With India in the grip of the second covid-19 wave, the government said that the situation was going from bad to worse with serious cause for concern in some states, even as it expected a fast uptake in the vaccination from April 1 onwards.
“No state and no part of the county should be complacent. Trends show that the virus is still very active and can penetrate our defences. When we think we have controlled it, it strikes back. There is a concern we should all be mindful of,” said V K Paul, member-health, Niti Aayog while addressing a weekly briefing on covid situation in India.
The health ministry has asked 47 districts across the country to increase RT-PCR testing significantly for faster identification of affected cases and effective tracking and tracing exercise.
Of the ten top districts with the most active cases, eight are in Maharashtra and the other two include Delhi and Bengaluru urban. In Maharashtra the positivity rate in the last week crossed 23 per cent underlining the need to increase the testing significantly. From just over 3,000 average daily cases in the second week of February, the figure has crossed 34,000 in the last week of March in Maharashtra. “If the virus is there somewhere in our country then it is everywhere,” Paul added.
Country’s average positivity rate for Covid during the last week was 5.65 per cent. Against this the rate of patients testing positive is in the range of 7 to 9 per cent in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Punjab.
In a letter to chief secretaries of all states, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan called for proactive and focused action to ensure the infection does not spread into areas which have low prevalence. “The current rise of cases is of concern and has the potential of overwhelming the healthcare systems, unless checked right now.”
From April 1 onwards, with the vaccine against Covid-19 opening for all above 45 years of age, the government is expecting an uptake in the vaccination drive . While the health ministry has not given an estimate of the size of this population group, it has found that 88 per cent of Covid deaths occured in those above the 45 year age bracket.
“We have to do micro projection within the district, rather than us sitting in Delhi and giving a projection….We now have the confidence to accelerate (vaccination). People must give up hesitancy and embrace the vaccine,” Bhushan added.
States have also been told to utilise the private sector capacity in ramping up vaccination. Private facilities in some states such as Haryana, Meghalaya and Uttarakhand account for less than 20 per cent of total vaccinations for Covid.
The rising cases have so far been attributed to lack of social distancing, mask wearing and all covid related precautions. As far as the variants go, since December over 11,000 samples went through genome sequencing. Of these 807 were found to be the UK variant, 47 of South Africa lineage and one was the Brazilian strain.