COVID-19 CASES have been rapidly multiplying in Haryana over the last few days, even in districts that had started reporting zero new infections. To combat the surge, Haryana’s Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Rajeev Arora, speaking to VARINDER BHATIA, says that while they have “the weapon of vaccination”, the state is “simultaneously relying upon its 3-T strategy – test, track and treat protocol – ensuring strict compliance of Covid-appropriate behaviour, creating awareness and increasing contact tracing”.
Cases have once again started to increase. What are the factors responsible for this fresh surge?
There are multiple reasons. The primary reason, of course, is laxity observed in Covid-appropriate behaviour (social distancing, wearing of face masks, respiratory etiquette) in public places having large gatherings. This has majorly contributed to the surge. Another major factor is the increased mobility of the population to earn their livelihood, and again not duly taking precautionary measures.
Also, it would be premature to say, but there is a possibility that mutated variants of the virus might also be a cause of fresh transmission of infection in Haryana.
What steps are being taken to control the latest wave?
Several steps are being taken to curtail the latest wave. The state has already enforced strict norms of Covid appropriate behaviour.
Fines and penalties are being imposed on defaulters for not wearing masks/face covers, or for not following physical distancing norms by the enforcement agencies. IEC (poster/standees/ AV media) on preventive measures for Covid-19 and Covid-19 vaccination are being displayed at prominent locations in all districts.
Test, track and treat protocol is being followed in the state, which includes increased aggressive testing above 95 per cent using RT-PCR to detect early Covid-19 positive cases, timely isolation of positive cases by providing them clinical intervention. Consisting contact tracing of at least 30 contacts of infected individuals and prompt, effective quarantine measure for those tested positive is being strictly followed.
Identification of clusters of cases is being done alongwith imposing strict containment measures. State is keeping strict watch on all super spreader events and places and timely action is being initiated to curb/regulate the same. Sample of international travelers tested positive are being sent for Whole Genomic Sequencing (WGS) promptly.
Is Haryana exploring options of imposing lockdown/night curfews if the situation continues like this or deteriorates further?
As of now Haryana government has no plans of imposing night curfew. However, based on daily new cases of Covid-19, we shall consider all the options accordingly at an appropriate time.
What steps are you taking to ensure the public follows Covid precautions and all SOPs?
All district police chiefs have been directed to strictly enforce wearing of face masks and social distancing norms. Regular monitoring is being done by senior officers to analyse and review the situation at ground level, to check the implementation of Covid appropriate behaviour.
Simultaneously, awareness drives are being held to educate people about the precautions. Wide publicity of practicing Covid appropriate behaviour via radio, television broadcast is being done apart from display of IEC (poster/standees/AV media) in prominent places in all districts. Fines are being imposed on defaulters for following SOPs (not wearing masks/face covers, or for not following physical distancing norms) by the enforcement agencies.
How is Haryana placed, in terms of the recent surge, and in terms of vaccination pace as compared to other states?
As of April 1, the cumulative number of Covid-19 cases in Haryana was 2,92,409. A total of 3,164 deaths have occurred in Haryana and the mortality rate of the state is 1.1 per cent which is much lesser as compared to other neighboring states like 1.7 per cent in Delhi, 3.2 per cent in Punjab, 1.4 per cent in Uttar Pradesh and 1.7 per cent in Himachal Pradesh. Haryana, with a 95.4 per cent recovery rate, is amongst the highest recovery rate states in India.
As per MoHFW, Haryana stands 15th in India on the basis of overall case load of Covid-19 and 13th in Covid-19 related mortality (dated 28.03.2021). In terms of Covid-19 vaccination coverage, Haryana stands at 15th in the country with 17.02 lakh vaccinations done. In comparison, Delhi has done 13.37 lakh, Punjab 9.21 lakh and Union Territory of Chandigarh 81,000 till April 2 (12.30 pm), according to Government of India’s statistics.
What is the scale of the vaccination programme in Haryana. How many people vaccinated so far?
We are making strenuous efforts for vaccination by doing strategic planning, mobilisation of government and private health facilities and involving NGOs, panchayati raj institutions and other stakeholders. Till April 1, we have vaccinated over 17 lakh people in Haryana.
These include 7 lakh people who were vaccinated in the last 10 days. Vaccinations will continue to increase in the coming days. The maximum number of people vaccinated are in Gurgaon (2,20,499), Faridabad (1,79,070), Ambala (1,50,931), Sonipat (1,13,691), Karnal (94,681) and Sirsa (92,849).
What is the current logistics situation in Haryana?
As far as the Covid-dedicated facilities are concerned, we have three categories. Under Category 1 (dedicated Covid hospitals), we have 52 facilities covering 19 districts. Under this, we have 5,326 isolation beds, 2,988 beds supported with oxygen supply facilities, and 727 ICU beds, while there are 394 ventilators available.
Similarly, in Category-II (dedicated Covid health centre), we have 231 facilities covering 22 districts. Under this category, we have 6,223 isolation beds and 3,949 beds with oxygen supply facilities and 1,404 ICU beds, while there are 685 ventilators available. Under Category-III (dedicated Covid centres), we have 524 facilities covering 22 districts under which we have 45,063 isolation beds.
In total, we have 807 Covid-dedicated facilities under which we have 56,612 isolation beds, 6,937 beds with oxygen supply, 2,131 ICU beds and 1,079 ventilators.
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