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PM holds Covid meeting amid renewed concerns, says ‘pandemic far from over’

Amid rising Covid cases in the country, Prime Minister on Wednesday directed officials to conduct regular mock drills at hospitals, enhance whole genome sequencing in positive samples, and ensure Covid-appropriate behaviour.

He stressed the pandemic was far from over and there was a need to monitor the status across the country on a regular basis. It was the first Covid-related meeting held by the PM this year.

The high-level meeting, chaired by the PM, came against the backdrop of a spike in influenza as well as Covid-19 cases in the past two weeks.

Covid-19 cases have risen to their highest level in around four months. From fewer than 200 across India at the end of February, India reported 1,134 cases on March 21. The daily positivity rate has crossed 1 per cent. India’s active caseload currently stands at 7,026.

According to the government data, India has been witnessing a rise in new cases with a daily average of 888 and saw a weekly positivity rate of 0.98 per cent for the week ended March 22.

Modi emphasised Covid-appropriate behaviour, including wearing masks on hospital premises by all concerned — patients, health professionals, and health workers. He also said wearing masks was advisable when senior citizens and those with co-morbidities visited crowded areas.

He asked officials to ensure necessary drugs, beds, logistics, and human resources were available in health facilities.

The government is monitoring the availability and prices of 20 main Covid drugs, 12 other drugs, eight buffer medicines, and one influenza drug.

The meeting was attended by P K Mishra, principal secretary to the PM; V K Paul, member (health), NITI Aayog; Rajiv Gauba, Cabinet secretary; Amit Khare, advisor, PMO, along with officials from the health ministry, the Indian Council for Medical Research, among others.

“(The) Prime Minister advised to continue focusing on the five-fold strategy of Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination & Covid Appropriate Behaviour, enhance Lab Surveillance & testing of all Severe Acute Respiratory Illness,” a press statement said.

The Centre had written to six states — Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Telangana — last week, warning them of a rise in Covid-19 positivity rates, which ranged between 1.1 per cent and 2.8 per cent.

The previous Covid review meeting was taken by the PM on December 22 last year. After that mock drills were conducted in 22,000 hospitals.

India is witnessing a surge in H3N2 virus cases, a respiratory tract infection caused by four distinct types of viruses (A, B, C, and D) belonging to the Orthomyxoviridae family. H3N2 has been the dominant subtype, followed by H1N1.

Warning signs

1,134: New cases recorded in the country on March 21

7,026: Total active caseload

1.09%: Daily positivity rate

Source: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

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