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Center Issues urgent advisory to States over China Pneumonia

Union Health Ministry has advised all the states and Union Territories to immediately review public health and hospital preparedness measures in view of the increasing cases of pneumonia in China. The Union Health Secretary — in a letter to all the States and Union Territories
— advised them to immediately review the preparedness measures in the health department at a senior level.

These measures are, availability of hospital beds, drugs and vaccines for influenza, medical oxygen, antibiotics, personal protective equipment (PPE), testing kits and reagents, functionality of oxygen plants and ventilators, and infection control practices at the health facility centres.

All the states and Union Territories have been asked to implement the ‘Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in the context of Covid-19’. This guideline — which was provided earlier this year — provides integrated surveillance of respiratory pathogens which pose as influenza like illness (ILI) or severe acute respiratory infection (SARI).

They have also been asked to ensure close monitoring of the trends of ILI/SARI by District and state surveillance units of Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP), especially the trends of children and adolescents. The data of ILI/SARI trends is to be uploaded on the IDSP-IHIP portal, particularly from the public health institutions including medical college hospitals.

The Health Ministry is closely monitoring the situation, indicating that there is no need for raising any alarm.

The states have also been asked to send the nasal and throat swabs of patients  with SARI, with special focus on children and adolescents. The swabs will be sent to the Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratories (VRDLs) — located in the states — for testing for respiratory pathogens.

These measures are being implemented with immediate effect as a precautionary and proactive way to prevent any potential situation from arising. This will also ensure the safety and well being of the citizens.

Recently, the World Health Organisation shared information which suggested that there has been an increase in respiratory illness in parts of northern China. This surge has been attributed to influenza, Mycoplasma pneumonia, SARS-CoV-2 etc.

WHO has said that the release of the Covid-19 restrictions at the time of the arrival of winter season, in addition to the already existing cyclical trend of respiratory illnesses has led to this surge.

Although WHO has asked for additional information from the Chinese authorities, it is being assessed that there is no reason for any alarm at the moment.

The Health Ministry’s decision comes as an important measure considering the ongoing winter and influenza season, which results in an increase in the cases of respiratory illness.



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