Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday reviewed the COVID-19 situation and vaccination exercise in the country amid an “alarming rate of growth” in infections and deaths, with 10 states contributing to more than 91 percent of them.
Modi said the five-fold strategy of testing, tracing, treatment, COVID-appropriate behaviour, and vaccination if implemented with utmost seriousness and commitment would be effective in curbing the pandemic’s spread, according to an official statement.
The meeting came on a day India recorded 93,249 new coronavirus infections, the highest single-day rise so far this year that took the total COVID-19 cases to 1,24,85,509, according to Union health ministry data.
The reasons for the sharp rise in cases could be mainly attributed to the severe decline in compliance of COVID-appropriate behaviour, especially in the use of masks and social distancing, pandemic fatigue and lack of effective implementation of containment measures at the field level, according to the statement released after the prime minister’s review meeting with senior officials.
Prime Minister Modi called for avoiding mortality under all circumstances by ramping up healthcare infrastructure and other measures and exhorted that all states need to take required stringent measures with comprehensive restrictions in places witnessing high surge to curb the spread.
“A detailed presentation was made which highlighted that there is an alarming rate of growth of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country with 10 states contributing to more than 91 percent of cases and deaths due to COVID,” the statement said.
The meeting was also informed that vaccine manufacturers are ramping up their production capacity and are also in discussion with other domestic and offshore companies to augment the same.
Noting that the situation in Maharashtra, Punjab, and Chhattisgarh is of serious concern, a presentation in the meeting highlighted that the western state has contributed 57 percent of the total cases and 47 percent of deaths in the country in the last 14 days.
In Maharashtra, the total number of new cases per day has touched 47,913, which is more than double its earlier peak.
Punjab has contributed 4.5 percent of the total cases in the country in the same period but has accounted for 16.3 percent of the total deaths, a matter of serious concern, the statement said. Similarly, though Chhattisgarh has contributed 4.3 percent of the total cases nationwide in the last 14 days, its contribution in total deaths has exceeded seven percent during the same period.
The 10 high burden states and UTs are contributing 91.4 percent of the total cases and 90.9 percent of the total deaths in the country.
Modi directed that central teams consisting of public health specialists and clinicians be sent to Maharashtra in view of its high caseload and deaths, and to Punjab and Chhattisgarh as well because of the disproportionate number of deaths there, the statement said.
For sustainable COVID-19 management, awareness of the community and its involvement is paramount, Modi said, adding that and there is a need to continue ‘Jan Bhagidari’ and ‘Jan Andolan’.
A special campaign for COVID-appropriate behaviour with emphasis on 100 percent mask usage, personal hygiene and sanitation at public places, workplaces, and health facilities will be organised between April 6-14, the statement said.
In the meeting, the prime minister highlighted the need to enforce the COVID-appropriate behaviour in the coming days and ensure the availability of beds, testing facilities and timely hospitalisation.
He also called for avoiding mortality under all circumstances by ramping up healthcare infrastructure, availability of oxygen, ventilators besides required logistics, and ensuring that clinical management protocols are followed across all hospitals as well as for those in-home care, the statement said.
He especially highlighted the need to ensure effective implementation of containment measures besides the involvement of community volunteers in active case search and management of containment zones.
He exhorted that all states need to take required stringent measures with comprehensive restrictions in places witnessing high surge to curb the spread, it added.
It was noted in the meeting that the exact contribution of mutant strains to the escalation of cases in some states remains speculative and the measures to control the pandemic remain the same, and hence the implementation of various protocols for COVID-19 management is all the more critical in those areas.
Modi asked officials to continue with the mission-mode approach in states and districts reporting high cases so that the collective gains of COVID-19 management in the country in the last 15 months are not squandered.
In the meeting, a brief presentation on the performance of the COVID-19 inoculation drive was also made, and the details of the coverage of vaccination in various groups, performance with respect to other countries and analysis of states’ performance were deliberated.
It was suggested that a daily analysis of performance should be shared with states and UTs as feedback for corrective actions, the statement said.
The meeting discussed the research and development of vaccines, along with the production capacity of existing manufacturers and the vaccines that are under trial.
“It was highlighted that all efforts are underway to secure adequate quantities of vaccines to meet the rising domestic requirements as well as to meet the genuine needs of other countries in the spirit of Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam’,” it said.
The principal secretary to the prime minister, cabinet secretary, home secretary, chairperson (Empowered group on Vaccine Administration) and health secretary besides other senior officials attended the meeting.