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COVID-19 vigil: Mock drills held in hospitals across country to check readiness

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Many hospitals across the country held mock drills on Tuesday to check the preparedness of health facilities to deal with any spurt in COVID-19 cases, with Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya saying it was important to gauge the operational readiness of equipment and human resources.

Mandaviya oversaw the drill at the Centre-run Safdarjung Hospital here, while health ministers reviewed the drill in their respective states.

The Centre has asked states and union territories to conduct the drill as part of precautionary measures following an increase in infection in China and other countries.

Officials said the mock drill focused on parameters such as the availability of health facilities in all districts, the capacity of isolation beds, oxygen-supported beds, ICU beds and ventilator-supported beds, and optimal availability of doctors, nurses, paramedics, AYUSH doctors, and other frontline workers, including ASHA and Anganwadi workers.

Mandaviya said the drill was necessary to know how prepared our hospitals are.

“Covid cases are rising all over the world and India might witness a spike in cases too. Hence it is important that the entire Covid infrastructure in terms of equipment, processes and human resources are in a state of operational readiness,” he stated.

Clinical readiness at hospitals is crucial, Mandaviya said while noting that government, as well as private hospitals, are undertaking mock drills. Cautioning against complacency, he urged everyone to follow Covid Appropriate Behaviour.

He also asked people to refrain from sharing unverified information and ensure a high level of preparedness.

India recorded a single-day rise of 157 new COVID-19 cases, while the count of active cases of the disease has marginally decreased to 3,421, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday.

In the national capital, the drill took place at the LNJP Hospital and other government-run facilities. Some of the private hospitals are expected to take up the exercise later in the day.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the health portfolio, visited the Delhi government-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital around noon to assess the drill.

“The Delhi government is prepared for any kind of emergency. At LNJP, there are 2,000 beds and 450 of them are marked for COVID-19. If a need arises, we can dedicate all 2,000 beds for COVID-19… we can also increase this number by using nearby banquet halls and add an additional 500 beds for COVID-19, so there would be no shortage,” Sisodia told reporters at the hospital.

The deputy chief minister asked people not to panic, saying primary data suggests that the new BF.7 sub-strain of the coronavirus, which is causing a surge in infections in other countries, is similar to previous variants.

“Compared to previous times, oxygen availability has increased 10 times, five PSA plants have been set up here. And ventilators are also present. Today, a mock drill was conducted, how patients can be attended to and shifted to desired location within five minutes was observed,” he added An official said COVID-19 testing in the city is also likely to be ramped up soon.

At present, around 2,500 to 3,000 tests are being conducted daily in the city. Delhi has recorded over 2,007,000 Covid cases and 26,521 deaths since the pandemic started in early 2020.

The number of daily cases has remained below 20 and the positivity rate below one per cent since mid-November, according to official data.

Dr B L Sherwal, the Medical Superintendent of the Safdarjung Hospital, said, “All symptomatic patients shall be screened, assessed and tested right there in the Covid centre.The report shall be made available within one to two hours following which the decision on admission or discharge shall be taken.Till that time the patient can be monitored. All beds have oxygen facilities.”

Four international travellers from Myanmar, who tested positive for Covid at the Delhi airport, are admitted to the Safdarjung Hospital and their samples have been sent for genome sequencing “They were asymptomatic. They will be discharged once they test negative,” Dr Sherwal informed.

In Uttar Pradesh, Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak visited a hospital in Lucknow to ascertain its preparedness to deal with any eventuality.

Uttar Pradesh recorded two COVID-19 cases in Unnao and Agra districts among persons who had recently returned from abroad.

“A mock drill is being conducted across all Covid hospitals in the state to check their preparedness. I personally checked the Covid management (facilities), oxygen flow and ventilators at Lucknow’s Balrampur Hospital. Everything is working fine. A mock drill is being conducted for medical, paramedical and nursing staff on how to function in case of an emergency,” Pathak, who is also the state’s health minister, told reporters.

A COVID-19 swab sample test being conducted as part of a mock drill held at the Coimbatore Medical College and Hospital on Tuesday. (Photo | S Senbagapandiyan, EPS)
At least one senior officer, MLA or minister is present at the drills in hospitals across the state.

COVID-19 is there in other countries but there is no scare in Uttar Pradesh at this point, Pathak said.

In Mumbai, medical facilities including the civic-run Seven Hills Hospital (having 1,700 beds) and Kasturba Hospital (35 beds), government-run Cama Hospital (100 beds), St George Hospital (70 beds), Tata Hospital (16 beds), and Jagjivan Ram Hospital (12 beds) conducted the mock drill.

The state-run J J Hospital said it will be conducting the mock drill.

To diagnose and track COVID-19 cases, the city has a daily testing capacity of 1,35,035 at 34 hospitals and 49 laboratories, according to the release.

Madhya Pradesh saw such drills being conducted in all government medical institutions in the state.

State Medical Education Minister Vishvas Sarang said the COVID-19 situation in Madhya Pradesh was under control and not a single positive case was reported from the state in the recent past.

“We are ready to deal with any situation. The drill was conducted to check the preparedness of oxygen generation, Intensive Care Unit, Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, oxygen supported beds, medicines,” Sarang said while appealing to all to follow COVID-19-appropriate behaviour.

As of Monday evening, active COVID-19 cases in Madhya Pradesh stood at four and there was no report of any new positive case from the state, officials said.

Beds and necessary medical equipment were kept ready for patients as part of the mock drill at the Rajiv Gandhi government general hospital, in Chennai on Tuesday, Dec 27, 2022. (Photo | R.Satish babu, EPS) Officials in West Bengal said the mock drill was conducted at Kolkata-based hospitals including MR Bangur Hospital, Infectious Diseases and Beleghata General Hospital, Medical College Hospital Kolkata, RG Kar Medical College and Shambhunath Pandit Hospital besides Dr BC Roy Post Graduate Institute of Paediatric Sciences.

All private hospitals in the city and one hospital each in the districts are also taking part in the drill, the official added.

“We are ready to face any situation in case there is any surge in COVID-19 cases. It’s an exercise to keep a check on our preparedness. At the moment, the COVID-19 contagion is totally under control and there is no reason to panic.The state has enough testing facilities and we are ready to face any situation,” Director of Health Services (DHS) Siddhartha Niyogi told PTI.

Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar said Covid response mock drills are in place in all districts and talukas across the state He said the BF.7 variant of COVID-19 is transmissible with low virulence, but emphasised that senior citizens, children and pregnant women must remain cautious.

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