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COVID-19 surge: Offer clarity in terms of SOPs and resources in rural areas, says PM Modi

In videoconference addressing District Magistrates from 54 districts across 10 States, he said mutations had raised concerns for youth and children.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that empathy and resoluteness in the face of COVID-19 was essential while also flagging that mutations of the coronavirus had raised concerns for youth and children going ahead.

Addressing a videoconference of District Magistrates from 54 districts across 10 States with Chief Ministers of those present, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Mr. Modi added that intensive presence of the administration and empathetic dialogue with people in rural areas would go a long way in addressing the spread of the disease in those areas.

“My experience of rural areas is that they need clear information about Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), if informed correctly of SOPs they follow it religiously. Clarity is required with regard to rural population, they are disciplined in carrying forward what is required and this presence and clarity of the administration will boost the courage in these areas to face this situation. Make a team, hold a dialogue, offer clarity in terms of SOPs and resources. The second wave mutations have raised alarm bells for youth and children too. We need to prepare for what lies ahead. The first thing to do is to prepare data on contagion rates among young people and children. Analyse it, this will help you in planning for the future,” he said.

Extensive records

He added that field experiences were invaluable in coming up with practical and dynamic policy interventions. Both in the case of dealing with the pandemic and for vaccination campaigns, the Prime Minister said that extensive records should be maintained that would give direction to where the policy should be tweaked and what went right or wrong. “This pandemic has occurred after a gap of 100 years, you are facing situations that no one has faced in a century, you need to keep extensive records, so that future generations may know what happened and how it was dealt with. The records for the previous pandemic were not extensive, and we must not repeat that,” he said.

He added that while it “is true that active cases may be coming down”, but in the last one and a half years the experience had been that even if the case infectivity was minor the danger of going up exists. “Masking and distancing should be emphasised. Government bodies, people’s representatives, civil society groups, a collective responsibility needs to be fostered,” he said.

Vaccination calendar

“Vaccination calendar should be publicised via media platforms to reduce problems. Every pandemic has taught us, innovation and upgradation is key to dealing with them. The virus mutates – it is ‘bahurupia’ [deceptive] and ‘dhoort’ [malevolent],” he said.

Mr. Modi laid special emphasis on reducing vaccine wastage. “Wasting even one shot is to deprive one person of the shield it provides. When you review the figures in your districts, that should also be an area of focus. Tier 2 and 3 cities especially should analyse this,” he said.

The meeting with District Collectors was the second part of a similar interaction with district officials held on Tuesday, with 46 DMs from eight States. Officials from Niti Aayog and Health Ministry were also present at the meeting.

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