Laxity leading to COVID-19 surge, Health Ministry tells 12 States.
Almost 90% of the COVID-19 deaths in India continue to be in the category of those aged above 45. Internal surveys showed that while 90% people were aware of the importance of masks, only 44% actually wore them, a statement from the Health Ministry said on Saturday, reflecting “laxity” in adhering to strictures, such as wearing masks and avoiding crowding.
These concerns rose to the fore at a meeting chaired by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan with key officials from 12 States and Municipal Commissioners and District Collectors of 46 districts that are the most affected by rising cases and mortality. The States are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Punjab and Bihar.
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India has seen the sharpest rise in weekly COVID-19 cases and fatalities since May 2020 (7.7% and 5.1% respectively) and 46 districts contributed 71% of the cases and 69% of the deaths this month. India registered 62,258 new cases over the 24 hours to 8 a.m. on Saturday.
Maharashtra reported the highest daily new cases at 36,902. It is followed by Punjab with 3,122 while Chhattisgarh reported 2,665 new cases.
“One infected person could spread COVID-19 to an average of 406 other individuals in a 30-day window without restrictions which could be reduced to just 15 by decreasing physical exposure to 50% and to a further 2.5 (average) by decreasing physical exposure to 75%. It was also highlighted (at the meeting) that the concept of ‘second wave’ reflected more the laxity among everyone regarding ‘COVID appropriate behaviour’ and COVID containment and management strategy at the ground level,” the statement noted.
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The total vaccination coverage in India approached six crore, with India being the third largest vaccinator in the world behind the United States and China.
More than 5.81 cr (5,81,09,773) vaccine doses have been administered through 9,45,168 sessions as on Saturday. These included 80,96,687 health care workers (first dose), 51,44,011 HCWs (second dose), 87,52,566 frontline workers (first dose) and 35,39,144 FLWs (second Dose). There were 61,72,032 beneficiaries aged more than 45 years with specific co-morbidities (first Dose) and 2,64,05,333 beneficiaries aged more than 60 years.
States were advised to increase testing in all districts and increasing RT PCR tests, to more than 70% of total. Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) to be mostly deployed as a screening tool in flushing out cluster cases from densely populated areas.
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Testing leading to detection of positive cases was to be followed with prompt tracing of the close contacts and swift isolation and the Centre said an average of 30 close contacts are to be traced, tested and isolated in the first 72 hours.
States ought be imposing “heavy fines” which would send a “strong exemplary message” among the people. Coming celebrations Holi, Shab-e-baraat and Easter ought to be muted and inside the confines of the house. About 70% of cases could be controlled through COVID appropriate behaviour, States were told.
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