PM Modi reviews Covid-related situation in country at high-level meeting

By :  sanjay kaw
Update: 2022-12-22 11:45 GMT
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives for the party's National Office Bearers Meeting, at BJP HQ in New Delhi, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. (Photo: PTI)

NEW DELHI: Amid a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in China and some other countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday cautioned people against complacency and urged them to wear masks in crowded places, while also directing officials to strengthen surveillance, especially at international airports.

At a high-level meeting, Modi reiterated that "Covid is not over yet" and advised states to audit Covid-specific facilities to ensure operational readiness of hospital infrastructure, including oxygen cylinders, PSA pressure swing adsorption) plants to generate medical grade oxygen, ventilators, and human resources.

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

The Prime Minister stressed that precaution dose should be encouraged, especially for vulnerable and elderly groups. He emphasised on regular monitoring of prices and availability of essential medicines. He was informed that there is adequate availability of medicines, vaccines, and hospital beds.

Among those present in the meeting were home minister Amit Shah, health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar, I&B minister Anurag Thakur, principal secretary to the Prime Minister P.K. Mishra, NITI Aayog CEO Parameswaran Iyer, NITI Aayog member V.K. Paul, Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba, PMO advisor Amit Khare, home secretary A.K. Bhalla and health secretary Rajesh Bhushan.

During the meeting, Modi directed officials to ramp up testing and genomic sequencing. He asked the states to share a larger number of samples with the designated INSACOG genome sequencing laboratories for genome sequencing daily. This, he said, would support the timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country, and facilitate undertaking the requisite public health measures.

A comprehensive presentation was made at the meeting regarding the global Covid situation. The PM 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. Globally, 5.9-lakh daily average cases have been reported since the last six weeks.

Ahead of the meeting, Mandaviya, in a statement in Lok Sabha, asked states to remain alert. He advised them to focus on heightened surveillance within the community, undertake the requisite control and containment measures, and increase the whole genome sequencing of all positive cases for the timely detection of newer variants, if any.

The minister assured the Upper House that all the oxygen plants were running and that a review had been done about the availability of medicines. "We are prepared and ready to provide the required medicines and vaccines in the country," he said.

Mandaviya informed that an expert committee has given approval to nasal vaccine to combat the virus, doing away with the requirement of jabs. "We are fully prepared to fight the virus," he asserted.

Late in the evening, the health ministry asked the civil aviation ministry to ensure random Covid testing of two per cent of passengers arriving in international flights from December 24 to minimise the risk of ingress of the new variant of the virus  in the country. Children under 12 years of age have, however, been exempted from post arrival random testing.


The health ministry said all passengers must undergo thermal screening, and those with Covid-19 symptoms should be isolated as per standard protocol and immediately moved to an isolation facility for treatment. It said that all travellers should preferably be fully vaccinated as per the approved primary schedule of vaccination against Covid-19 in their country.

Several states and UTs are also getting ready to prevent any spread of the deadly virus. The Odisha government has asked the district administrations to strengthen surveillance and take measures for whole genome sequencing of Covid-positive samples after Omicron subvariant BF.7 was detected in the state.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami asked the state health department to launch a drive to administer booster doses to the beneficiaries for effectively controlling the pandemic. He asked the officials to start organising camps to administer booster doses to people from Friday.

In Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the new Omicron sub-variant BF.7 has not been detected in the national capital so far. He added that his government is fully geared up to tackle any eventuality.

At the moment, 2,500 tests are being conducted, and these can be increased to one lakh if there is a surge in Covid cases. Kejriwal said: "We have 8,000 beds ready for Covid patients. At the time of its peak, we had readied 25,000 beds but the bed capacity can be increased to 36,000."

The Punjab health department has asked the concerned officials to step up the number of daily Covid testing to 10,000 in the state.

Haryana health minister Anil Vij said there was no need to panic but asked people to voluntarily follow precautionary measures like wearing masks in crowded places and using hand sanitizer.

He said if any specific guidelines or directions pertaining to Covid-19 come from the Centre, they will be fully implemented in the state.

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai called an emergency meeting of Covid technical advisory committee with experts and officials to analyse the Covid situation and determine precautionary measures to be taken in the state. He appealed for public cooperation in implementing the preventive measures that the government will prescribe and also called on them to take the booster dose of vaccine.


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