MHA says 'blatant violation' of Covid norms in hill stations, markets; asks states to take action

Express News Service
NEW DELHI: Citing the rising Covid cases in many parts of the world as well as a few states in the country, the Centre on Friday raised a red flag saying that situation could get worse from here and added the next 100 days are going to be crucial.

In the latest bulletin, the World Health Organisation has said that Covid cases and deaths have increased by 10% and 3% respectively last week and 5 out of its six regions are now witnessing a surge in cases while the highly transmissible delta variant of SARS CoV 2 has reached 111 countries.

In a press briefing on the Covid situation in India on Friday by the Union Health Ministry, VK Paul who heads the national task force on coronavirus said that the world moving towards the third wave of the pandemic should be seen as a red flag, as stressed by PM Narendra Modi.

Modi had a meeting with the Chief Ministers of 6 states — Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, and Karnataka — where the cases are either rising or have plateaued at a high number.

“PM has given us the target to stall the third wave and it is possible,” Paul said, adding that while the situation is under control now, it may change for the worse if public health measures are not taken and individuals do not behave responsibly.  

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In the briefing, the authorities also highlighted that while Spain has seen a 64% hike in weekly Covid cases, Netherlands has recorded a 300% spike in Covid-19 cases.

“The situation was stable in Thailand for a long time but now it is also reporting a spike. Africa too has clocked a 50% increase in Covid-19 cases,” said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the ministry, and added that Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh too are now seeing an unprecedented spike.

Paul highlighted that a large population in India is still vulnerable.

“We have not reached herd immunity — not even through infection. not that we want to achieve herd immunity through natural infection. We are making continuous progress in vaccination,” he said.

He also underlined that at least 50% of the most vulnerable population is now vaccinated.

Meanwhile, authorities expressed concern over the minimal use of face masks adding that the face masks should now be the new normal for people

“As we have resumed activities, analysis shows a projected decline in the use of face masks. We should include the use of face masks in our daily routine as the new normal,” said Agarwal.

As per the data shared by the government, there are 47 districts in India as of now which have over 10% Covid19 test positivity rate, and 9—the highest—of these are in the northeastern state of Manipur.

There are also 73 districts in the country presently which are reporting over 100 cases every day.

He also said community mobility data shows that there has been a rise in mobility in the country in comparison to May 20 when most of the country was under lockdown.

“It is important that as we are returning towards relaxation we must keep in mind the precautions that we have to take like the use of masks, maintaining two-feet distance and hand hygiene,” he said.

Agarwal said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday also urged states where COVID-19 cases are rising to take proactive measures to prevent a third wave and stressed on moving forward with the strategy of test, track, treat and ‘tika (vaccine)’.

Agarwal said worldwide a surge in cases are being seen.

On April 29, when worldwide 9 lakh new cases were being reported now again a growth trajectory is being observed and in the whole world in the last 24 hours, 5,63,416 new cases have been reported and a surge can be seen.

“If we look at countries around us, we will see that countries like Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh have been reporting a surge in cases,” he said.

On slump in vaccination, Agarwal said the government has worked towards increasing production of vaccines, collaborated with manufacturers and the government has also given advanced visibility of next 15 days to states on what particular vaccine doses will be made available.

“The logistic management has to be linked at production and availability at field level and while we appreciate the concern of states to get more vaccine doses we must also appreciate how government of India on one side is increasing production and parallelly ensuring that 75 per cent of doses are given free of cost to states,” he said.

Paul added that there can be some issues with fine-tuning and that will be worked upon.

“Whatever the availability of vaccines in a month, it is visible and we share it systematically. It is also right that this number increases. We are hopeful that the production will take place as per the roadmap. All kinds of assistance is being provided. Be rest assured. New vaccine candidates as well as the increasing stockpile is visible. Serum (Institute of India which manufactures Covishield) has increased its production in the last few weeks. There is a roadmap, there is an optimistic scenario and we are approaching it,” he said.

On availability of moderna vaccine in the country, Paul said talks are going on.

“To and fro (talks) are going on over the contractual specifics. Discussions have not yet concluded. We are making efforts as to it happens at the earliest. We are now expecting to hear from them anytime. Currently, they have to respond to some of the points we have made and we will take it forward,” he said.

(With PTI Inputs)