Mock drills held across India to test COVID readiness

Clinical readiness at hospitals is crucial, minister said, noting that both government and private hospitals are undertaking mock drills

Update: 2022-12-27 07:51 GMT
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya speaks with a doctor as a medic collects swab sample of a woman, during a nationwide mock drill for COVID-19 preparedness, at Safdarjung hospital in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: In order to assess the preparedness of health facilities to deal with any spike in Covid-19 cases, various hospitals across the country held mock drills on Tuesday. Underscoring the importance of the mock drills, Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, who oversaw the drill at the Centre-run Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi, said it was important to gauge the operational readiness of equipment and human resources. Health ministers reviewed the drills in their respective states.

According to Union health ministry data updated on Tuesday, India recorded a single-day rise of 157 new Covid-19 cases, while the count of active cases of the disease marginally decreased to 3,421. Notwithstanding the present Covid tally in the country, the Centre, following an increase in Covid cases in China and other countries, asked states and Union territories to conduct the drill as part of precautionary measures.

Officials said the mock drill focused on parameters such as the availability of health facilities in all districts, the capacity of isolation beds, oxygen-supported beds, ICU beds and ventilator-supported beds and the optimal availability of doctors, nurses, paramedics, AYUSH doctors and other frontline workers, including ASHA and Anganwadi workers.

Mr Mandaviya said the drill was necessary to know how prepared our hospitals are. "Covid cases are rising all over the world and India might witness a spike in cases too. Hence, it is important that the entire Covid infrastructure, in terms of equipment, processes and human resources are in a state of operational readiness," he stated.

Clinical readiness at hospitals is crucial, Mr Mandaviya said, while noting that both government and private hospitals are undertaking mock drills.

Cautioning against complacency, he urged everyone to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour. He also asked people to refrain from sharing unverified information and ensure high level of preparedness.


Mr Mandaviya had an informal interactive session with the heads of departments and staff of Safdarjung Hospital and Vardhman Mahavir Medical College. The session lasted for about an-hour-and-a-half, during which the Union health minister listened to the suggestions on quality hospital management, clinical practices, infection control measures, sanitation processes and patient-centric high-quality healthcare provision.  

In the national capital, the drills took place at various government-run facilities, including the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital. Some private hospitals also reportedly conducted the mock drill on Tuesday.

Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the health portfolio, visited the Delhi government-run LNJP Hospital around noon to assess the drill.

A Delhi health department official said that Covid-19 testing in the city is also likely to be ramped up soon. At present, around 2,500 to 3,000 tests are being conducted daily in the city.

Delhi has recorded over 2,007,000 Covid cases and 26,521 deaths since the pandemic started in early 2020. The number of daily cases has remained below 20 and the positivity rate below one per cent since mid-November, according to official data.

Dr B.L. Sherwal, the medical superintendent of Safdarjung Hospital, said, "All symptomatic patients shall be screened, assessed and tested right there in the Covid centre.The report shall be made available within one to two hours, following which the decision on admission or discharge shall be taken. Till that time, the patient can be monitored. All beds have oxygen facilities."

Four international travellers from Myanmar, who tested positive for Covid at the Delhi airport, are admitted at the Safdarjung Hospital and their samples have been sent for genome sequencing.

"They were asymptomatic. They will be discharged once they test negative," Dr Sherwal informed.

In Uttar Pradesh, deputy chief minister Brajesh Pathak visited a hospital in Lucknow to ascertain its preparedness to deal with any eventuality. Two Covid-19 cases, one each in Unnao and Agra districts, were recoded among persons who had recently returned from abroad.

"A mock drill is being conducted across all Covid hospitals in the state to check their preparedness. I personally checked the Covid management (facilities), oxygen flow and ventilators at Lucknow's Balrampur Hospital. Everything is working fine. A mock drill is being conducted for medical, paramedical and nursing staff on how to function in case of an emergency," Mr Pathak, who is also the state's health minister, said.

At least one senior officer, MLA or minister is present at the drills in hospitals across the state. Covid-19 is there in other countries but there is no scare in Uttar Pradesh at this point, Mr Pathak said.

In Mumbai, medical facilities, including the civic-run Seven Hills Hospital (having 1,700 beds) and Kasturba Hospital (35 beds), government-run Cama Hospital (100 beds), St George Hospital (70 beds), Tata Hospital (16 beds), and Jagjivan Ram Hospital (12 beds) conducted the mock drill.

To diagnose and track Covid-19 cases, the city has a daily testing capacity of 1,35,035 at 34 hospitals and 49 laboratories, according to the release.

In Madhya Pradesh, such drills were conducted in all government medical institutions in the state.

State medical education minister Vishvas Sarang said the Covid-19 situation in Madhya Pradesh was under control and not a single positive case was reported from the state in the recent past.

"We are ready to deal with any situation. The drill was conducted to check the preparedness of oxygen generation, Intensive Care Unit, Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, oxygen-supported beds, medicines," Mr Sarang said while appealing to all to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour.

Officials in West Bengal said the mock drill was conducted at Kolkata-based hospitals, including MR Bangur Hospital, Infectious Diseases and Beleghata General Hospital, Medical College Hospital Kolkata, RG Kar Medical College and Shambhunath Pandit Hospital, besides Dr BC Roy Post Graduate Institute of Paediatric Sciences. All private hospitals in the city and one hospital each in the districts are also taking part in the drill, the official added.

Karnataka health minister K. Sudhakar said Covid response mock drills were conducted in all districts and taluks across the state. He said the BF.7 variant of Covid-19 is transmissible with low virulence, but emphasised that senior citizens, children and pregnant women must remain cautious.

The total number of COVID cases in the country has now reached 4.46 crore. The death toll from the disease stands at 5,306,969, with one fatality reconciled by Kerala, according to the data update. The daily positivity rate was recorded at 0.32 per cent, while the weekly positivity was pegged at 0.18 per cent, the health ministry said.

It said 49,464 tests for detection of COVID-19 were conducted in the last 24 hours. Active cases now comprise 0.01 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has increased to 98.80 per cent, according to the ministry.

In another development, Bharat Biotech’s intranasal vaccine "iNNOVACC", is now available on the CoWIN portal. It is priced at '800 (excluding GST) for private markets and '325 (excluding GST) for government supplies. It will be rolled out in the fourth week of January.


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