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Center concerned about Covid positivity in some states amid H3N2 flu cases

States were also asked to provide updates on hospital preparedness. (TO FILE)

New Delhi:

Amid an increase in cases of the seasonal H3N2 flu subtype, the Center on Saturday expressed concern over a gradual increase in the rate of COVID-19 positivity in some states and said it needed to be addressed quickly. .

The Center has directed all states and union territories to follow the operational guidelines for integrated surveillance of respiratory pathogens presenting as influenza-like-illness (ILI) or severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) cases.

States were also asked to provide updates on hospital preparedness, such as the availability of medicines and medical oxygen, vaccination coverage against COVID-19 and influenza.

“While the trajectory of COVID-19 has declined significantly over the past few months, the gradual increase in COVID-19 test positivity rates in some states is a concerning issue that must be addressed quickly,” the Secretary told Union Health, Rajesh Bhushan, in a letter to States and UT on Saturday.

Despite a low number of new cases, an equally low number of hospitalizations and significant progress made in terms of vaccination coverage against COVID-19, Mr. Bhushan said, there is a need to remain vigilant and focus on the five-pronged strategy of test, track, treat. , vaccination and respect for behavior adapted to Covid.

In light of the upward trend of other ILIs and SARIs seen in some states and UTs across the country, a meeting was held recently to review the current situation with relevant central ministries, departments and organizations.

While influenza is an annual seasonal occurrence, in the current season a variety of weather and behavioral reasons – less than adequate attention to personal hygiene, coughing without adequate protection, closed gatherings indoors , etc. – make the environment conducive to the circulation of a number of viral respiratory pathogens such as influenza A (H1N1, H3N2, etc.) and adenoviruses, he mentioned.

Under the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP), as reported by states and UTs, an upward trend of ILI/SARI is observed across the country, Bhushan said.

In addition, according to the integrated sentinel surveillance of ILI and SARI, an upsurge in influenza A has been observed since the second half of last December.

“The preponderance of influenza A (H3N2) detected in samples analyzed in various laboratories is of particular concern. It should also be borne in mind that young children, the elderly and people with comorbidities are particularly at risk and vulnerable to H1N1, H3N2, adenoviruses, etc.,” he said.

Additionally, since Jan. 1, according to respiratory sample testing performed by various Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratories (VRDL), nearly 25.4 percent of samples tested positive for adenoviruses, he said. declared.

Although most of these agents usually cause similar mild and often self-limiting illness manifesting as acute respiratory infection with fever and cough, in some cases, especially the elderly, obese and other comorbidities as well as pregnant women, infected people may suffer from a more severe manifestation of these diseases requiring hospitalization, Bhushan pointed out.

“In order to limit the transmission of these diseases, it is important to raise awareness in the community to respect respiratory and hand hygiene, to promote the early reporting of symptoms and to limit contact with people suffering from respiratory diseases,” said writes Mr. Bhushan in the letter.

In terms of public health actions required, it is essential that state and district IDSP units closely monitor the trend of SG and SARI in their respective areas, monitor the proportion of cases and refer sufficient numbers of samples. for screening for influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and adenovirus.

“All States and UTs should implement in letter and spirit the “Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in the Context of COVID-19” which provide for integrated surveillance of respiratory pathogens presenting as cases of SG/SARI,” the letter reads.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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