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“Careless in Tackling Covid-19 May Lead to National Outbreak:” Cautioned Modi

“Careless in Tackling Covid-19 May Lead to National Outbreak:” Cautioned Modi

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Mar 17: The prime minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday asked the chief ministers of different states to make people strictly follow the Covid-19 protocols to avert “carelessness” that could create a national outbreak like situation.

Expressing concern over the recent spike in Corona cases in some states which he termed as “emerging second peak,” Modi said the relative success of India in dealing with the pandemic should not give way to “carelessness” and people should seriously follow the ‘Test, Track and Treat’ formula to stop this emerging “second peak” of the virus.

Modi, who was addressing the chief ministers of different states through video conferencing, said failing to stop the rising second peak of the virus might create a national outbreak-like situation and quick and decisive steps were the need of the hour.

“The number of cases is increasing in some states. This increase is more than 150 percent in 70 districts of the country. We must stop this emerging “second peak” of Corona immediately,” he said.

“The position we have reached in the fight against corona, the confidence we have now, should not become overconfidence giving way to give way to carelessness,” he added.

Modi said the states must take decisive steps including micro-containment zones, increased testing and enforcement of restrictions like masks.

“If we don’t stop this right now, then there could be a situation of a nationwide outbreak. We have to immediately stop the emerging second peak and take big and decisive steps,” Modi told the Chief Ministers.

“The self-confidence that we gained in our corona fight should not turn into overconfidence. Our success should not be the reason for carelessness,” he warned.

He stressed that initiatives needed to be taken without causing panic among people.

Speaking on the districts that had seen a surge in the past few days, the PM said it was worth considering that these were also the zones where testing and vaccination was comparatively less.

The Prime Minister called for increased RT-PCR tests for proper testing and tracking of the infection and a focus on smaller towns.

“Over 70 per cent of the tests should be RTPCR. States should not rely on Rapid Antigen Tests,” Modi said referring to Kerala, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh. “We have to be pro-active in the test, track and treat strategy application,” he stressed.

The Prime Minister noted that tier 2 and 3 towns, which had escaped the first wave, were getting affected this time round. It would not take much for the virus to spread to villages from there, which would overwhelm the health care system of the country, he said.

PM Modi also cautioned against the waste of vaccine in some states, advising them to use the shot available to them before the expiry date and avoid waste.

More than 10 per cent of vaccine doses were being wasted in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and UP, he said, adding: “This is something that must not happen and needs urgent attention.”

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, campaigning for the approaching state election, was missing. Also absent were UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath campaigning for the BJP in Assam, and Bhupesh Baghel, the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, which is one of the five worst-affected states, with the highest deaths in the last 24 hours.

Prime minister’s exchanges with the chief ministers follow India recording 28,903 fresh COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8 A.M. on Wednesday, the highest daily rise since December 11 (30,254), with the total tally at 1.14 crore cases and 1,59,044 deaths. 188 deaths have been reported, the most in a day since January 15 (191).

Maharashtra alone contributed more than 60 per cent of the total cases in the last 24 hours. The cases reported included Maharashtra (17,864), Kerala (1,970), Punjab (1,463), Karanataka (1,135) and Gujarat (954).

The average number of Covid cases is at an 81-day high, according to figures. Cases are now rising in 19 states compared to four just a month ago.

Of 19 districts in India with the highest number of coronavirus cases in the last 10 days, 16 are from Maharashtra, the Union Health Ministry has said, while only three are outside Maharashtra, Bengaluru Urban in Karnataka, Indore in Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu capital Chennai.

Meanwhile, the union health ministry has asked all states and Union Territories to step up their tracking and testing mechanism and said at least 30 close contacts of a Covid-19 infected person should be tested, isolated within 72 hours. This is nothing new, but states have been lagging in contact tracing, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Wednesday.

“Close contacts do not mean only family members. Close contacts are people with whom we are counteracting daily. They may be our office workers, our newspaper vendor, our vegetable vendor. This was done last year. But now district administrations have become lax and are only testing family members just for the sake of it. As a result, other close contacts are moving freely spreading the infection to more people,” Rajesh Bhushan said.

“We are also asking states if the number of cases is on the rise, then why the number of containment zones is not going up,” the secretary said.

Urging states to minimise reliance on antigen test and increase RT-PCR tests, the secretary said at least 70 per cent of tests should be RT-PCR, but states have even less than 40 per cent of RT-PCR share.

In his meeting with state and UT heads, Modi stressing the need for more reliance on RT-PCR tests had also pointed out that states like Kerala, Odisha and UP were largely dependent on rapid antigen tests, but it was not the ideal scenario, as the country had adequate infrastructure for RT-PCR tests.

“PM Modi’s meeting with the states has been the most significant development of the day. Emerging second peak has to be addressed with confidence. There is no need to panic. We have tools. It is time to combine all these tools and find a way out. This is what PM Modi said,” Niti Aayog (health) member VK Paul said.



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