New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised on Wednesday (March 22) that COVID-19 is “far from over” as he chaired a high-level meeting and called for maintaining vigil and precaution amid a spike in influenza and coronavirus cases in the country in the past two weeks. He stressed on the need to enhance genome sequencing and keeping Covid-appropriate behaviour, an official statement said. India has recorded 1,134 new coronavirus cases, while the active cases increased to 7,026, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday. The death toll climbed to 5,30,813 with five deaths. One death each has been reported in Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat and Maharashtra while one fatality was reconciled by Kerala, the data updated at 8 am stated.
PM Modi chaired the meeting to assess the COVID-19 and influenza situation in the country in terms of preparedness of health infrastructure and logistics, status of the vaccination campaign, emergence of new COVID-19 variants and influenza types and their public health implications for the country.
He directed effective monitoring of IRI/SARI (Severe Acute Respiratory Illness) cases, and that testing for Influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and adenovirus be followed up with states.
The PMO said he also emphasised on the the need to ensure availability of required drugs and logistics for influenza and Covid across health facilities along with availability of sufficient beds and health human resources.
Incidentally, it was the third anniversary of ‘Janata Curfew’ on Wednesday, which the prime minister had announced in 2020 for a day, urging people to stay indoors following the pandemic outbreak. It was later followed by nationwide lockdown as the cases began rising.
This high-level review meeting came in the backdrop of a spike in influenza cases in the country and rise of Covid cases in the past two weeks.
During the meeting, a comprehensive presentation was made covering the global Covid situation including the rising cases in India by Secretary, Health, Rajesh Bhushan.
The prime minister was briefed that India has been witnessing a slight rise in new cases with average daily cases reported as 888 and weekly positivity reported as 0.98 per cent in the week ending March 22. However, 1.08 lakh daily average cases have been reported globally during the same week.
The action taken on the directions given by PM Modi during the last Covid review held on December 22, 2022 was also briefed, the statement said.
He was informed that availability and prices of 20 main Covid drugs, 12 other drugs, eight buffer drugs and one influenza drug is being monitored.
A mock drill was also conducted on December 27, 2022 in 22,000 hospitals, and many remedial measures taken by hospitals thereafter.
The prime minister was apprised on the influenza situation in the country particularly with respect to higher number of cases of H1N1 and H3N2 being noted in last few months.
PM Modi directed officials to enhance whole genome sequencing of positive samples with the designated INSACOG genome sequencing laboratories. This will support tracking of newer variants, if any, and timely response, the PMO said.
The prime minister emphasized Covid-appropriate behaviour including wearing of masks in hospital premises by both patients, health professionals and health workers. He also stressed that wearing of masks is advisable when senior citizens and those with co-morbidities visit crowded areas, the statement said.
PM Modi highlighted that Covid-19 pandemic is far from over and there is a need to monitor the status across the country on regular basis.
He said the focus on five-fold strategy of test-track-treat-vaccination & Covid-appropriate behaviour, enhanced lab surveillance and testing of all Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) cases. Mock drills should be conducted regularly to ensure that our hospitals are ready for all exigencies, he added.
He exhorted people to follow respiratory hygiene & to adhere to Covid appropriate behavior in crowded public places.
The meeting was attended by PM Modi’s principal secretary P K Mishra, V K Paul, Member (Health) NITI Aayog, and Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba among others.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.