New Delhi: A two-day dry run to check the preparedness of health authorities for a future nationwide COVID-19 vaccination programme began on Monday in four states. The government has proposed mass rollout of COVID-19 vaccine in January.Also Read - Vladimir Putin Decides to Receive Russian Coronavirus Vaccine Sputnik V

The dry run planned by the Centre will be carried out on December 28 and 29 in the states of Punjab, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Also Read - Can COVID-19 Vaccines Protect You From The New Coronavirus Strain? Know The Truth

The exercise will include necessary data entry in Co-WIN, an online platform for monitoring of vaccine delivery, testing receipt and allocation, deployment of team members, mock drill of session sites with test beneficiaries, the Union Health Ministry had said. Also Read - Oxford Coronavirus Vaccine Has 'Winning Formula', Will 'Protect 95% of Patients', Says AstraZeneca CEO

The states put into place additional measures including testing of people arriving from abroad in the wake of the new coronavirus strain being detected in the UK.

Here’s how and where the four states are carrying out the two-day dry run of COVID-19 vaccine:

Gujarat

Gujarat is conducting the mock COVID-19 vaccination drive n Rajkot and Gandhinagar districts of Gujarat. “In Gujarat, the dry run is being carried out in Rajkot district, Rajkot city, Gandhinagar district and Gandhinagar city,” State Immunisation Office Dr Nayan Jani told reporters.

He said local health officials of these districts and cities will engage in administrative work on the first day of the drive.

“On Monday, we will be doing only administrative and paper work, such as uploading data of beneficiaries, manpower and cold chain infrastructure on Co-WIN (a central software application developed for the vaccination drive),” he said.

“The actual field visits will begin on Tuesday,” Jani said, adding that actual (potential) vaccine shots will not be administered on people during the dry run.

Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation (GMC) has identified 125 beneficiaries in the city who will be covered during the mock drill on Tuesday, said GMC Health Officer Dr Kalpesh Goswami. He said a total of 50 health personnel will visit the identified beneficiaries at five different sites in the city.

Andhra Pradesh

The Andhra Pradesh government picked up Krishna district for the dry run, where it is being carried out in five locations, according to Health Commissioner Katamaneni Bhaskar.

“The dry run is aimed at testing the planned operations and the laid out mechanisms for COVID-19 vaccination in the state. It will provide insights into any gaps or bottlenecks so that those could be addressed before the commencement of the actual drive,” Bhaskar said on the eve of the programme.

Planning and preparations, including prerequisites for the vaccine introduction as per the Operational Guidelines, will also be assessed through the dry run.

The dry run will be carried out in five sessions at identified locations with 25 test beneficiaries (healthcare workers) for each session.

These test beneficiaries will be present at the session sites for necessary simulation, he added.

Bhaskar said an AEFI (Adverse Event Following Immunisation) committee formed as per the new guidelines and AEFI treatment centres were also identified.

After the dry run, we will prepare a report for the State Task Force, which will review the feedback and guide us on further actions. The report will also be submitted to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Commissioner said.

Punjab

Preparations were also underway on Monday to conduct the mock vaccination drive in Punjab’s in SBS Nagar and Ludhiana.

As per instructions of Ministry Health & Family welfare, SBS Nagar identified five session sites including District Hospital SBS Nagar, CHC Mukandpur, PHC Jadla as Urban outreach, Sub center Usmanpur as Rural outreach and Ivy Hospital as Private Facility.

Similarly, seven sites have been identified in Ludhiana- Lord Mahavir Civil Hospital as District Hospital, Dayanand Medical college and Hospital as Private Facility, Three Urban outreach Jagraon SDH, Raikot SDH and Khanna SDH, Rural outreach sites including CHC Dhamot and Machiwara CHC.

Dayanand Medical College in Ludhiana started assessing its preparedness in a phased manner with priority groups- healthcare workers, frontline workers, elderly and population with co-morbidities in the states.

Worries Over New Strain From UK

This vaccine drive dry run begins amid a new coronavirus strain being detected in the UK with several returnees from the country currently being tested for the variant.

As part of the strategy that has been put in place to detect and contain the mutant variant detected in the UK, five percent of the positive cases of COVID-19 from all states and UTs will be tested for Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS), the Union Health Ministry had said on Saturday after a meeting of the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 on the issue.

Further, more than 50 samples of UK returnees are currently under sequencing at the designated laboratories.

In Maharashtra, the Mumbai civic body issued revised guidelines to ensure the compulsory quarantine for 14 days for all passengers arriving from the UK, Europe, and the Middle East.

As per the amended Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), travellers will be kept under institutional quarantine after arrival and-PCR test will be conducted on the seventh day from the arrival at the respective hotels, institutional facilities at their own coast.

“If the report of the test is found negative, the passenger would be discharged from the institutional quarantine after seven days with the advice of seven days mandatory home quarantine. A total of 14 days quarantine is to be ensured,” the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said in a release.

As per the guidelines, home quarantine stamp will be put and undertaking will be taken from the travellers that they will abide to be in home quarantine.

If the test result is found positive, passenger will be shifted to designated COVID-19 hospitals.

All passengers who had arrived from the UK between December 21 and 23 have been tested at the airports and only after the-PCR test result are available, the negative passengers were permitted to exit the airports.

All positively tested passengers were put under institutional isolation and their samples sent for Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS)

All passengers who had arrived from the UK between 25th November and 20th December 2020 were being tracked by the IDSP State Surveillance Units (SSUs) and District Surveillance Units (DSUs)

Samples of all positive cases are being sent for WGS and enhanced contact tracing of these positive cases is being undertaken and these contacts are also put under facility quarantine, the ministry had said.

Lowest Daily Cases in 6 Months

This comes as India registered the lowest single-day rise in COVID-19 cases in nearly six months at 18,732. In a statement, the Union Health Ministry said on Sunday the country has reported a trend of sustained decrease in the number of active cases.

The COVID-19 active caseload in the country also dipped to 2.78 lakh, the lowest after 170 days, the Health Ministry said.

“India’s present active caseload consists of just 2.74 per cent of India’s total positive cases,” it said.

The total recovered cases stand at 97,61,538. The gap between recovered and active cases, that is steadily increasing, is nearing 95 lakh and presently stands at 94,82,848, the ministry said.

“The difference in the new recoveries outnumbering new cases has also improved the recovery rate to 95.82 percent.

The ministry said the daily new caseload dropped below 19,000 after six months. A total of 18,732 were added to the national tally in the last 24 hours.

The new added cases were 18,653 on July 1. The ministry said 76.52 percent of the new cases are concentrated in 10 states and UTs.

“Kerala reported the highest daily new cases at 3,527. It is followed by Maharashtra with 2,854 new cases,” it said.

India’s COVID-19 tally of cases climbed to 1,01,87,850 on Sunday.

According to the ICMR, a cumulative total of 16,81,02,657 samples have been tested up to December 26 with 9,43,368 samples being tested on Saturday.

India’s COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 30 lakh on August 23 and 40 lakh on September 5. It went past 50 lakh on September 16, 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11 and crossed 80 lakh on October 29 and 90 lakh on November 20.

The 279 new fatalities include 60 from Maharashtra, 23 from Delhi, 33 from West Bengal, 21 from Kerala, 14 from Uttar Pradesh, 13 from Uttarakhand and 12 each from Punjab and Chattisgarh.

A total of 1,47,622 deaths have been reported so far in the country including 49189 from Maharashtra followed by 12051 from Karnataka, 12059 from Tamil Nadu, 10437 from Delhi, 9569 from West Bengal, 8293 from Uttar Pradesh, 7092 from Andhra Pradesh, 5281 from Punjab and 4275 from Gujarat.

The health ministry stressed that more than 70 per cent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities.

“Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research,” the ministry said on its website, adding that state-wise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation.

(With PTI inputs)