COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, warns PM Modi

PM Modi asks officials to increase whole genome sequencing to help identify emerging variants, at a meeting to assess the recent rise in COVID-19 and influenza cases and public health readiness

Updated - March 23, 2023 09:58 am IST

Published - March 22, 2023 05:18 pm IST - New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds a high-level review meeting on current coronavirus situation in India as COVID cases in the country rise. Videograb: Twitter/@PIBMumbai

Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds a high-level review meeting on current coronavirus situation in India as COVID cases in the country rise. Videograb: Twitter/@PIBMumbai

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cautioned on Wednesday, emphasising the need to monitor the status of the disease across the country on a regular basis.

At a high-level review meeting, Mr. Modi directed officials to increase whole genome sequencing of COVID positive samples, using the designated INSACOG laboratories, as this would support the tracking of any new and emerging variants and facilitate a timely response. INSACOG is the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium.

At the review meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, officials assessed the current COVID and influenza situation in the country, and urged that COVID-appropriate behaviour be put in place in hospitals, and also among senior citizens and those with co-morbidities when visiting crowded areas.

Spike in cases

The review comes against the backdrop of a spike in influenza cases and a rise in new COVID cases over the past two weeks. Officials at the meeting discussed preparedness in terms of health infrastructure and logistics, the status of the vaccination campaign, the emergence of new COVID-19 variants and influenza types and their public health implications for the country.

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In the week ended March 22, there have been 888 new cases reported on average every day in India, with a weekly positivity rate of 0.98%. Globally, the daily average of new cases was 1.08 lakh during the same week, according to a Central government statement.

Effective monitoring

The Prime Minister directed officials to follow up with States to ensure effective monitoring of all cases of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) and Severe Acute Respiratory Illnesses (SARI), with testing for influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and adenovirus.

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He stressed the need to ensure the availability of the required drugs and logistics for influenza and COVID-19 cases across health facilities, along with the availability of sufficient beds and health human resources. States have been advised to continue focusing on the five-fold strategy of Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and COVID-appropriate behaviour, enhance lab surveillance and testing of all SARI cases.

“Mock drills should be conducted regularly to ensure that our hospitals are ready,’’ Mr. Modi said.

The meeting’s attendees were also briefed on the actions taken on the directions given by the PM during the last COVID-19 review held on December 22, 2022.

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