New Delhi, Jan 2:  Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Sunday urged states/UTs to better utilise the approved funds under Emergency Covid Response Package (ECRP-II) and directed them to expedite the progress in terms of ICU beds, oxygen beds, Paediatric ICU/HDU beds, among others.

He also brought attention of the states and UTs to the fact that collectively, they have only used just over 17 per cent of the available approved funds under Emergency Covid Response Package (ECRP-II).

The states were urged to effectively use IT tools for tele-medicine and tele-consultation, including training and capacity building of human resources, timely availability of ambulances, readiness to operationalise Covid facilities for institutional quarantine, and effective and supervised monitoring of those in home isolation.

In a virtual interaction with State Health Ministers and Principal Secretaries to review the Public Health Preparedness to Covid-19 and progress of National vaccination campaign, Mandaviya urged the states to re-invigorate their teams to work at the ground level and strengthen monitoring and containment mechanisms.

The meeting was held in view of rising cases of the Omicron variant and the recent decisions to roll out vaccination for the age group of 15-18 years and precautionary dose for identified vulnerable categories. The meeting also discussed the critical bottlenecks in medical infrastructure.

The Union Health Minister noted that globally, countries are experiencing 3-4 times the surge in Covid-19 cases in comparison to their earlier peaks. The Omicron variant being highly transmissible, a high surge in case can overwhelm the medical system. He therefore advised the states to leave no stone unturned in ramping up infrastructure to manage a high surge so that India escapes unscathed from this episode of Covid-19.

“We have put up a strong fight against Covid earlier and this learning must be used to re-focus on efforts against the Omicron variant”, said Mandaviya in the meeting.

He stressed on the continued need to follow Covid appropriate behaviour along with renewed and stringent focus on containment measures for addressing the present surge.

“We must focus on planning with regard to the 15-18 age group vaccination and precautionary doses for eligible beneficiaries”, said Mandaviya while underscoring the critical importance of vaccination drive.

He also urged states to ensure that the healthcare workers and frontline workers are fully vaccinated, as they form the vulnerable categories.

Stressing the need to ensure smooth implementation of new vaccination guidelines, the minister asked states to ensure the orientation of team members for vaccination of 15-18 years age-group.

To avoid mixing-up of vaccines during administration, separate CVCs, separate session sites, separate queue (if at same session where adult vaccination is ongoing) and separate vaccination team (if at same session site) are to be strived for. States/UTs were also advised to share their requirement of vaccine doses through district wise estimation of beneficiaries using CoWIN. They were urged to plan for distribution of Covaxin to identified session sites well in advance and publish sessions for at least 15 days to provide sufficient visibility.

State Health Ministers who joined the meet included S. Pangnyu Phom from Nagaland, N.K. Das from Odisha, Dr Prabhuram Choudhary from MP, Ma Subramanian from Tamil Nadu, Keshab Mahanta from Assam, Anil Vij from Haryana, Satyendar Jain from Delhi, Alo Libang from Arunachal Pradesh, Banna Gupta from Jharkhand, Mangal Pandey from Bihar, T.S. Singhdeo from Chhattisgarh and Chandrima Bhattacharjee, MoS Health from West Bengal.

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