The Tamil Nadu government on May 8 issued a government order for the formation of a COVID-19 war room. The already existing Unified Command Centre (UCC) in Chennai, will now function as a war room and act as a single nodal point for all COVID-19 related control activities in the state. The UCC will serve as a command centre to monitor oxygen supply, bed management and inspection of facilities both in government and private sector hospitals across the state. This comes following the Chief Ministerâ€™s announcement on May 5 that a war room will be formed.
Notably, the UCC was formed on April 30 this year, already acting as a cross-departmental leadership hub for COVID-19 control activities in the state.
The UCC will also utilise the services of the 104 health helpline for better management of grievance redressal, both through the ongoing call centre as well as via the new social media (Twitter) handle of 104. Additionally, the UCC will take care of the oxygen cylinder requirements in private hospitals, which will be coordinated with the support of the state Drug Controller.
The UCC will be headed by Dr Darez Ahamed IAS, who is Executive Director of GUIDANCE, Chennai. K Nanthakumar IAS (Secretary, TNPSC), Dr S Uma IAS (Addl Collector, Development), Dr S Vineet IAS (Jt Managing Director, TANGEDCO), Dr KP Karthikeyan IAS (Executive Director, TIDCO) and R Alagumeena (DRO/General Manager, TANFINET) have been assigned specific tasks at the UCC.
The major activities entrusted to the UCC include:
> Managing bed and oxygen availability across facilities in Tamil Nadu.
> Liasoning with appropriate departments to increase the bed availability and availability of oxygen in both the government and private hospitals in the state.
> Ensuring that all treating hospitals (government and private) should admit and resuscitate â€śCode Redâ€ť patients on a priority basis referred by UCC.
> Monitoring both government and private health care hospitals, in and around Chennai, through field inspection teams.
> Being responsible for analysing, assessing and forecasting state-specific data on the COVID-19 crisis and communicating accurate information to the government in a timely manner.
> Enhancing response capabilities of 108, 104 and 102 and also social media handles of 104.
> Liaisoning of existing COVID-19 related services with Chief Minister Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme, Clinical Establishment Act and Public Health Act.
The major teams under UCC include social media surveillance team, response and triage team, bed management of private hospital teams, bed management team of Directorate of Medical Education, DMS Coordination and non-empanelled hospitals, indent quality assurance teams (NGOs and volunteers), field Inspection team, and public health field survey teams.
The 108 team, the drug controller team and data analysis and O2 forecasting team will form UCCâ€™s support system.
Among preventive measures already taken, the government re-constituted the Field Support Team comprising, of senior IAS officers supported by district revenue officers, police officers and medical officers, to all the zones of the Greater Chennai Corporation, to ensure effective preventive measures taken against the spread of COVID-19.