Centre’s Covid Checklist For States As China Surge Sets Off Alarm

The availability of beds, both for isolation and for life support, is high on the priority list.

New Delhi:

With the Covid spike in China setting off an alarm, the centre has asked states to hold mock drills at health facilities to ensure swift response if Covid cases in the country surge again.

The mock drill, which would be held on Tuesday, will focus on availability of beds, human resources, logistics and the supply chain of medical oxygen.

The earlier spikes in Covid cases, particularly the second wave, had brought the health infrastructure to its knees, throwing up heart-rending scenes of patients struggling to breathe due to lack of medical oxygen and relatives running from pillar to post to find a hospital bed for their loved ones.

In a letter to all states and Union Territories yesterday, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said it is necessary that necessary health measures are in place in all states and Union Territories to tackle any emergency.

“It has therefore been decided to hold mock drill at all health facilities (including identified COVID-dedicated health facilities) across the country on Tuesday, 27th December 2022,” the Ministry said.

The Health Secretary listed the key focus areas for the mock drills.

The availability of beds, both for isolation and for life support, is high on the list.

“Geographically representative availability of health facilities — covering all districts. Bed capacities — Isolation beds, oxygen-supported isolation beds, ICU beds and ventilator-supported beds,” the letter said.

The mock drill would also focus on the human resources required to tackle any spike in Covid cases, including doctors, nurses, and paramedics. Sufficient number of AYUSH practitioners and frontline workers such as Anganwadi workers would also be assessed during the drill. The exercise would also check if these health workers are properly trained to handle Covid patients and medical oxygen supply.

The mock drill will also aim to boost Covid testing capacities by ensuring easy availability of RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Kits.

Medical oxygen, a crisis of which had left lakhs gasping during the earlier waves of Covid, is a key focus area of this mock drill.

“Medical oxygen: Oxygen Concentrators, Oxygen Cylinders, PSA Plants. Liquid Medical Oxygen Storage Tanks, Medical Gas Pipeline System etc,” the letter said, listing the priority issues.

The centre has already announced that RT-PCR test is now mandatory for passengers flying in from five countries, including China.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has said the centre and states need to work in “tandem” and in a “collaborative spirit” like they did during the previous spikes.

The country recorded 200 fresh Covid cases yesterday.

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