Cabinet secy chairs COVID review meet; 11 states, UTs of 'grave concern' told to take strict action

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New Delhi, Apr 2 (PTI) Eleven states and Union Territories, marked as 'states of grave concern' because of their rising daily COVID-19 cases, have not shown a commensurate increase in enforcement of containment activities, the Centre said on Friday.

Chairing a high-level review meeting with chief secretaries, Directors General of Police and health secretaries of all states and UTs, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba asked these states to take strict action to contain the contagion.

According to the health ministry, the 11 states of grave concern are Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Haryana.

They have contributed 90 per cent of COVID cases, 90.5 per cent of deaths in 14 days till March 31, and have crossed or close to crossing their early reported peaks last year, it said.

Use of the Police Act, Disaster Management Act and other legal and administrative provisions for imposing penalties on defaulters were underscored at the meeting for immediate compliance by the states.

Another worrisome aspect pointed out at the meeting was that tier two and tier three cities along with peri-urban areas have recorded the recent rises in COVID cases and that the spread of infection from these areas to the rural areas with weak health infrastructure would overwhelm the local administration.

Taking note of the present situation due to deterioration of the COVID scenario over the fortnight, the cabinet secretary pointed out that the case growth rate of 6.8 per cent in March 2021 has surpassed the previous record of 5.5 per cent in June last year.

The country also reported a 5.5 per cent growth rate in daily COVID deaths in this period, the health ministry said.

While 97,000 daily new COVID cases were reported at the peak of the pandemic in September 2020, the country has now reached the critical figure of 81,000 daily new cases, it said.

After a detailed and comprehensive review of the measures taken by the states and UTs, Gauba reiterated the necessity of meticulous and hard work regarding stringent enforcement of containment and surveillance measures in conjunction with ramping up of vaccination and strict enforcement of COVID-appropriate behaviour. PTI PLB NSD NSD