The rise in COVID-19 cases in various parts of the country appears to be driven by the Omicron variant as well as by the continued presence of Delta, he said and stressed on augmenting human resources, particularly healthcare workers, for Covid management.
“In the present surge, five to 10 per cent of active cases needed hospitalisation so far. The situation is dynamic and evolving. Therefore, the need for hospitalization may also change rapidly,” Bhushan said.
All states and Union Territories are advised to keep a daily watch on the situation of the total number of active cases, cases under home isolation, the number of hospitalized cases, cases on oxygen beds, ICU beds and on ventilatory support, he wrote.
“Based on this monitoring, the requirement of healthcare workers and their availability health facility wise must also be reviewed daily as was done during the second surge,” the health secretary said.
Appreciating that while various states and Union Territories initiated steps for the establishment of jumbo health facilities, field hospitals, temporary hospitals among others, Bhushan said both infrastructure and human resources have their limitations.
Therefore, it is important to conserve healthcare workers by initiating staggering wherever possible and by restricting elective procedures in the hospitals, he advised.
It is also important to strictly follow the advisory, issued by the Health Ministry on January 9, for managing healthcare workers in Covid and non-Covid areas of healthcare facilities.
The ministry has suggested states and Union Territories to earmark different categories of beds in private clinical establishments for Covid care.
“It must also be ensured that charges levied by such health facilities are reasonable and there is a mechanism to monitor and initiate action in cases of over-charging if any,” Bhushan said in the letter.
He also suggested engaging retired medical professionals or MBBS students for teleconsultation services and providing skill training of community volunteers in basic care and management at Covid Care Centres.
The health secretary also suggested requisition of additional ambulances or private vehicles to improve referral transport and facilitate seamless transfer of COVID-19 cases from home isolation or from Covid Care Centres to Covid Dedicated Hospitals.
All district hospitals and medical college hospitals should be used as eSanjeevani teleconsultation hubs. Requisite financial resources for this have already been provided under ECRP-II to states and Union Territories, Bhushan said in the letter.