COVID-19 : Be ready to mitigate future surges: Union Home Secy to UTs

Srinagar: Union Home Secretary, Ajay Bhalla, while chairing a high-level meeting to review the public health response to COVID-19 urged all Union Territories to vigorously follow the strategy of testing, tracking, and treating COVID cases in their jurisdictions, besides, focusing on speedy vaccination of the eligible population towards successful containment of the COVID pandemic.

Chief Secretary, Jammu & Kashmir Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta along with Additional Chief Secretary, Health & Medical Education Department, besides Chief Secretaries/Administrators of other Union Territories including Andaman & Nicobar, Chandigarh, Dadar & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, Delhi, Ladakh, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry participated in the meeting.

While reviewing the COVID situation in the Union Territories, the Home Secretary said that the UTs have witnessed a constant decline in cases over the past few weeks. “The new cases reported and COVID fatalities have come down to 4,244 and 54, respectively over the last two weeks”, he added.

The Home Secretary asked the UT Administrations to remain in a state of readiness to mitigate future surges, besides undertaking  a combined strategy of test-track-treat COVID cases, micro containment of emerging hot spots, speedy vaccination, enforcement of COVID appropriate behaviour, and ramping up of COVID dedicated medical facilities for successful containment of the disease.

It was informed that Jammu and Kashmir is conducting 1.62 lakh tests per week with 0.2% positivity rate. The UT registered 999 cases and 9 COVID-related deaths in the last week.

The Union Home Secretary advised Jammu and Kashmir to focus on administration of vaccination to eligible population in a decentralized manner through dedicated day-specific and vaccination centre-specific targeted drives. While ensuring second dose of vaccines to eligible population in time, he stressed on speedy administering of first doses to the unvaccinated population.

So far, Jammu and Kashmir has vaccinated approximately 50 lakh people constituting 40% of its eligible population with the first dose. The vaccinated population also includes 100% vaccination in above 45 years age category and 31% vaccination in 18- 45 age category.

Giving a brief of the measures being taken in J&K to contain the spread of COVID, the Chief Secretary, J&K informed that the Government has been vigorously enforcing COVID Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) and conducting high numbers of tests and vaccinations for early detection and containment of COVID virus.

The Chief Secretary also requested the Central Government to provide 60 lakh additional doses of vaccination so as to enable the UT to universally vaccinate its eligible population at the earliest.

Later, the Chief Secretary directed the Health & Medical Education Department to focus on contact tracing of COVID patients and ensure quarantine of suspected cases to prevent spread of infection among the general population. The Department was asked to ensure strict enforcement of CAB and imposition of graded-penalty on habitual defaulters.

Further, the Department was directed to undertake machinery and equipment audit and ensure their functionality along with sufficient availability of technical manpower, besides, organizing district-level mock drills for establishment of micro containment zones and enforcement SOPs thereof.

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