise, Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, who oversaw the drill at the Centre-run Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi, said it was important to gauge the operational readiness of equipment and human resources. Health ministers reviewed the drills in their respective states.
According to Union health ministry data updated on Tuesday, India recorded a single-day rise of 157 new Covid-19 cases. Four travellers from Myanmar tested positive for Covid at the Delhi airport.
The Centre had sent a 76-point checklist to all hospitals and health centres regarding availability of beds, ventilators, oxygen, medicines etc, which was filled by the health centres on Tuesday as well as doctors, nurses, paramedics, AYUSH doctors and other frontline workers, including ASHA and Anganwadi workers.
The filled checklists were handed over to the district surveillance officers, who have to upload it on the Centre’s Covid portal. Superintendent of Gandhi Hospital Dr Raja Rao said the hospital had more than adequately met the parameters.
"Under the supervision of the Director of Medical Education, we checked if the equipment was functional or not. Gandhi Hospital fully satisfied all the criteria. It has 650 ICU beds and 46 kL of liquid oxygen, which no single hospital in the country has," he said.
Mandaviya said the drill was necessary to know how prepared our hospitals are. "Covid cases are rising all over the world and India might witness a spike in cases too. Hence, it is important that the entire Covid infrastructure, in terms of equipment, processes and human resources are in a state of operational readiness," he stated.
Clinical readiness at hospitals is crucial, Mr Mandaviya said, while noting that both government and private hospitals are undertaking mock drills.
Cautioning against complacency, he urged everyone to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour. He also asked people to refrain from sharing unverified information and ensure high level of preparedness.
Mandaviya had an informal interactive session with the heads of departments and staff of Safdarjung Hospital and Vardhman Mahavir Medical College. The session lasted for about an-hour-and-a-half, during which the Union health minister listened to the suggestions on quality hospital management, clinical practices, infection control measures, sanitation processes and patient-centric high-quality healthcare provision.
In the national capital, the drills took place at various government-run facilities, including the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital. Some private hospitals also reportedly conducted the mock drill on Tuesday.
Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the health portfolio, visited the Delhi government-run LNJP Hospital around noon to assess the drill.
A Delhi health department official said that Covid-19 testing in the city is also likely to be ramped up soon. At present, around 2,500 to 3,000 tests are being conducted daily in the city. Delhi has recorded over 2,007,000 Covid cases and 26,521 deaths since the pandemic started in early 2020. The number of daily cases has remained below 20 and the positivity rate below one per cent since mid-November, according to official data.
Dr B.L. Sherwal, the medical superintendent of Safdarjung Hospital, said, "All symptomatic patients shall be screened, assessed and tested right there in the Covid centre.The report shall be made available within one to two hours, following which the decision on admission or discharge shall be taken. Till that time, the patient can be monitored. All beds have oxygen facilities."
In Uttar Pradesh, deputy chief minister Brajesh Pathak visited a hospital in Lucknow to ascertain its preparedness to deal with any eventuality. Two Covid-19 cases, one each in Unnao and Agra districts, were recoded among persons who had recently returned from abroad.
"A mock drill is being conducted across all Covid hospitals in the state to check their preparedness. I personally checked the Covid management (facilities), oxygen flow and ventilators at Lucknow's Balrampur Hospital. Everything is working fine. A mock drill is being conducted for medical, paramedical and nursing staff on how to function in case of an emergency," Mr Pathak, who is also the state's health minister, said.
At least one senior officer, MLA or minister is present at the drills in hospitals across the state. Covid-19 is there in other countries but there is no scare in Uttar Pradesh at this point, Mr Pathak said.
In Mumbai, medical facilities, including the civic-run Seven Hills Hospital (having 1,700 beds) and Kasturba Hospital (35 beds), government-run Cama Hospital (100 beds), St George Hospital (70 beds), Tata Hospital (16 beds), and Jagjivan Ram Hospital (12 beds) conducted the mock drill.
To diagnose and track Covid-19 cases, the city has a daily testing capacity of 1,35,035 at 34 hospitals and 49 laboratories, according to the release.
In Madhya Pradesh, such drills were conducted in all government medical institutions in the state. State medical education minister Vishvas Sarang said the Covid-19 situation in Madhya Pradesh was under control and not a single positive case was reported from the state in the recent past. "We are ready to deal with any situation. The drill was conducted to check the preparedness of oxygen generation, Intensive Care Unit, Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, oxygen-supported beds, medicines," Mr Sarang said while appealing to all to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour.
Officials in West Bengal said the mock drill was conducted at Kolkata-based hospitals, including MR Bangur Hospital, Infectious Diseases and Beleghata General Hospital, Medical College Hospital Kolkata, RG Kar Medical College and Shambhunath Pandit Hospital, besides Dr BC Roy Post Graduate Institute of Paediatric Sciences. All private hospitals in the city and one hospital each in the districts are also taking part in the drill, the official added.
Karnataka health minister K. Sudhakar said Covid response mock drills were conducted in all districts and talukas across the state. He said the BF.7 variant of Covid-19 is transmissible with low virulence, but emphasised that senior citizens, children and pregnant women must remain cautious.
The total number of COVID cases in the country has now reached 4.46 crore. The death toll from the disease stands at 5,306,969, with one fatality reconciled by Kerala, according to the data update. The daily positivity rate was recorded at 0.32 per cent, while the weekly positivity was pegged at 0.18 per cent, the health ministry said.
It said 49,464 tests for detection of COVID-19 were conducted in the last 24 hours. Active cases now comprise 0.01 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has increased to 98.80 per cent, according to the ministry.
In another development, Bharat Biotech’s intranasal vaccine "iNNOVACC", is now available on the CoWIN portal. It is priced at Rs 800 (excluding GST) for private markets and Rs 325 (excluding GST) for government supplies. It will be rolled out in the fourth week of January.