The Centre on Saturday told the Supreme Court that it is “continuously preparing” the states and union territories, and their infrastructure to deal with future resurgence of COVID-19 in the country.
In an affidavit filed in the apex court, the Centre said the possibility of a resurgence would necessarily be “speculative” at this stage.
However, the possibility of resurgence would depend on the behaviour pattern of the virus, behaviour of citizens as to whether they are following Covid appropriate behaviour or not, the affidavit said.
“State governments/union territories (UTs) have been cautioned to maintain a continuous vigil and plan in advance for any exigencies that may arise due to resurgence of COVID-19 in their respective states,” said the affidavit which was filed in the top court in the suo motu case on distribution of essential supplies and services during the pandemic.
It said on May 29, 10 empowered groups in government of India were reconstituted, keeping such potential threat in mind, to facilitate inter-ministerial coordination and fast-track decision making on various facets of COVID-19 management.
“These include empowered groups on (i) emergency management plan and strategy, (ii) emergency response capabilities, (iii) augmenting human resources and capacity building, (iv) oxygen (v) vaccination, (vi) testing (vii) partnership (viii) information, communication and public engagement (ix) economic and welfare measures and (x) pandemic response and coordination,” the affidavit said.
It said the Centre is in close and continuous collaboration with states and UTs, and is monitoring the COVID-19 situation throughout the country up to the district level on a daily basis.
The affidavit said the website of the Union health ministry displays on a daily basis the district-wise positivity trend to guide states to take appropriate public health response.
“It is submitted that though the trajectory of the COVID-19 spread throughout the country is encouraging as of now, the central government is continuously preparing state governments/UTs, and their infrastructure to meet with any future resurgence,” it said.
It said communications are regularly being sent to states on current trajectory of cases, need for adherence to the ‘test-track-treat’ policy for containment of outbreaks, need for adherence to Covid appropriate behaviour, vaccination and other related issues.
In the affidavit, the Centre said that states are being provided with projections on future requirements of bed capacities in Covid health care facilities based on existing trends of cases.
“It is also stated that all states have been provided with detailed measures on containment, besides a template for preparation of district action plan.
The high case load districts have been specifically reviewed and asked to present their district action plan for COVID-19 management during the periodical and regular video conferences held by the central government at various levels,” it said.
It said advisories and protocols specifically related to clinical management have been refined and updated in expert consultation, and widely circulated to optimise treatment outcomes and minimise mortality.
It said that technical advisories have also been issued for management of Mucormycosis (black fungus).
“It is submitted that with a view to increase the availability of trained human resources to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic situation and any potential resurgence, states have been advised to explore avenues for utilisation of services of medical interns, final-year MBBS students, final-year PG students as well as final-year super-specialty students as residents,” it said.
“It was also advised to utilise the services of B.Sc/GNM qualified nurses, final-year GNM or B.Sc (Nursing) students under appropriate guidance,” the affidavit said.
The Centre has said services of allied health care professionals have also been planned based on their training and certification.
“States are also being provided with requisite financial support under the National Health Mission, the State Disaster Response Fund and the India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Package,” it said.
“It is submitted that so far as oxygen requirement is concerned, fortunately there is no crisis situation in view of the recent declining trajectory of active cases,” the affidavit said.
It said the Centre has already commenced efforts to augment oxygen production as mentioned in a previous affidavit filed in the apex court.
The Supreme Court had on May 6 constituted a National Task Force on Oxygen in a separate matter, according to affidavit.
“The recommendations of the said task force have been received and most of the said recommendations were already under implementation on a war footing,” it said.
The affidavit said that recent media reports regarding incidents of unauthorised or fake vaccination drives have come to the notice of the Centre.
“States/ UTs have been directed vide letter dated June 25, 2021, to promptly investigate any alleged irregularities and take suitable action, wherever necessary. It is submitted that any valid vaccination can only be through Co-WIN platform,” it said.
The apex court, in its May 31 order, had raised a slew of questions while hearing the suo motu case.