In a letter by union health secretary to States and UTs, they have been advised to immediately review public health and hospital preparedness measures viz. availability of HR, hospital beds, drugs and vaccines for influenza, medical oxygen, antibiotics, personal protective equipment, testing kits and reagents, functionality of oxygen plants and ventilators, infection control practices in health facilities, at a senior level
In view of the recent reports indicating a surge in respiratory illness in children in northern China in the recent weeks, the Union Health Ministry has proactively decided to review the preparedness measures against respiratory illnesses, as a matter of abundant caution.
This is noted to be important in view of the ongoing influenza and winter season that results in an increase in respiratory illness cases. Government of India is closely monitoring the situation, and indicated that there is no need for any alarm.
In a letter by union health secretary to States and UTs, they have been advised to immediately review public health and hospital preparedness measures viz. availability of HR, hospital beds, drugs and vaccines for influenza, medical oxygen, antibiotics, personal protective equipment, testing kits and reagents, functionality of oxygen plants and ventilators, infection control practices in health facilities, at a senior level.
All states and union Territories have ben advised to implement ‘Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in the context of COVID-19’, shared earlier this year, which provides for integrated surveillance of respiratory pathogens presenting as cases of influenza like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI), said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
They have also been asked to ensure that the trends of ILI/SARI should be closely monitored by the district and state surveillance units of Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP), particularly of children and adolescents, it added.
The data of ILI/SARI is required to be uploaded on IDSP- IHIP portal particularly from the public health institutions including medical college hospitals. States also asked to send nasal and throat swab samples of patients with SARI, particularly of children and adolescents, to Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratories (VRDL’s) located in the States for testing for respiratory pathogens, explained the ministry.
The cumulative effect of implementation of these precautionary and proactive collaborative measures is expected to counter any potential situation and ensure the safety and well-being of the citizens, said the ministry.
Recently, information shared by WHO has indicated an increase in respiratory illness in northern parts of China. This is predominantly attributed to usual causes like Influenza, Mycoplasma pneumonia, SARS-CoV-2 etc, cautioned the ministry.
As per WHO, the release of Covid-19 restrictions coinciding with the onset of winter season in addition to cyclical trend of respiratory illnesses such as Mycoplasma pneumonia have led to this surge. While WHO has sought additional information from Chinese authorities, it is assessed that there is no cause for any alarm at the moment.
Meanwhile, amid the reported outbreak of H9N2 cases and clusters of respiratory illness in children in northern China, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital Director Dr Ajay Shukla advised people to be careful, follow routine practices of cleanness and if there’s someone who has got this respiratory illness or infection they should try to maintain distance from other people.
“I would just advise people to be careful. Follow routine practices of cleanness and if you feel that there’s someone who’s got this respiratory illness or infection, since a lot of these cases are viral and they can be transmitted, try to maintain distance from other people,” Dr Shukla said on Friday.
Dr Shukla added that experts have also said that there is no need to worry about the disease in India as its symptoms have not been seen in the country yet.
“Not a single patient infected with this disease has been found in India yet. There is no increase in cases in any part of India so far, or any part of the world apart from China. So all the cases that we’re hearing are from China,” the doctor said. The Director of RML Hospital said that earlier 20 to 30 children came to the hospital every day, but now their number is less as 10 to 15 children are coming to the hospital. The number of children with respiratory diseases is not much, he said adding that there is no patient suffering from this disease in his hospital at present.
“According to the very few details that are available, people are saying there’s nothing to panic about, there’s nothing to suggest it is something that will take the shape of a pandemic, like with COVID. So, we should not start comparing it with that. I would suggest that we need to monitor the situation very closely and wait for additional information before we reach any conclusion,” he said.
The RML Hospital Director said that there is normally an increasing number of influenza cases before the winter every year and this does not suggest an abnormal increase in cases.
“You see every winter because of the cold and because of the pollution, there’s always an increasing number of cases, especially respiratory illnesses, we see an increase so I mean, that increase is bound to happen because we’ve not really felt the winter so far. So those cases are going to increase. I don’t think there’s any reason why we should feel that we will have an increase beyond that increase which is seen every year,” Dr Shukla said.