Amid rising global concerns over a new Covid variant detected in South Africa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today chaired a high-level meeting for a comprehensive review of the public health preparedness and vaccination-related situation in the country.
At the two-hour meeting, Modi was briefed about the global trends on Covid-19 infections and cases. Officials highlighted that countries across the world have experienced multiple Covid surges since the onset of the pandemic. The PM also reviewed the national situation relating to Covid-19 cases and test positivity rates.
Modi was apprised of the progress in vaccination and the efforts being made under the ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ campaign. He directed that there was a need to increase the second dose coverage and that states need to be sensitised on the need to ensure that all those who have got the first dose were given the second dose timely.
The PM was also given details about the seropositivity in the country from time to time and its implications in public health response.
Officials briefed him on the new variant of concern ‘Omicron’ along with its characteristics and the impact seen in various countries. Its implications for India were also discussed, a statement issued by the PMO said.
Modi spoke about the need to be proactive in light of the new variant. He said that in light of the new threat, people need to be more cautious and the need to take proper precautions like masking and social distancing.
He highlighted the need for monitoring all international arrivals, their testing as per guidelines, with a specific focus on countries identified ‘at risk’. He also asked officials to review plans for easing of international travel restrictions in light of the emerging new evidence.
PM was given an overview of the sequencing efforts in the country and the variants circulating in the country. He directed that genome sequencing samples be collected from international travellers and the community as per norms, tested through the network of labs already established under INSACOG and early warning signals identified for Covid management. He spoke about the need to increase the sequencing efforts and make it more broad-based.
He also directed officials to work closely with state governments to ensure that there was proper awareness at the state and district level. He directed that intensive containment and active surveillance should continue in clusters reporting higher cases and required technical support be provided to states which were reporting higher cases presently.
The PM also asked that awareness needs to be created about ventilation and the air-borne behaviour of the virus.
Officials briefed the PM on how they were following a facilitative approach to newer pharmaceutical products. Modi instructed officials to coordinate with states to ensure that there was adequate buffer stock of various medicines. He asked officials to work with the states to review the functioning of medical infrastructure including pediatric facilities.
The PM asked officials to coordinate with states to ensure the proper functioning of PSA oxygen plants and ventilators.
The meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Member (Health) of NITI Aayog V K Paul, Home Secretary A K Bhalla and Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, among others.