‘Serious concern’ over Covid-19 situation in 11 states/UTs: Centre

The Central government on Friday said that the coronavirus situation in 11 states/Union Territories is a matter of “serious concern” and urged the Chief Secretaries and Directors General of Police concerned to take appropriate action in this regard.

The directions were given during a review meeting Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba held with Chief Secretaries, DGP and Health Secretaries of Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Haryana.

These states and Union Territories have been reporting a very high rise in daily Covid cases and mortalities in the last two weeks. India recorded 81,466 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the highest since October 2020.

Taking note of the present situation due to the continuous deterioration of the Covid scenario over the fortnight, the Cabinet Secretary pointed out that the current Covid case growth rate of 6.8 per cent in March 2021 has surpassed the previous record of 5.5 per cent (June 2020).

The country also reported 5.5 per cent growth rate in daily Covid deaths in this period. While India was reporting about 97,000 daily new Covid cases at the peak of the pandemic in September 2020, it has now reached the critical figure of 81,000 daily new cases.

In a detailed presentation, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan highlighted the current trajectory of Covid in the states and UTs while Information and Broadcasting Secretary Amit Khare showcased ways of effective behavioural change communication to instil Covid appropriate behaviour among the populace.

Niti Aayog’s Member Health, Dr V.K. Paul emphasised on need for states to follow a protocol for sharing clinical and epidemiological data for more detailed study of mutant strain of virus for genome sequencing.

Union Home Secretary A.K. Bhalla pointed out that the 11 states and UTs that are showing a surge in daily Covid cases have not shown commensurate increase in enforcement of containment activities, and urged the Chief Secretaries and DGPs of the states and UTs for taking appropriate strict action in this regard.

These states and UTs were categorised as “states of grave concern” on account of their high and rising daily case and higher daily deaths. These have contributed 90 per cent of Covid cases (as on March 31) and 90.5 per cent of deaths (as on March 31) in last 14 days, and have crossed or close to crossing their early reported peaks during last year.

It was pointed out the situation was particularly worrying in Maharashtra, and the state administration was advised to take up immediate and high-effective measures to ensure containment of active cases and daily deaths through adherence of the standard clinical management protocol shared earlier with all states and UTs.

Another worrisome aspect pointed out was that Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, along with peri-urban areas have recorded the recent high rises in Covid cases, and how the spread of infection from these areas to the rural areas with weak health infrastructure would overwhelm the local administration was also highlighted.