Centre-appointed teams have pointed out serious problems in the management of the COVID-19 situation in Maharashtra, Punjab and Chhattisgarh which are reporting the maximum deaths in the country.
The teams which visited 30 districts of Maharashtra, 11 in Chhattisgarh and nine districts in Punjab said violation of COVID appropriate behaviour was a common trait among people in all the three states. Most of the issues that the teams reported pertained to discrepancies in lack of enough healthcare workers, optimal use of healthcare facilities like ventilators and oxygen cylinders, lack of RT-PCR testing and absence of COVID hospitals in several districts.
In Maharashtra, the team said the testing capacity in Satara, Bhandara, Palghar, Amrawati, Jalna and Latur districts is overwhelmed, which in turn has resulted in delay in getting test results. The delay is slowing down admissions of patients, leading to late treatment and subsequent deaths within 72 hours of admission in Satara district. Malfunctioning of ventilators has also been reported in Satara and Latur districts. The team also reported problems in oxygen supply in Bhandara, Palghar, Osmanabad and Pune.
The team reported high occupancy rates of available hospital beds in Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Nandurbar. Aurangabad on the other hand is dependent on neighbouring districts for the handling of critical patients.
The districts of Aurangabad, Nandurbar, Yawatmal, Satara, Palghar, Jalgaon and Jalna are reeling under an acute shortage of healthcare workers while lack of manpower has hit surveillance and contact tracing in Bhuldhana, Satara, Aurangabad and Nanded.
Lack of dedicated COVID care centre, dismal rate of testing and shortage of healthcare workers were the key problems that the teams sent to Punjab spoke of.
Patients in SAS Nagar and Rupnagar districts are being referred to Chandigarh or neighbouring districts due to lack of COVID care facilities. Besides the hospital bed occupancy is high in SAS Nagar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana.
The team said ventilators are not being used to their optimum limit in Rupnagar as the district lacks enough staff including doctors and nurses. The central team pressed for increased contact tracing in Patiala and Ludhiana.
Teams sent to Chhattisgarh reported high hospital bed occupancy in Balod, Raipur, Durg and Mahasamund districts.
They also reported a shortage of RT-PCR testing facilities, Remdesivir and Heparin as well as oxygen and ambulance services. The team has recommended district-level and hospital-level oxygen planning in all districts of the state.
Besides, lack of perimeter control in containment zones have been reported by the team from Raipur and Jashpur.
Resistance to containment measures and testing including attacks on healthcare workers was reported in Dhaneli village in Raipur, which the team said needs immediate redressal.
The teams were sent to the COVID affected states following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s review meeting with chief ministers. The Health Ministry has shot letters to the three states about the feedback from the central teams.
India on Sunday breached the 11 lakh-mark in its active caseload of COVID-19 cases, the highest so far.
“The five states of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala cumulatively account for 70.2 per cent of India’s total active cases. Maharashtra alone accounts for 48.57 per cent of the total active caseload of the country,” the Health Ministry said.
The report of the teams also come at a time several states including the above three have complained of acute vaccine shortage, even though the Centre has embarked on an ambitious Tika Utsav to vaccinate all eligible beneficiaries against COVID-19.