PM Narendra Modi chairs a meeting to review the COVID-19 situation in the country, through video conference in New Delhi on Sunday. (ANI)
NEW DELHI :
1,59,632 new COVID cases reported; 552 new Omicron cases PM calls for adequate health infrastructure, boosting vaccination drive for adolescents
REVIEWING the COVID situation amid a surge in cases fuelled by the Omicron variant of the virus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called for ensuring adequate health infrastructure at district level and accelerating the vaccination drive for adolescents in mission mode. The meeting was held virtually. India logged 552 new cases of Omicron, taking the total tally of such infections to 3,623 across 27 States and UTs so far, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday. Out of the total Omicron cases, 1,409 people have migrated or recovered. A total of 1,59,632 new coronavirus infections were reported in a day, the highest in 224 days.
Noting that the coronavirus has been evolving continuously, Prime Minister Modi underlined the need for continuous scientific research in testing and vaccines besides pharmacological interventions, including genome sequencing, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement. Highlighting the need to ensure effective usage of masks and physical distancing measures as a new normal to control the spread of COVID, Modi called for effective implementation of home isolation for mild and asymptomatic cases and to disseminate the factual information to the community at large. He said a meeting with Chief Ministers be convened to discuss State-specific scenarios, best-practices and public health response, the PMO added. Conveying gratitude for the relentless services provided by healthcare workers in managing the pandemic, he said ensuring precaution dose for them and other frontline workers should be taken up in mission mode, it said.
A presentation was made in the meet to highlight India’s consistent efforts towards the vaccination campaign, with 31 per cent adolescents aged 15-18 years having been administered with the first dose so far within seven days of the start of the drive. After a detailed discussion, Modi directed officials that intensive containment and active surveillance should continue in clusters reporting higher cases and required technical support be provided to States reporting higher cases. Modi tweeted after the meeting, “Had extensive discussions on the prevailing COVID-19 situation. Reviewed the preparedness of healthcare infrastructure, the vaccination drive, including for youngsters between 15 and 18, and ensuring continuation on non-COVID healthcare services.” The Prime Minister also said that non-COVID health services should be ensured while managing COVID cases presently and suggested leveraging telemedicine to offer health related guidance to people in remote and rural areas, the PMO said.
The high-level meeting, which was attended by the home and Health Ministers besides top bureaucrats, assessed the current pandemic situation in the country, ongoing preparedness of health infrastructure and logistics, status of the vaccination campaign and public health implications of the Omicron variant. A detailed presentation highlighting the surge in cases currently being reported globally was made by the health secretary, the PMO said, and it was followed by the COVID situation status in various States and districts of concern, based on the surge in cases and high positivity being reported. Efforts taken by the Central Government so far in terms of supporting States to manage the emerging challenge were highlighted, and various predictive scenarios of peak cases were also presented, the PMO said. The support given to States to upgrade health infrastructure, testing capacity, availability of oxygen and ICU beds, and buffer stock of COVID essential drugs under Emergency COVID Response Package (ECRP-II) was also noted.