Stopping a third wave of COVID-19 cases is a “priority”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the chief ministers of six states during a virtual interaction on Friday, and called on them to step up efforts to follow the centre’s ‘test, track, treat and teeka (vaccinate)’ system to contain the virus.
The Prime Minister was meeting chief ministers from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, Kerala and Maharashtra – the six states with the highest daily trends at this time. These have contributed 80 per cent of new cases and 84 per cent of deaths in the past week, he said.
On Tuesday the Prime Minister met with the eight chief ministers of the northeastern states.
“To stop the third wave of COVID-19 is absolutely necessary. We have a strategy in place – ‘test, track, treat and teeka (vaccinate)’. You are all familiar with this approach and are well-versed in it. This must be a priority,” Prime Minister Modi said today.
“If the situation is not brought under control, there may be trouble ahead,” he told the state leaders, while also highlighting the need to increase testing.
“Increased RT-PCR testing is important to identify and help control the spread of the virus.”
PM Modi also referred to the Rs 23,000 crore Covid fund recently announced by the centre and said: “I urge all states to use this fund to fill gaps in healthcare infrastructure.”
In his address to the chief ministers PM Modi also highlighted the need to ensure an uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen; a lack of oxygen was one of the tragic headlines at the peak of the second wave, with people dying as hospitals frantically tried to get their tanks refilled.
“The centre has approved PSA oxygen plants for all states. These are crucial… assign a senior officer to personally oversee setup… in 15-20 days,” the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister also stressed on the need to ensure the public follows Covid-appropriate behaviour, which includes wearing face masks and maintaining social distance. This comes after shocking images surfaced from hill stations and crowded markets, where thousands gathered in violation of the rules.
Experts’ warnings (and those by the Prime Minister) also come as BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh this week said it would allow the Kanwar Yatra from July 25. The Supreme Court came today reminded the UP government that “right to life is paramount” and asking it to reconsider its decision.
This morning Kerala reported 13,773 new cases in 24 hours (the most of any state) to take its active caseload to more than 1.19 lakh.
Maharashtra – which has reported nearly 62 lakh cases so far (about twice as much as Kerala, the next on the list) – has over 1.10 lakh active cases, to which it added 8,010 in the past 24 hours.
The Prime Minister said the situation in these states is a matter of grave concern.
On Monday a study by Chennai scientists said a steady increase in the ‘R’ factor, reproduction rate, of the coronavirus in Maharashtra and Kerala was a worrying sign.
The latest data suggests the ‘R’ value in Maharashtra is currently close to 1.0 and in Kerala it is just below. The national ‘R’ value was a dangerous .95 this morning.
Between them the other four states added 9,018 new cases in the past 24 hours.
Overall, these six states contributed 30,801 of India’s 38,949 new cases in 24 hours.