NEW DELHI: The home ministry on Friday constituted four more inter-ministerial central teams (IMCTs) to assess the “serious” Covid-19 situation in emerging hotspots of Ahmedabad and Surat in Gujarat, Hyderabad in Telangana and Chennai in Tamil Nadu. Also, the IMCT for Mumbai will make an on-the-spot assessment for Thane in Maharashtra.
These teams will issue necessary directions to state authorities for redressal of the situation and submit their report to the Central government “in larger interest of general public”, said the home ministry. Headed by additional secretary-level officers and comprising public health specialists and disaster management experts, the IMCTs would use their expertise to augment the states’ efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The Centre had earlier constituted six IMCTs to visit Kolkata and other areas of West Bengal, Mumbai and Pune in Maharashtra, Indore in Madhya Pradesh and Jaipur in Rajasthan. The move behind deputing the 10 teams, constituted so far, was prompted by reports of violations of lockdown in these areas, which pose a serious health hazard and risk for spread of the virus. The violations include incidents ranging from violence on front-line healthcare professionals, attacks on police personnel, violations of social distancing norms in market places and opposition to setting up of quarantine centres.
The IMCTs are focusing on a range of issues including compliance and implementation of lockdown measures as per guidelines issued under the Disaster Management Act 2005, supply of essential commodities, social distancing in movement of people outside their homes, preparedness of health infrastructure, hospital facilities and sample statistics in the district, safety of health professionals, availability of test kits, PPEs, masks and other safety equipment and conditions of relief camps for migrant workers and the poor.
Sharing feedback from the IMCTs deputed earlier, MHA officer Punya Salila Srivastava said the Indore team had found the situation in 20 of the 171 containment zones “very critical”. However, contact tracing efforts, measures for safety of health professionals, availability of PPEs, testing kits and masks and adherence to the lockdown were found to be adequate. During its visit to Mhow containment zone, the team held discussions with contact tracing and screening teams. It also visited quarantine and health centres, PDS shops and dedicated Covid hospitals. In discussions with all stakeholders, the team was informed about ‘sauda patra’ facility that allows a farmer to sell wheat at MSP without visiting mandi. The team also held discussions with the chief minister and senior state government officials.
The team that visited Govandi, Wadali and Dharavi in Mumbai reported that since residents used community toilets, they had to leave their homes. So the team recommended placing of portable toilets at suitable locations. Also, since Dharavi situation was dependent on home quarantine, institutional quarantine of 2,000-3,000 people was suggested. Increase in testing and number of surveillance teams with aid of local volunteers was recommended. The team visited quarantine centres and community kitchens and held discussions with the CM and senior state government officers via video/conferencing.
The team in West Bengal asked the state government for details of protocol for declaring death of a Covid-19 patient. The team reported that the situation in Bangur hospital was chaotic with bodies lying on beds in wards, testing slow and few ventilation beds available. The team felt the state was nearing peak of its testing capacity and sought to know what steps were being taken to increase its capacity from 2500 to 5,000 a day.
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