Warning of another possible nationwide COVID-19 outbreak, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday urged the States and the Union Territories to work towards stopping the emerging “second peak” of infections immediately, and stressed the need for quick and decisive steps.
“The confidence which came from our achievements in the battle against coronavirus should not turn into negligence. While the general public should not be allowed to go into a panic mode, we can incorporate our past experiences in our efforts against the spread of the virus,” he said in a videoconference with the Chief Ministers on the COVID-19 situation.
Mr. Modi reiterated that the States and the Union Territories should follow up on sending samples for genome testing to track virus variants of concern. “All States and Union Territories have been tagged to 10 national labs under the INSACOG consortium with the National Centre for Disease Control as the nodal institute. The standard operating procedures issued by the Health Ministry for surveillance of international travellers and their contacts must be implemented rigorously,” he said.
He stressed the need to be serious about “test, track and treat”, and said it was important to track every infected person’s contacts in the shortest time and keep the RT-PCR test rate in the country above 70%.
Mr. Modi cautioned against wastage of vaccines, and asked the Chief Ministers to monitor the doses daily. “The States should work towards zero wastage of vaccines with a set target. There is a need to create more sessions to vaccinate more healthcare and frontline workers,” he said.
The PM said over 96% of patients in India had recovered, and the country was currently reporting one of the lowest fatality rates in the world. He, however, expressed concern over the high positivity rate in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and the rising number of cases in Punjab and Maharashtra. “Seventy districts witnessed a 150% rise in the past few weeks,” he noted.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and senior officials attended the review meeting. Mr. Shah listed out the districts which were seeing a rise in cases.
The Prime Minister noted that there was an urgent need to maintain COVID-appropriate behaviour.
Mr. Modi emphasised the need for provision of micro-containment zones. He called for special attention to the referral system and ambulance network in small cities. He said: “The whole country has opened up for travel and the number of people travelling has also increased. There has to be a robust mechanism for sharing information among States/Union Territories.”