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COVID-19: Shah suggests UP, Hry to use rapid kits to bolster testing in NCR; early hospitalisation

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday emphasised on carrying out more COVID-19 tests in the NCR cities of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana using Rapid Antigen kits, and suggested that focus should be on reducing mortality rate by ensuring early hospitalisation of patients.

The suggestions were made at a high-level meeting chaired by Shah, and attended by the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi -- Yogi Adityanath, Manohar Lal Khattar and Arvind Kejriwal, respectively -- and Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, besides others.

The Home Ministry said in a statement that Shah held the meeting with the three chief ministers for formulating a unified strategy for fighting COVID-19 in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The home minister emphasised on the need to focus on more testing of those suspected of COVID-19 so that the infection rate in the NCR region can be reduced, according to the statement.

He said the adoption of more testing via Rapid Antigen Test Kits will help reduce infection transmission rate below 10 per cent as suggested by the World Health Organization.

Shah said nearly 90 per cent of screening is possible through these kits.

These kits can be provided by the Centre to Uttar Pradesh and Haryana governments in numbers desired by them, the statement said.

Emphasising on the importance of the humanitarian perspective to save lives of the poor and the needy, the home minister said the focus should be on early hospitalisation of patients so that the mortality rate can also be reduced, it said.

He emphasised on extensive use of Aarogya Setu and Itihas Apps to help COVID-19 mapping in the NCR.

Shah said the AIIMS, Delhi, telemedicine consultation model being used in the national capital for COVID-19 patients should be replicated in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

He suggested that UP and Haryana can join AIIMS-Telemedicine COVID consultation through which patients can get advice by expert doctors.

The training for doctors in small hospitals in UP and Haryana can be provided by the AIIMS with the help of tele-videography, the statement said.

Member NITI Ayog, VK Paul, gave a presentation on the strategy of tackling COVID-19 in NCR and provided details of best practices adopted in Delhi-NCR and the way ahead.

Delhi and the NCR have seen a spike in the number of coronavirus cases, leading to the Home Minister stepping in to handle the situation and improve the health infrastructure.

The NCR comprises districts belonging to Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The prominent ones being Gautam Buddha Nagar (Noida) and Ghaziabad (both Uttar Pradesh) and Gurgaon, Faridabad (both in Haryana).

The three chief ministers attended the meeting through video conference.

The novel coronavirus has infected 89,000 people in Delhi and killed 2,803 as on Wednesday. In Uttar Pradesh, the coronavirus tally has reached 24,056 cases and 718 deaths.

In the NCR district of Gautam Buddh Nagar, 2,362 COVID-19 cases have been detected positive and 22 people have lost their lives so far.

In Ghaziabad, so far 851 people have been infected by the coronavirus and 56 have died.

A total of 14,941 COVID-19 cases were detected in Haryana and the virus so far has claimed 240 lives in the state.

Gurgaon and Faridabad have reported 92 and 80 fatalities, respectively. The two districts put together account for over 9,300 infections.

Restrictions imposed earlier on the free movement of people between Delhi and NCR became a major issue during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Uttar Pradesh chief minister on Thursday asked officials to stay alert on the movement of people in NCR districts to check the spread of COVID-19.

"By remaining alert in NCR districts (of UP), the spread of COVID-19 can be checked. There should be alertness on movement in these districts," a statement quoted the CM as telling senior officials during a meeting with them.

On June 18, at a meeting, the home minister had said a common strategy should be framed for Delhi and NCR to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and added that the suburbs like Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad can't be separated from the national capital in this battle.

The home minister swung into action to handle the coronavirus situation in the national capital since early last month after criticism in different quarters of the Delhi government's handling of the COVID-19 situation, with complaints of non-availability of beds in hospitals for patients and difficulty in getting the tests done in laboratories.

The home minister has been leading from the front after taking charge of Delhi's fight against the coronavirus.

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