HM: Increase testing and reduce mortality by early hospitalisation

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday stressed the importance of increased testing in all of the National Capital Region while chairing a high-level review meeting with the chief ministers of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for devising a common COVID-19 strategy in the NCR area. The Home Minister added that both Haryana and Uttar Pradesh should follow in Delhi's footsteps and focus on reducing mortality rates by ensuring early hospitalisation of patients.

The meeting was also attended by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and other senior bureaucrats from the states and central governments and also saw a presentation by NITI Aayog Member Dr VK Paul, who is heading a special committee to come up with a common plan for all of NCR and had recently spear-headed COVID-19 price capping in the Capital. Dr Paul had presented new ways to strategise planning and the way ahead for NCR administrations.

The Home Minister added that 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 and that nearly 90 per cent screening is achievable through these test kits. Shah also stressed on extensive use of Aarogya Setu and Itihas Apps to help COVID-19 mapping in the region.

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 and suggested that both states join the AIIMS-Telemedicine COVID consultation so that patients can get advice from national experts. The home minister also suggested that AIIMS can provide training to healthcare workers in small hospitals of UP and Haryana.

In fact, while Shah has constantly stressed on the need for NCR administrations to work together, districts such as Noida and Ghaziabad have so far failed to integrate themselves into the common strategy. When the MHA had said inter-state travel should be allowed, the UP government had said in court that they cannot allow this as cases "were coming from Delhi". Moreover, the court also found out that Noida's institutional quarantine rules were contradicting national guidelines.

Even after Unlock 2.0, the UP government has given both Noida and Ghaziabad a free reign over deciding on the border restrictions, which are to continue until further orders.

Meanwhile, the Gautam Buddh Nagar administration on Thursday launched a 10-day surveillance campaign to strengthen Coronavirus screening across Noida and Greater Noida with 1,500 health teams involved in it, officials said. Gautam Buddh Nagar's nodal officer for COVID-19 response Narendra Bhushan, Police Commissioner Alok Singh and District Magistrate Suhas L Y launched the campaign. The campaign will run from July 2 to 12 while 1,500 teams will conduct door-to-door screening of people and suggest tests for people with symptoms. To test 4,000 coronavirus samples every day, the administration has formed 40 teams comprising physicians, nurses and lab technicians, according to an official statement.

While the pandemic has somewhat been brought under control in the second half of June, the Home Minister had said in an interview that he felt the need to step in after Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia's announced an early estimation of Delhi reaching 5.5 lakh cases by July-end. While he did not go into the source of the numbers, Shah said this had spread panic and so he had intervened to help with "coordinating efforts".

However, Sisodia had later said that it was good that the estimation was being proved wrong but that the numbers were an early projection that had come from national experts working with the Centre.

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