Centre issues guidelines to contain spread of COVID-19 in rural areas

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan along with Member (Health), NITI Aayog Dr VK Paul chaired a high-level video conference meeting yesterday with all the States and Union Territories. The focus of the meet was on COVID-19 Containment and Management in Peri-urban, Rural and Tribal areas along with the Effective Clinical Management of COVID, including the black Mucor-mycosis fungi which is being recorded in growing number of states. The meeting assumes importance in the context of the rural hinterland of the country recording a very high number of cases with increasing fatality and positivity rate, combined with low reported levels of testing.

Both urged states to ensure community-based and primary health centre services to manage the situation and stressed on sensitisation of ground workers particularly medical officers and block level nodal officers on containment, surveillance and use of Rapid Antigen Test RAT for screening, use of RT-PCR and tele-consultation.
The state health secretaries were asked to hold daily regular review meetings starting today with medical officers and block levels nodal officers to ensure that the SOPs and the advisories percolate to the grassroots level.

States were urged to organise a series of meetings or interactions for sensitization of the ASHAs, ANMs, Panchayati Raj Institutions along with the Community Health Officers. States were advised to train them to identify the early signs of SARI/ILI and COVID symptoms. States were also advised to use the services of village-level health and sanitation committee and gram sabha as first responders.

Mechanism for surveillance, screening, isolation and referral of cases from such areas, monitoring of home isolation cases and providing them with information pamphlets, ramping up of facilities in all the three subsequent levels of COVID-19 Healthcare, COVID Care Centres, Dedicated COVID Health Centres and Dedicated COVID Hospitals was discussed at length.

The states were exhorted to share their best practices and leverage their existing capacity in tele-consultation. The need to ensure continuity of non-COVID essential healthcare delivery systems, communications and behavioural change, and renewed parallel focus on mental health support were also highlighted.

Secretary urged the states to break the myth that CoWIN platform is biased to those abled by technology and requested them to make good use of facilitated cohort registration.

DG ICMR Dr. Balram Bhargava, Director, AIIMS Dr Randeep Guleria, MD of NHM Vandana Gurnani,  Director of NCDC Dr Sujeet K. Singh,  were present along with Principal Secretary (Health), Mission Director (NHM), and State Surveillance Officer of the states.


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