On Thursday, the central government expressed its concern over the rising number of active Covid-19 cases in some states of India, especially Maharashtra, and requested people to remain “careful and watchful” and keep their guard up because “the pandemic is not yet over.”
Dr V K Paul, NITI Aayog member (Health), described the situation as “worrisome” at a press conference.
On the lockdown that has been put in place in Nagpur from March 15 to 21, he said, “We are reaching a situation where these approaches (to control the spread of COVID-19) are being brought back.” Mentioning the rise in positivity rate in Delhi and surrounding areas, he advised that people residing in these areas be wary.
“We have two lessons for us. Don’t take this virus for granted. It can come up unexpectedly,” he said.
“Secondly, if we have to remain free of this virus, it is very important that COVID-appropriate behaviour, containment strategy, readiness from the health infrastructure point of view as well as vaccination has to be brought in to fight the pandemic,” Paul affirmed.
He recommended that in areas where Covid-19 cases seem to be increasing, vaccination of those who are eligible should be done on priority.
Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General of ICMR, explained that the surge in cases in Maharashtra is a result of reduced testing, tracking and tracing along with “Covid-inappropriate behaviour and large congregations” and not due to a mutant strain of the virus.
On the positive side, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan pointed out that the number of active cases in Kerala reduced from 64,607 on February 11 to 35,715 cases now. “We need to appreciate this,” he said. In Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal too, the number of cases has come down since February.
However, in Maharashtra, the number of active cases has now crossed a lakh. “We think Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana are at a tipping point. They are yet to have a surge,” Bhushan stated.
As for the vaccination drive, the health ministry’s provisional report suggests that more than two and a half crore vaccine doses have been given as of Thursday.
On the future plans for vaccination, Paul said, “We are now focused on the relatively large group of individuals above the age of 60 as well as those aged between 45- 60 years with comorbidities We will see progress and moving forward, yes, further increase in the circle of those who are eligible will be considered.”
It was also clarified that there is no shortage of Covid-19 vaccines in any state of India as of now. The vaccine supply and consumption in all states and union territories is being monitored by the Centre on a daily basis.