Indian PM Modi cautions against complacency in fight against COVID-19

World Friday 23/December/2022 07:14 AM
Indian PM Modi cautions against complacency in fight against COVID-19

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting on Thursday to assess the COVID-19 situation in the country and cautioned against complacency while laying stress on testing and strengthening the surveillance measures, specially at international airports.

He emphasised COVID-appropriate behaviour at all times, especially in view of the upcoming festive season, including wearing masks in crowded public places. Amid concerns due to rise in cases in some countries, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya briefed Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha about the measures being taken by the government to meet the possible challenges.

He said the government has started random RT-PCR sampling among the passengers arriving at International airports in the country amid the recent surge of Coronavirus infection in countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, France, and the United States.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankar and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla also referred to the COVID-19 situation in some countries and urged members to wear masks. The BF.7 Omicron variant is driving cases in China.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal chaired a high-level review meeting on Thursday to assess the COVID situation and take stock of the government's preparedness.

The Prime Minister assessed preparedness of health infrastructure and emergence of new variants and their public health implications.

Advising strict vigil, he said COVID is not over yet and directed officials to strengthen the ongoing surveillance measures, especially at the international airports.

Apart from preparedness of health infrastructure and logistics, the Prime Minister also assessed the status of the vaccination campaign in the country.

A comprehensive presentation was made regarding the global Covid-19 situation including the rising cases in countries by Secretary, Health and Member, NITI Aayog.

The Prime Minister was briefed that India has been witnessing a steady decline in cases with average daily cases falling to 153 and weekly positivity down to 0.14 per cent in the week ending December 22, 2022.
However, 5.9 lakh daily average cases have been reported globally since the last six weeks.

"PM cautioned against complacency and advised strict vigil. He reiterated that COVID is not over yet and directed officials to strengthen the ongoing surveillance measures, especially at international airports," a PMO release said.

The Prime Minister stressed the need to ensure that the entire COVID infrastructure at all levels is maintained at a high level of preparedness in terms of equipment, processes and human resources.

He advised States to audit COVID-specific facilities to ensure the operational readiness of hospital infrastructure, including oxygen cylinders, PSA plants, ventilators and human resources.

PM Modi directed officials to ramp up testing and also genomic sequencing efforts. States have been asked to share a larger number of samples with the designated INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories (lGSLs) for genome sequencing on a daily basis.

This will support timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country and facilitate undertaking requisite public health measures, the release said.

The Prime Minister urged everyone to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour at all times, especially in view of the upcoming festive season, including wearing masks in crowded public places.

PM Modi also urged that precautionary dose may be encouraged especially for vulnerable and elderly groups.
The Prime Minister was informed that there is adequate availability with regard to medicines, vaccines and hospital beds.

He advised that availability and prices of essential medicines should be regularly monitored.

Highlighting the globally-appreciated work of the frontline healthcare workers, Prime Minister exhorted them to continue working in the same selfless and dedicated manner.

The meeting was attended among others by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar and Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that India is keeping an eye on the Covid situation in China.
"We are keeping an eye on the Covid situation in China. We have always helped other countries as the pharmacy of the world," said MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi during a weekly press briefing.
Mandaviya told the Parliament that the government is committed to tackling the pandemic.

"We have also started the random RT-PCR sampling among passengers arriving at International airports in the country. We are committed to tackling the pandemic and are taking appropriate steps," he said, while advising the States to make sure that people wear masks, use sanitizers and maintain social distancing even during the festive and the New Year season.

"We are keeping an eye on the global Covid situation and are taking steps accordingly. The States are advised to increase genome-sequencing to timely identify the new variant of Covid-19," Mandaviya added.

He said 220 crore COVID vaccine shots have been given. "From the last few days, Covid cases have been rising in the world but in India, the cases are depleting. We are seeing rising Covid cases and deaths due to it in China," he said.

Ministry of Civil Aviation has decided to ensure that two per cent of the total passengers in a flight undergo COVID-19 tests at the airport on arrival.

"Such passengers to be identified by the airline will be allowed to leave the airport after giving the sample. Samples testing positive will be sent for genome sequencing," the Civil Aviation Ministry said in a statement.
Apart from Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Punjab also held a COVID review meeting.

Karnataka Government, after a meeting on Thursday, said it has decided to make face masks mandatory in closed spaces, even those that are not air-conditioned.

"An advisory will be issued making masks mandatory at indoor, closed and air-conditioned places. Union government guidelines will be followed for random testing and screening passengers arriving from abroad at international airports," Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar said.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath reviewed the COVID situation in the state.

Kerala Health Minister Veena George said that a general alert has been issued in the state due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in some countries.

She said there is no cause for concern in the state and urged people to be cautious and take precautionary measures. Districts have been asked to increase surveillance, she said.

Kejriwal said there is not a single case of BF.7 variant in Delhi at present, but AAP Government fully prepared to deal with any possible situation.

"The new prevalent variant of Corona in China is BF.7, no case of BF.7 variant has been found in testing so far in Delhi. If the need arises, we can test up to one lakh people daily. Right now we have 8,000 beds allotted for corona virus. In the previous peak there were 25000 beds, now we have prepared for 36000 beds," he said.

"At present we have 6,000 reserve oxygen cylinders and 15 oxygen tankers as well as a capacity to store 928 metric tonnes of oxygen. In Delhi, almost 100 percent people have got the first and second dose, but only 24 percent people have got their precaution dose," he added.

Kejriwal urged people of Delhi to get their precaution dose administered at the earliest.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) issued an advisory and appealed the public to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour with immediate effect.

In its advisory, the IMA listed out necessary steps including wearing face masks in all public places, maintaining social distancing and washing hands regularly with soap and water or sanitizers.