Centre Plans Two-Day Nationwide Mock Drill From April 10 As Covid Cases Rise


New Delhi: With Covid-19 and seasonal influenza cases on the rise, the government is planning a nationwide mock drill on April 10 and 11 to assess hospital preparedness.

According to a joint advisory issued on Saturday by the Union Health Ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), all districts are expected to participate in the exercise to assess the availability of medicines, hospital beds, medical equipment, and medical oxygen.

Dr Rajiv Bahl, Department of Health Research and Director General of the IMCR, and Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), wrote to all States and Union Territories on Saturday to ensure optimal Covid-19 testing.

The letter was issued in response to the Ministry of Health’s communications on March 10 and March 16 regarding the seasonal circulation of pan-respiratory pathogens in the country, as well as the public health response to Covid-19 in the states/UTs.

“Since mid-February 2023, the country has seen a steady but gradual increase in the number of Covid-19 cases. As of today, the majority of active Covid-19 cases in the country have been reported primarily by a few states. Kerala (26.4%) and Maharashtra (21.7%) are examples. Gujarat (13.9%), Karnataka (8.6%), and Tamil Nadu (6.3%) are the top three states. While hospitalisation and death rates from the disease remain low, owing largely to the significant coverage achieved in terms of Covid-19 vaccination rates by all States/UTs, the gradual increase in cases necessitates re-energised public health actions to contain the surge,” the letter said.

“States! UTs must keep a close eye on the changing aetiologies (disease causes) of Influenza Like Illness (ILI) and Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) cases. In India, influenza cases typically peak from January to March and again from August to October. Currently, the most common influenza subtypes in circulation in the country appear to be Influenza A (HINT) and Influenza A (H3N2),”  it added.

The Union Ministry of Health has already issued detailed ‘Guidelines for the management of Covid-19 co-infection with other seasonal epidemic-prone diseases,’ which includes diagnostic modalities to be used as well as a case management approach.

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