Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare today chaired a high-level meeting through Video Conference to review the situation of COVID-19 and progress of vaccination in 11 States/UTs including Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan. These states have been reporting very high rise in daily cases and daily mortality because of COVID-19 in the last two weeks.
Health Ministers of States/UTs including Shri T. S. Singh Deo (Chhattisgarh), Shri Satyendar Jain (Delhi), Shri Anil Vij (Haryana), Shri Rajiv Saizal (Himachal Pradesh), Shri Banna Gupta (Jharkhand), Dr. K. Sudhakar (Karnataka), Dr. Prabhuram Choudhary (Madhya Pradesh), Shri Rajesh Tope (Maharashtra), Shri Satyendar Jain (Delhi), Shri Balbir Singh Sidhu (Punjab), Dr Raghu Sharma (Rajasthan) and Additional Chief Secretaries and Principal Secretaries (Health) of the 11 States/UTs virtually attended the event.
The Union Health Minister highlighted that these 11 States together contributed 54% of the total cases and 65% of the total deaths in the country, with a disproportionately high number of deaths in Maharashtra and Punjab. A high test positivity rate is seen in Maharashtra (25%) and Chhattisgarh (14%). Dr Harsh Vardhan noted that since February 2021, these States have witnessed a steep increase in cases, majority of which have been reported in the younger population of 15-44 years. Also, it was pointed out that majority of the deaths have been reported among the elderly of age more than 60 yrs. Dr Harsh Vardhan appreciated the increase in tests in the last four weeks but cautioned against the high RAT proportion in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. Another worrisome aspect pointed out was that the testing capacity of the private sector is underutilized in these States.
While highlighting these aspects of the 11 States, Dr. Harsh Vardhan also applauded States across the country for the collaborative work that they have put in for the collective gains till now. The Centre has been and shall continue to support the States and UTs through all possible recourses to fight the global pandemic, he assured them. He stated that while the cases were on the rise since the past few weeks, the national cumulative fatality rate (CFR) has become 1.30% now. India’s vaccination coverage has crossed 8.31 crore doses with single largest vaccination in the last 24 hours of more than 43 lakh doses administered. The total number of tests has also surpassed 25 cr today, he stated. “From one lab at NIV, Pune, we now have 2,443 diagnostic labs across the country”, he stated. Our testing capacity has escalated to 13,00,000 per day, he mentioned.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that India has also supported the global community through Vaccine Maitri, under which 6.45 Crore doses of COVID-19 Vaccine have been exported to 84 Countries. 3.58 Crore doses have been supplied to 25 countries under commercial contracts, and 1.05 Crore to 43 countries as grants, he stated.
The Union Health Minister chaired a comprehensive and detailed review of the COVID cases, vaccination status and challenges being faced by the States in management of COVID19. He highlighted that a large part of the reason for the surge in cases in almost all parts of the country, more specifically in these 11 States, was that people have adopted lax behavior towards COVID Appropriate Behaviour. He pointed out that “It seems that people have given ‘Tilanjali’ to measures and steps that can protect them from COVID such as mask wearing, avoiding gatherings and maintaining physical distancing, which I have been calling as Social Vaccine and are as important as the Vaccines that we now have.” He urged the States to take up mass awareness campaigns to re-instill the importance of measures in the masses. It is only with a Jan Andolan and Jan Bhagidari that we shall be able to overcome this phase of high rise in the cases in the country, he stated.
Dr Harsh Vardhan reminded the States Health Ministers that “The measures to prevent and contain COVID19 are not rocket science! We have successfully adopted these measures all of last year and shown the world about our success story”. The same measures have to be reinforced and implemented with more rigour and commitment by the States and the people, he pointed out. They form the fundamental pillars of our fight against COVID19, he pointed out strongly.
In order to curb the resurgence of the pandemic, Dr. Harsh Vardhan advised the States to strengthen their public and private healthcare resources. The limiting of social/public gatherings, implementation of “Test, Track, Treat” strategy with 70% RT-PCR ratio, quarantine of positive cases, contact tracing of at least 25 to 30 contacts per positive person were also stressed upon.
Speaking on the need to enhance the pace of vaccination, Dr. Harsh Vardhan assured everyone that the Centre will continually replenish the vaccine stock and exhorted the states to vaccinate the prioritized groups in a mission made. “There is no vaccine shortage in any part of the country. The Centre is providing the required quantities to all States and UTs, he stated.
The State Health Ministers shared a brief snapshot of the actions taken for containment, surveillance and treatment of the COVID positive cases along with best practices of their States.
The meeting was attended by Ms. Vandana Gurnani, Addl. Secretary and Mission Director, NHM, Ms. Arti Ahuja, Addl. Secretary (Health), Dr. Sunil Kumar, DGHS (MoHFW), Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh, Director (NCDC) and senior officials from the Health Ministry.