Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asked officials to assess plans to ease international travel restrictions in wake of rising global concerns over the new COVID-19 strain Omicron. PM Modi chaired a meeting with top officials to review the public health preparedness and vaccination pertaining to the COVID-19 situation.
The meeting was attended by Rajiv Gauba, Cabinet Secretary, Dr V.K.Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, A.K.Bhalla, Home Secretary, and other senior officials.
"PM was briefed about the global trends on Covid-19 infections and cases. Officials highlighted that countries across the world have experienced multiple COVID-19 surges since the onset of the pandemic. PM also reviewed the national situation relating to Covid-19 cases and test positivity rates," The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement.
PM Modi was apprised of the progress in vaccination and the efforts being made under the 'Har Ghar Dastak' campaign.
He also directed that there is a need to increase the second dose coverage and that states need to be sensitised on the need to ensure that all those who have got the first dose are given the second dose timely.
"PM was also given details about the sero-positivity in the country from time to time and its implications in public health response," PMO further stated.
It added that the officials briefed the prime minister about Omicron along with its characteristics and the impact seen in various countries. The new variant's implications for India were also discussed.
PM Modi also spoke about the need to be proactive in light of the new variant. He added that in light of the new threat, people need to be more cautious and the need to take proper precautions like masking and social distancing.
He highlighted the need for monitoring all international arrivals, their testing as per guidelines, with a specific focus on countries identified 'at risk'. PM Modi also asked officials to review plans for easing of international travel restrictions in light of the emerging new evidence.
"PM was given an overview of the sequencing efforts in the country and the variants circulating in the country. PM directed that genome sequencing samples be collected from international travellers and community as per norms, tested through the network of labs already established under INSACOG and early warning signal identified for Covid-19 management," the statement read further.
PM Modi spoke about the need to increase the sequencing efforts and make it more broad-based and also directed officials to work closely with state governments to ensure that there is proper awareness at the state and district level.
He directed that intensive containment and active surveillance should continue in clusters reporting higher cases and required technical support be provided to states which are reporting higher cases presently. PM Modi asked that awareness needs to be created about ventilation and the air-borne behaviour of the virus.
Officials further briefed the prime minister that they are following a facilitative approach to newer pharmaceutical products. PM Modi instructed officials to coordinate with states to ensure that there is adequate buffer stocks of various medicines. He asked them to work with the states to review the functioning of medical infrastructure including pediatric facilities.
PM Modi asked officials to coordinate with states to ensure proper functioning of PSA oxygen plants & ventilators.
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