With the alarm raised by a Covid surge in China, the center has asked states to hold mock drills at health facilities to ensure a swift response should the country experience another surge in Covid cases.
The simulation exercise, to be held on Tuesday, will focus on the availability of beds, human resources, logistics and the medical oxygen supply chain.
The early surge in Covid cases, especially the second wave, has crippled health infrastructure, with heartbreaking scenes of patients struggling to breathe from a lack of medical oxygen and relatives scrambling to find beds for their loved ones.
In a letter to all states and union territories yesterday, Health Minister Rajesh Bhushan said that all states and union territories must take necessary health measures to deal with any emergency.
“Therefore, it has been decided to conduct a mock exercise at all health facilities across the country, including identified COVID-only health facilities, on Tuesday, December 27, 2022,” the Ministry of Health said.
The health minister outlined areas of focus for the simulation exercise.
The availability of beds for isolation and life support is high on the list.
“Geographically representative medical facility availability – covering all regions. Bed capacity – isolation beds, oxygen support isolation beds, ICU beds, and ventilator support beds,” the letter said.
The simulation exercise will also focus on the human resources needed to deal with a surge in Covid cases, including doctors, nurses and paramedics. A sufficient number of frontline workers such as AYUSH practitioners and Anganwadi workers will also be assessed during the exercise. The exercise will also check that these health workers are properly trained to handle Covid patients and medical oxygen supplies.
The mock exercise will also aim to increase Covid testing capacity by ensuring the easy availability of RT-PCR and rapid antigen kits.
Medical oxygen, which suffocated hundreds of thousands of people during the early Covid wave, was a key area of focus for the simulation exercise.
“Medical Oxygen: Oxygen Concentrators, Oxygen Cylinders, PSA Units. Liquid Medical Oxygen Storage Tanks, Medical Gas Piping Systems, etc.,” the letter lays out the priorities.
The center has announced that RT-PCR testing is now mandatory for passengers flying in from five countries, including China.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the center and states needed to work in “synergy” and in a “spirit of collaboration” as they did during previous peaks.
The country recorded 200 new Covid cases yesterday.