UPDATED: March 17, 2021 15:21 IST
Expressing concern over the surge in Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra and Punjab, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said quick and decisive steps were needed to stop the emerging second wave of Covid-19 even as he flagged the issue of vaccine wastage in some states.
In a meeting with chief ministers via videoconference, PM Modi said 70 districts of the country reported 150 per cent increase in Covid-19 cases in last few weeks.
“An increase in cases is being seen in many districts that had protected themselves so far and were kind of safe-zones. We will have to immediately stop the emerging second wave of Covid-19 and for this, we will have to take quick and decisive steps,” PM Modi said at the meeting.
Highest spike in Covid cases since mid-December
Over the past week, India has registered the highest spike in the number of fresh cases since mid-December, triggering worries that a new wave of Covid-19 infections had started. India recorded its highest daily tally of coronavirus infections this year on Wednesday, reporting 28,903 new cases in a span of 24 hours. Presenty, India’s Covid caseload stands at 1,14,38,734.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath did not attend the meeting.
PM flags issue of vaccine wastage
The Prime Minister also highlighted the issue of vaccine wastage in states like Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
“Need to take issue of wastage of vaccines doses very seriously. Over 10 per cent vaccine wastage is taking place in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. In UP, it is almost the same. It should be reviewed why this is happening. Monitoring must be done,” the PM said.
The government has extended its vaccination drive to senior citizens from March 1. Everyone above 60 years of age and those over 45 years with certain/listed co-morbidities are eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccines approved by the Centre — Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and Covishield by Serum Institute.
PM calls for ramping up testing
PM Modi also said that India’s recovery rate was over 96 per cent and fatality rate among the lowest in the world even as he stressed that “our confidence should not turn into overconfidence, our success should not turn into negligence”.
“It has now become necessary for us to become pro-active. The option of making micro-containment zones wherever necessary should be implemented, we should not bring leniency,” he said.
Calling for ramping up testing in smaller towns, PM Modi said, “States like Kerala, UP, Chhattisgarh are overly dependent on antigen tests. RT PCR tests should make for 70 per cent of overall testing.”
“We don’t have to bring the public into panic mode. We don’t have to bring a situation where there is an atmosphere of fear. We have to free the people off difficulties by taking some precautions and initiatives,” he told the CMs.