To tackle a possible surge in COVID-19 cases, the Union government advised all states and Union territories (UTs) to initiate the process of setting up makeshift hospitals and to constitute special teams to monitor patients in home isolation.
In a letter to all chief secretaries, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said it is imperative to re-emphasise the significance of timely and swift upgradation of health infrastructure in all states and UTs.
"This becomes all the more important since with the sudden increase in cases, we may start seeing a stressed health infrastructure," he said.
To address potential surge in cases with a view to ensure preparedness, the Union government has asked states to initiate creation of field or makeshift hospitals to augment availability of health infrastructure.
"This can be done with coordination with DRDO and CSIR as well as the private sector, corporations, NGOs, etc. This will aid the process of rapid creation of field hospitals or temporary hospital set-ups," Bhushan said.
The Union government also said that states may also consider leveraging hotel rooms and other accommodations linked with the COVID-19 dedicated hospitals in government and private sector to cater to patients having mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19, as was also done in some states during the earlier surge in cases.
"A large number of positive cases may be eligible for home isolation. These cases would require effective follow up and a clearly defined mechanism for prompt shifting to a health facility in case of deterioration in their health situation," Bhushan said.
He said it is particularly important that all states should monitor their home isolation protocol and its actual implementation at the field level.
"Special teams are to be constituted to monitor all home isolation cases, call centres/control rooms must aid outbound calling for monitoring such patients and ensuring that all such cases can be shifted to an appropriate health facility through dedicated ambulances," he added.
"A mechanism wherein citizens can call and get an ambulance and a bed in a transparent manner needs to be operationalised. The call centres, district or state-level dashboards/portals can play an important role in organising the same," he said.
Bhushan said states are also requested to ensure that the existing COVID-19 dedicated health infrastructure is revisited and necessary action to ensure its operational readiness be taken.
"A clear focus on rural areas and pediatric cases must also be maintained. States need to regularly review the availability of required logistics, oxygen availability and buffer stock of drugs across all health facilities in the state," he said.
To contain the spread of infection, the implementation of containment activities at the field level is essential, he said.
"Need for effective contact tracing coupled with quarantine of contacts, including facility quarantine for high risk and comorbid contacts, shall be taken up. Sufficient number of quarantine facilities shall accordingly be planned across the state," Bhushan said.