Centre on Sunday indirectly told state governments that the peak of the third wave of Covid-19 pandemic in India might be as high as three to four times higher than the earlier peaks—which means the third peak might add 12 to 16 lakhs new Covid cases every day.
While asking states to ‘prepare’ themselves for a high surge in Covid-19 cases, Centre told them to re-invigorate their Covid-19 warrior teams to work at the ground level and strengthen monitoring and containment mechanisms.
“The Omicron variant being highly transmissible, a high surge in case can overwhelm the medical system,” Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya warned state governments while interacting virtually with the state Health Ministers, and top brass of state Health Ministries. He advised States to leave no stone unturned in ramping up infrastructure to manage a high surge so that India escapes unscathed from this episode of COVID-19,”
He told state governments to immediately improve the health infrastructure, particularly the ICU beds, Oxygen supply and Pediatric ICH/HDU beds. The Health Minister said that state governments have just used 17 per cent of the available approved funds under Emergency COVID Response Package (ECRP-II) and urged them to use the ECRP-II fund to expedite the physical progress in terms of ICU beds, Oxygen beds, Pediatric ICU/HDU beds.
The meeting was held in view of the rising cases of the Omicron variant and the recent decisions to roll-out vaccination for the age group 15-18 years and precautionary dose for identified vulnerable categories.
Referring to the global experience on the third wave of Omicron spread, the Union Health Minister told states that countries have been experiencing 3-4 times the surge in Covid-19 cases in comparison to their earlier peaks. If India experiences the same trend, the third wave peak could add 14 to 16 lakhs cases considering the fact that during the second wave India added four lakh cases a day in the first week of May 2020.
“We have put up a strong fight against Covid earlier and this learning must be used to re-focus on efforts against the Omicron variant.” He said while stressing on the continued need to follow COVID Appropriate Behaviour along with renewed and stringent focus on containment measures for addressing the present surge.
Underscoring the critical importance of vaccination drive, the Minister observed, “We must focus on planning with regard to the 15-18 age group vaccination and precautionary doses for eligible beneficiaries”. Mandaviya also urged states to ensure that the healthcare workers and frontline workers are fully vaccinated, as they form the vulnerable categories.
While appreciating the efforts of States/UTs in achieving the national average of 90 per cent coverage of first dose vaccination of all eligible adults, he urged those states, whose progress of vaccination is below the national average, to ramp up their vaccination campaign.
He told states to prepare a weekly plan to catch up and exceed the average national vaccination coverage and review the implementation of this plan on a daily basis at the level of Secretary/ACS Health with special emphasis in five poll-bound states of Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Manipur.
Further stressing on the need to ensure smooth implementation of new vaccination guidelines, he told states to ensure the orientation of vaccinators and vaccination team members for vaccination of 15-18 years age-group. He asked states to avoid the mixing-up of vaccines during administration and make separate CVCs, separate session sites, separate queue and separate vaccination team for 15-18 years age-group.