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PM Modi directs healthcare teams to rush to Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh amid COVID surge

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting on Sunday to review the COVID-19 situation and the vaccination programme amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

During the meeting, PM directed that central teams consisting of public health specialists and clinicians be sent to Maharashtra in view of high caseload and deaths, and likewise to Punjab and Chhattisgarh because of the disproportionate number of deaths being reported there, Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

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, it said.

PM Modi also 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.

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’.

As a part of spreading awareness about the importance of following Covid-19 protocols, a special campaign for Covid appropriate behaviour with emphasis on 100% mask usage, personal hygiene and sanitation at public places /workplaces and health facilities will be organised from 6-14 April, the PMO further stated.

He also said that 5-fold strategy of testing, tracing, treatment, COVID-appropriate behaviour, vaccination will curb pandemic if implemented with seriousness.

Vaccine R&D was discussed along with the production capacity of existing manufacturers and the capacity of vaccines under trials. Vaccine manufacturers are ramping up their production capacity and are in discussion with other domestic and offshore companies to augment the same, the statement adde.

Today’s meeting with the prime minister was attended by officials, including cabinet secretary, principal secretary to the prime minister, health secretary and NITI Aayog member Vinod Paul.

“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,” it said.

It was noted in the meeting 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 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.

It came in the backdrop of India recording 93,249 new coronavirus infections, the highest single-day rise so far this year, which took the total COVID-19 cases to 1,24,85,509, according to Union health ministry data on Sunday.

This is the biggest daily rise in cases since September 19, when 93,337 fresh infections were recorded.

The death toll climbed to 1,64,623 on Sunday with 513 new fatalities, the ministry data updated at 8 am showed.

Of these, Maharashtra has reported the highest number of daily new cases at 49,447. This is followed by Chhattisgarh with 5,818 cases while Karnataka reported 4,373 new cases, the Union health ministry data showed.

Five states, namely Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Punjab cumulatively account for 76.41% of the total active cases in the country. Maharashtra alone accounts for more than half (58.19%) of the total active caseload of the country, the Union health ministry said.

Eight states account for 85.19 per cent of the new deaths. Maharashtra saw the maximum casualties (277). Punjab follows with 49 daily deaths, the ministry said. Live Mint