India conducts nationwide COVID-19 drill
As new COVID-19 cases are increasing continuously (over 6,000 daily cases), Indian hospitals have received instructions from the central government in regard to pandemic preparedness. A nationwide mock drill has been launched to assess the readiness of public and private hospitals at the beginning of the 5th wave.
In India, the overall active COVID-19 cases currently stand at 32,814 with the daily rate at 3.39%. Several territories have been informed that the World Health Organization is closely monitoring a variant of interest (VOI), XBB.1.5, along with six other variants (BQ.1, BA.2.75, CH.1.1, XBB, XBF, and XBB.1.16).1
Despite Omicron and its sub-lineages remaining the dominant variants, most variants have low transmissibility, disease severity, or immune escape. However, the prevalence of XBB.1.16 increased from 21.6% in February to 35.8% in March.
Although, there is currently no evidence of an increase in hospitalization or mortality, a 2-day nationwide pandemic preparedness drill in hospitals has been launched. The drill is aimed to cover critical features of the previous COVID-19 shortcomings and errors such as PPEs, hospital beds, oxygen and overall stock preparedness.
On macro-level, the nationwide drill provides a comprehensive evaluation of hospital preparedness, which is crucial to ensure timely and effective healthcare services delivery for patients. Healthcare facilities have been advised to work in tandem with district administrations in order health officials could review their preparedness.
The drill highlights the continued importance and need of identifying emergency hotspots by closely monitoring the trends of influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) cases.2
As most Indian territories have witnessed a rise in new corona cases, several states (e.g. Haryana and Puducherry) have reintroduced mask mandates in public places, including schools. In Kerala state, masks are again mandatory for pregnant women, the elderly, and those with serious diseases.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh state has issued a ‘high-priority’ directive, instructing officials to ensure the screening of international passengers at all airports. Other states such as Delhi, Maharashtra, and Himachal Pradesh have also urged citizens to adhere to COVID appropriate behavior.3
This comes at a time when some states have seen a decline in COVID-19 testing, and the current testing levels are insufficient compared to WHO standards.
Photo: woman wearing face mask (Pexels: EVG Kowalievska, 02.03.2020).