The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday said that the coronavirus situation in the country is going ‘from bad to worse’ and it is a huge cause of worry.
“Trends show the virus is still very active and enter our defences, just when we think we can control it, it sparks back,” said VK Paul, Chairman of National Expert Committee on Vaccine Administration at the briefing by the health ministry amidst the surge in Covid-19 cases.
He, however, denied that the surge in the Covid-19 cases is due to the mutated strains. He said that the states have been asked to strictly enforce Covid-appropriate behaviour and stressed the use of masks.
“Use the law, use fine as an option. People need to wear a mask,” he said.
While discussing the situation in various states, VK Paul said that Punjab is neither doing ‘an adequate number of tests nor is isolating infected people properly’ and that Karnataka also needs to improve testing and isolation.
He said, “Punjab is neither doing adequate number of tests nor is isolating infected people properly. Maharashtra has 3.37 lakh active cases. Death has increased from 32 in Feb to 118 now. Karnataka needs to improve testing and isolation.”
Delhi has been taken as one district and it is among the top 10 Covid-19 high burden districts. Eight of these districts are from Maharashtra he added.
NITI Aayog’s Member (Health) VK Paul emphasised contact tracing, quarantining, isolation. He said, “We have taken pride that fatality has been low. But the death rate is now at four times — at 271 from 73. The virus needs to be eliminated.”
“We want to emphasize that without contact tracing, quarantining, isolation etc. we cannot contain the virus,” he added.
He denied that there is an Indian variant of the virus and said that the ‘virus shift drift and shift’. He said, “There is a concept of virus shift drift and shift. There is no such thing as an Indian strain. It is not a cause to panic.”
The ministry, in the briefing, said that 855 patients in India have been found to be affected with the UK, South African and Brazilian mutant variants of coronavirus in which 807 Covid-19 cases are of UK variant, 47 of the South African and one with the Brazilian variant. A total of 11,064 samples were subjected to genome sequencing.
The government has told that there should be saturation of vaccination for priority age groups in districts that are reporting surge in cases.
As of March 30, 6.11 lakh vaccine doses have been administered.
India recorded 56,211 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours taking the total tally to 1,20,95,855 on Tuesday. Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat continue to report a surge in daily new cases.
NITI Aayog’s Member Paul cautioned about the situation and said that if cases surge it will ‘overwhelm the system.’ He said, “We are facing an increasingly severe intensive situation, more so in some districts but the whole country is potentially at risk. If the cases are more, they will eventually overwhelm the system. The deaths will also occur, even if they are low. If it is business as usual, we will continue to be chased by the virus.”
He assured that the country has sufficient capacities in the hospitals, ambulance services and ICU beds are functional.