Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan

Centre highlights need for stringent measures to control Covid-19 spread at Kumbh

ANI | Updated: Mar 21, 2021 14:33 IST

New Delhi [India], March 21 (ANI): Amid rising coronavirus cases in the country, a high-level central team has highlighted the need for stringent measures to control the spread of Covid-19 during Kumbh Mela.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan in a letter to Chief Secretary Uttarakhand on Sunday advised the state to increase the number of Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RTPCR) tests as per the ICMR guidelines, to follow the standard operating procedures issued by the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW )and to display signages to disseminate the main points of the SOPs.
"The State has been informed that the daily testing numbers reported in Haridwar (i.e.50,000 Rapid Antigen Tests and 5,000 RTPCR tests) are not enough to effectively offset the huge number of expected pilgrim footfall. It has been advised that the share of RTPCR tests being conducted at present needs to be significantly increased as per the ICMR guidelines to ensure that the pilgrims and local population are appropriately tested," the letter read.
"The State Government is also advised to undertake the following measures:- Follow scrupulously the SOPs issued by MoHFW. Display signages to disseminate the main points of these SoPs; Increase awareness of self-reporting, especially among local population, in case of symptoms suggestive of COVID-19," the letter further read.
According to the letter the state of Uttarakhand should, "set up a system for generating early warning signals in areas with the susceptible population by monitoring trend of ARI or ILI cases through Emergency Operational Centre; Target significantly enhanced testing in potential high transmission areas; Continue periodic testing of frontline workers before and after auspicious snan days of the Kumbh."

"Ensure operationalization of adequate critical care treatment facilities; Effective risk communication, by using all forms of media platforms, for strict adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour; In case of surge in cases/super spreader events, promptly send samples for genome sequencing in consultation with NCDC," it said
A high-level Central Team led by Director National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had visited Uttarakhand on March 16 - March 17 to review the medical and public health preparedness measures undertaken by the state for the ongoing Kumbh Mela in Haridwar.
The Secretary also noted in his letter that as per the report of the Central Team, that 10 to 20 pilgrims and 10 to 20 locals are being reported positive every day. "This positivity rate has the potential to rapidly turning to an upsurge in cases, given the expected large footfall during Kumbh," the letter warned.
The Union Health Secretary urged the Uttarakhand government to take stock of the public health measures being undertaken by the State in consonance with the aforesaid recommendations of the Health Ministry.
A total of 43,846 new coronavirus cases and 22,956 recoveries were reported in the country in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry informed on Sunday. (ANI)