Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday chaired a high-level meeting on COVID-19 situation in the country, and called for augmenting healthcare resources in rural areas to focus on door-to-door testing and surveillance. He asserted that localised coronavirus containment strategies are the need of the hour, especially in the states which have a high COVID-19 caseload in their districts.
PM Modi also stated that states should be encouraged to be transparent when it comes to COVID-19 numbers "without any pressure of high numbers showing adversely on their efforts". The remarks came amid reports that many states have been under-reporting their case and fatality tallies.
The prime minister said a distribution plan for ensuring oxygen supply in rural areas should be made, including provision of oxygen concentrators, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.
PM Modi said necessary training should be provided to health workers for operating such equipment and power supply should be ensured for smooth operation of such medical devices.
Unlike the first wave of COVID-19 cases last year when rural India was not badly hit, it has been seriously affected by the second wave in several states.
Prime Minister Modi also called for empowering ASHA and anganwadi workers with all necessary tools.
Testing needs to be scaled up further, with use of both RT-PCR and rapid tests, especially in areas with high test positivity rates, he added.
The PMO highlighted that testing has gone up rapidly in the country, from around 50 lakh tests per week in early March to around 1.3 crore tests per week now.
Modi was briefed about the gradually decreasing test positivity rate and increasing recovery rate, it said, adding that daily cases which had gone over 4 lakh per day are now coming down as a result of efforts of healthcare workers, state governments and the central government.
Officials gave a detailed presentation on the state and district level situation of COVID-19 testing, oxygen availability, healthcare infrastructure and vaccination roadmap.
The prime minister also took serious note of some reports about ventilators lying unutilised in storage in some states and directed that an immediate audit of installation and operation of ventilators provided by the central government be carried out.
He added that refresher training for properly operating ventilators should be provided to healthcare workers if necessary, the PMO said.