Ghaziabad: Officials from the Union home ministry and Niti Aayog on Wednesday held a video conferencing with senior officials of Uttar Pradesh about Covid-19 preparedness in the western region of the state.

During the meeting, officials of the four western UP districts were asked to heighten vigil in coming months, especially during the upcoming festival season when the movement of people will be high.

The video conferencing was attended by Awanish Awasthi, UP’s additional chief secretary (home), divisional commissioner (Meerut) and district magistrates of Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar, Baghpat and Meerut. The meeting was held in presence of Dr VK Paul, member of Niti Aayog and senior officers of the Union home ministry, besides the officials from the Indian Council of Medical Research.

“Dr Paul asked all officials to take up steps for heightened vigil especially during the upcoming festival season. He stressed on creating more public awareness and adherence to Covid protocols such as use of mask and social distancing. The officials have also directed that all the symptomatic cases who turn negative through rapid antigen kits should be tested with RT-PCR method,” said Ajay Shankar Pandey, district magistrate of Ghaziabad.

According to Ghaziabad officials, officers from five Haryana districts, including Gurugram and Faridabad, also attended the video conferencing.

Suhas LY, district magistrate of GB Nagar, said, “Our high rate of testing was pointed out during the discussions and presentation we gave. Our testing rate is high among the NCR districts. The officials of the Centre also said that studies have suggested that wearing of mask reduces the chances of contracting infection by 30%. The officials asked us to maintain the work we are doing and also ensure availability of beds.”

The district officials also said that they have been asked to continue with surveillance and enforcement in containment zones in order to find out suspected cases and also to keep in check the spread of Covid-19 infection.

“They termed our surveillance activities as satisfactory. From UP’s side, our officials also raised issue that a lot of manpower is devoted when it comes to enforcement in containment zones. We expect that the Centre may issue some further directions in this regard,” Pandey, the Ghaziabad DM, said.

The Ghaziabad district till September 19 had a list of 629 containment zones.

In this regard, the district magistrate said that he has spoken to the state officials with a proposal in which municipal corporation is to be roped in to manage affairs of the containment zones in the district.

“I have spoken to the state officials if the corporation can be roped in and given responsibility of managing the containment zones. This, of course, will be done with the help of incident commanders who are officers of the district administration. In such a manner, better management of containment zones can be taken up. We are waiting for the response from state officials,” Pandey said.

He added that during the video conferencing, the central officials have also asked for better monitoring of containment zones and keep track of how many patients were discharged, besides ensuring speedy facility allocation.

Meanwhile, Awasthi on Wednesday evening said that the chief minister has directed that Covid-19 tests should be taken up for all high risk groups. “The CM said that high risk groups should be tested through RT-PCR method. He has also said that if anyone having symptoms turns negative through rapid antigen kits, should be tested through RT-PCR,” said the UP’s additional chief secretary (home).

The high risk groups comprise people who are close contacts or family members of positive patients, old aged persons and people with co-morbid conditions.

On Wednesday, Ghaziabad reported 205 new Covid-19 cases, taking the tally to 12,831 in the district. Now, the district has 1,689 active cases, while 11,068 patients have been discharged. On the other hand, GB Nagar saw 152 new positive cases on Wednesday, taking the total number of cases in the district to 11,815. The district is now has 1,615 active cases, as per the data from the state health department.