COVID: Centre Expresses Concern Over High Positivity Rate In 3 Odisha Dists, Moots Measures

New Delhi: The Centre has expressed concern over high positivity rate of COVID-19 in 3 districts of Odisha and suggested measures to prevent further spread of the pandemic.

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In a letter to Odisha chief secretary SC Mahapatra, Union Health secretary Rajesh Bhusan has said though the trajectory of daily new cases Of COVID-19 has fallen down substantially in the country, there is a need for continued monitoring of weekly case positivity, as well as cases trajectory in each district to identify any early warning signals of spread of infection.

It is a matter of concern that presently 3 districts of Odisha are reporting weekly positivity of more than 10% (June 28 to July 4). Though the state’s positivity is constantly decreasing and has reported positivity of 5.36% for the week ending 4th July; Nuapada district has shown significant increase in positivity over the last week

The Union Health secretary highlighted the following critical areas of concern:

Cases:
Although the cases have shown continuous decline since past 4 weeks, the state
has 5 districts (Balasore, Cuttack, Jagatsinghapur, Kendrapada and Khurda) that
have shown an increase in the week ending July 4 when compared with previous week.

Deaths:
The State has a low CFR of less than 0.46%. However, continuous monitoring of daily
new deaths needs to be done .There has been increase in the of deaths reported by the state over the past 2 weeks. Khurda district has reported 58 deaths over the last week, highest in the state. Total deaths reported by the state for the same is 309.

Testing & Positivity:
The district of Nuapada reported the weekly positivity at 11% for the week ending on
June 27 while it reported 27% positivity for the week ending July 4. Balasore, Dhenkanal and Nuapada reported weekly positivity of more than 10% for the week ending July 4.

The above-mentioned points are a cause for concern and in order to not let the situation slip out of control, I would urge to focus on the following points and take necessary action at the earliest:

Strict containment measures: It is imperative to note that containment is the most crucial strategy of flatting the current curve. It is critical to plan effective containment measures and implement them stringently to strengthen all the efforts made for prompt contact tracing of the positive cases and immediate quarantine of all suspected and confirmed cases as per MoHFW guidelines.

Ramp up testing: Several districts are reporting high positivity rate which reflects the level of widespread infection. A microanalysis needs to be done of the areas showing high positivity during the past weeks. Accordingly, all such areas should be targeted for increasing the testing. While maintaining high proportion of RT-PCR tests, the state should aim at maintaining positivity rate below 5% in each district duly focusing on increasing the number of tests so as to aid early identification.

Healthcare Infrastructure planning: To ensure preparedness, the state must maintain
continuous vigil regarding bed occupancy (oxygen supported and ICIJ beds) and if the occupancy is more than 40% for any bed category, the state should plan for augmentation of healthcare infrastructure in those districts. Trained human resources, infrastructure, logistics and procurement should be planned considering the geographical spread of the pandemic. The state should also work towards ensuring timely disclosure of all infrastructure availability details on public portals or in media so as to avoid misinformation.

Effective clinical management: With a rise in fatalities, clinical management protocol may be followed effectively and promptly. It is important to monitor all cases under home isolation and put processes in place to ensure smooth hospitalization of patients, in case the same is required. All facilities also should be monitored with respect to the overall fatality, including deaths being reported within 24, 48 and 72 hours of hospitalization to identify any weak spots and undertake required corrective action.

Ramping up vaccination: Vaccination must be used as an aid to the infection containment strategy. Ramping up vaccination sites, improving the efficiency and utilisation of vaccination deploying strategic vaccination centers near the containment zones, and ensuring speedier vaccination of all citizens aged 18+ should be undertaken on a priority basis.

COVID Appropriate Behavior: Levying effective fines on violation of social distancing or mask usage in public as well as stringent enforcement is critical to control the spread of infection in the community.

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