Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Saturday chaired a high-level review meeting with 12 states and UTs' additional chief secretaries, principal secretaries and secretaries, municipal commissioners and district collectors of most affected districts amid rising cases and mortality because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Through a detailed presentation, the states were informed that the country has seen the sharpest rise in weekly COVID cases and fatalities since May 2020 (7.7 per cent and 5.1 per cent, respectively).
The 12 states are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Punjab and Bihar. Granular analysis of affected districts in these states and UTs along with some key statistics was presented.
Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, was also present during the review meeting. The focus of the meeting was on 46 districts that have contributed 71 per cent of the cases and 69 per cent of deaths in March 2021.
Of the total 36 districts in Maharashtra, 25 account for 59.8 per cent of cases reported in India during the past week.
Almost 90 per cent of the coronavirus deaths continue to be in the category of those aged above 45 years. Findings of studies also depicted that while 90 per cent of people are aware, only 44 per cent wear face masks.
One infected person could spread COVID-19 to an average of 406 individuals in a 30-day window without restrictions. This could be reduced to just 15 by decreasing physical exposure to 50 per cent and a further 2.5 (average) by decreasing physical exposure to 75 per cent.
Hence, stringent action, which includes effective containment and contact tracing for at least 14 successive days in the 46 districts, was strongly recommended for breaking the chain of transmission.
A five-fold strategy was also laid out for adoption by the States and UTs for effective containment and management of the COVID pandemic.
This five-fold strategy includes:
States were asked to focus on universalisation of vaccination in the specified priority age groups as an aid to containment strategy in areas where maximum cases are being reported.
It was also reiterated that there is no shortage of vaccines. States must optimally utilise all vaccination capacities within the public and private sectors in all districts without keeping a buffer stock in anticipation of a shortage.
States were also asked to plan logistics and infrastructure management in 1-1.5 months advance as any unchecked spread of community infection may overwhelm the local administration.
(With inputs from agencies)
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