April 20, 2023
NEW DELHI – In view of the rising number of Covid-19 cases across India, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Dr P K Mishra on Wednesday chaired a high-level meeting to assess the situation with focus on preparedness of health infrastructure, logistics, drugs, vaccination campaign and steps required to deal with the problem.
The meeting was attended by Rajiv Gauba, cabinet secretary; Dr Vinod Paul, member, Niti Aayog; T V Somanathan, finance secretary; and Rajesh Bhushan, secretary, Health and Family Welfare.
A comprehensive presentation was made by Rajesh Bhushan, providing an overview of the global Covid-19 situation. He highlighted that India has been witnessing a rapid increase in the number of Covid-19 cases with the majority of cases being reported in eight states (Kerala, Delhi, Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Rajasthan).
Further, the sudden increase in the positivity was also highlighted along with the status of tests being conducted in the country. A detailed analysis of active cases within these eight states was presented and it was highlighted that approximately 92 per cent of the cases are under home isolation.
The presentation also provided an overview of the Genome Sequencing of different variants since January 2023 and noted the proportion of circulating variants in India.
The status of vaccination was discussed, followed by drug availability and infrastructure preparedness across the country. As per directions of the Prime Minister, a nationwide mock drill for assessment of functional infrastructure was conducted and the status of Mock drill was presented to participants.
Further, the expenditure of the Covid-19 vaccination programme and budget provisions for drugs and vaccine raw materials were also reviewed.
The Health Secretary also informed that States have already been advised that they may take steps for procurement of requisite Covid vaccine doses directly from the manufacturers at their end without any prior approvals from the Union Ministry of Health. Private Hospitals situated in the States may also directly procure such Vaccines from the manufacturer. These vaccines once procured may be administered as per the existing Covid vaccination guidelines.
After the detailed presentation, Dr Mishra highlighted that for managing localized surges it is essential that sufficient health infrastructure should be available at sub-district level and the same may be ensured in consultation with States.
He exhorted that advisories for guiding states should be assessed based on evolving scenario and updated accordingly.
Further, the meeting deliberated that it is critical to focus on identification of emerging hotspots and States should monitor trends of ILI/SARI cases, send sufficient samples for testing of Covid-19, and ramp up Whole Genome Sequencing.
Dr Mishra stressed that the time-tested five-fold strategy of test-track-treat-vaccination and adherence to Covid appropriate behaviour must continue to be implemented. It was equally crucial to promote awareness within the community regarding Covid appropriate behaviour and caution citizens against complacency.
He advised officials to maintain a strict vigil on the Covid-19 situation and take necessary actions to contain its spread.