Press Trust of india

Adopt measures to ensure safety of COVID-19 health workers: Health Ministry to states

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New Delhi:  The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday advised chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories to adopt adequate measures in ensuring the safety of health workers involved in COVID-19 services.

In a letter, Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan said amongst all professionals, the skills and services of these health workers places them in a unique position of saving lives in these times of pandemic.

“States and UTs are advised to take up various measures including human resource and capacity building training, medical safety, staffing guideline and timely payments, psychological support, training of frontline workers and life insurance cover,” she said.

According to a health ministry statement, till now, 3,870 people in India have been cured of the coronavirus infection and the recovery rate is 19.36 per cent.

As many as 1,383 new COVID-19 cases and 50 fatalities have been reported in the 24 hours since Tuesday morning, taking the total number of infections to 19,984 and death toll to 640.

In the statement, the health ministry said the Union Cabinet has on Wednesday recommended promulgating an ordinance to ensure the safety of doctors under the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897. It also said the Indian Council of Medical Research has forwarded to all states a protocol for using rapid antibody test kits.

“It is reiterated that antibody rapid tests are largely to be used as a tool for surveillance. Globally also, utility of this test is evolving and it is currently being used for detecting the formation of antibodies in individuals.

“These test results are also dependent on field conditions. As noted by ICMR, these tests cannot replace the RT-PCR test to diagnose COVID-19 cases,” the statement said.

The ICMR has assured assistance in collection of data from various states to assess the scope and extent of utility of these rapid antibody test kits in field conditions, and will keep advising the states on a regular basis.

The states have also been advised to follow the prescribed protocol for these tests and use it for the purposes for which they are meant, the statement stated.

It also stated that the government will conduct a telephonic survey to garner feedback from citizens on prevalence and distribution of coronavirus symptoms and urged people to participate in the exercise in good measure wherein citizens will be contacted on their mobile phone from the number 1921, through the National Informatics Centre (NIC).

“This is a genuine survey. All citizens are requested to participate in it to help government get proper feedback on the prevalence and distribution of COVID-19 symptoms,” the statement said.

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