4 weeks critical: Centre

Wednesday, 07 April 2021 | PNS | New Delhi

India records all-time high 1.15L Covid cases in 24 hrs

Even as India’s daily tally of new cases is growing faster than most others in the list of top five countries, the Government on Tuesday painted a grim picture warning that next four weeks are very critical and people’s participation is vital to control the second wave of pandemic. In the last 24 hours, the virulent pathogen has claimed 446 lives.

Meanwhile, India on Tuesday recorded a new peak of Covid daily count at nearly 1,15,239 cases, 12,000 more than that previous highest day’s tally recorded on Sunday. Maharashtra leaped back in the 50,000 plus range again after a dip on Monday. The State clocked  55,469 cases, 34,256 recoveries, and 297 deaths in the last 24 hours. Chhattisgarh emerged as the second worst-affected State by clocking 9,921 new cases and 53 new deaths.

The Centre has rejected requests of two non-BJP ruled States’ Chief Ministers —Delhi and Maharashtra — seeking relaxation in age limit for the vaccine. The Centre on Tuesday ruled out Covid-19 vaccination for all, stressing the aim is not to administer the shot to “those who need it so as to prevent death and protect the healthcare system”.

During a Press conference here, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said many people are asking why the Government is not opening up vaccination for those above 18 years. Bhushan said even the West has conducted the vaccination drive in phases.

“The basic aim is to reduce death through vaccination. The other aim is to protect your healthcare system. If healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, paramedics and others fall sick, who will work in hospitals? So the aim, for any country, is to protect those who are the most vulnerable. The aim is never to administer the vaccine to those who want it but to those who need it,” Bhushan said.

NITI Aayog member (Health) VK Paul said the narrative has to be seen in a scientific way. He questioned, “When we talk about opening vaccination to all, our focus reduces on controlling the pandemic. Did you hear of any country that is vaccinating less than 45.”

The Centre has also asked the State Governments to ramp up RT-PCR tests after it noticed that only 60 per cent of the tests were done. India’s tally of coronavirus cases has risen to 12,686,049 while the death toll stands at 165,577.

At a Press conference here on Tuesday, NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr VK Paul said the pandemic situation in the country worsened with a sharp rise in cases and a large part of the population is still susceptible to the virus.

The tools to fight the pandemic remain the same. “Covid-appropriate behaviour, containment measures, testing have to be implemented more efficiently, medical infrastructure has to be ramped up and vaccination drive intensified,” he said.

Covid-appropriate behaviour like wearing masks, staying away from crowds have to be followed in a campaign mode, Paul reminded people. However, when asked if Kumbh Mela can be a super-spreader of Covid-19, the Niti Aayog member gave a vague reply as he said that “We hope that the SOP issued for Kumbh Mela is being followed.”

Incidentally, the Centre has deployed a three-member high-level Central team led by Dr SK Singh, Director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) with Dr SK Jain, Additional Director and Dr Meera Dhuria, Deputy Director, both from NCDC as team members to review medical care and public health arrangements for the religious congregation at Haridwar in Uttarakhand.

“The intensity of the pandemic has increased and it is spreading faster than last time. In some States, it (the condition) is worse than others but the upswing (in cases) can be observed across the country,” said Dr Paul.

“People’s participation is vital to control the second wave. The next four weeks are going to very critical. The entire country has to come together and make efforts to fight the pandemic.”

He said the number of coronavirus cases is increasing and along with that mortality is also on the rise. “Still, in terms of the population size and in terms of deaths per million we are doing well and the pandemic is in control.”

Detailing the Covid-19 situation in India, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said Chhattisgarh’s Durg is among the top 10 districts with high active Covid cases. “Among these 10 districts, seven are in Maharashtra and one in Karnataka. Delhi, counted as one district, is also on the list.”

The 10 districts with the highest number of new cases are Pune, Mumbai, Thane, Nagpur, Nashik, Bengaluru Urban, Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Delhi and Durg, he said.

Death numbers being reported in Punjab and Chhattisgarh too are cause of extreme concern. Of all the active cases in the country, 58 per cent of active cases and 34 per cent of the total deaths have been reported in Maharashtra.

The Centre has constituted 50 high-level multidisciplinary public health teams and deployed them to districts reporting a surge in cases and mortality in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Punjab, Bhushan said.

These teams were being deployed in 30 districts of Maharashtra, 11 of Chhattisgarh and nine of Punjab, said the official.

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