Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a virtual meeting on Tuesday, warned the chief ministers of eight states and union territories against letting their guards down in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. He called for reducing the positivity and fatality rates by focusing on curbing the virus transmission. Even as he underlined that India's COVID-19 situation is more stable than other countries in terms of recovery and fatality rates, the prime minister called for more RT-PCR tests.
Modi asked them to work towards bringing the positive rate to less than 5 per cent and the fatality rate to under 1 per cent and called for more RT-PCR tests. "We need to speed up our efforts to reduce transmission of the virus. Testing, confirmation, contact tracing and data must be given top priority," he said.
The meeting was also attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, while the chief ministers who participated in the virtual interaction include Delhi's Arvind Kejriwal, Rajasthan's Ashok Gehlot, West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra's Uddhav Thackeray, Chhattisgarh's Bhupesh Baghel, Telangana's K Chandrashekhar Rao and Gujarat's Vijay Rupani. A massive network of testing to treatment is running well in the entire country and it is being regularly widened, the prime minister said.
Modi has held several rounds of virtual meetings with states over the coronavirus situation so far. While the national daily COVID-19 case count has remained below 50,000 for some time, several urban centres have witnessed a surge, resulting in enforcement of several measures, including curfews in some cities.
India saw 37,975 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day taking the country's COVID-19 caseload to 91.77 lakh, while the recoveries crossed 86 lakh, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot told the prime minister that his government has increased testing and strengthened infrastructure to tackle the infection. Highlighting the steps taken by the state government to contain the infection, the chief minister spoke about the ban on firecrackers, law on wearing of masks, night curfew in worst-hit districts and the restrictions on gatherings. He also shared with the prime minister inputs about the strengthening of infrastructure like oxygen generation plants, increase in the number of ICUs and oxygen beds in hospitals, the sources added. Gehlot said the state government is testing over 30,000 samples a day, which stood at 18,000 tests a day in the months of September and October.
Assuring the prime minister of cooperation, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that her government is fully prepared to work with the Centre and all other stakeholders for the speedy implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination programme in the state. Noting that West Bengal has successfully reduced COVID-19 positivity and death rates, Banerjee said the recovery rate among the patients in the state has improved as compared to other parts of the country.
The COVID-19 situation in Gujarat is under control and enough number of beds are available for patients, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said during the virtual interaction. Rupani also informed about various initiatives to curb the coronavirus transmission during the meeting.
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the high severity of the third wave of COVID-19 in the national capital is due to many factors, pollution being an important one, PTI reported. Kejriwal told the prime minister that Delhi saw the peak of 8,600 coronavirus cases on November 10 during the third wave and since then, the number of cases as well as the positivity rate are steadily decreasing. He also sought the reservation of the additional 1,000 ICU beds in the central government-run hospitals in Delhi for coronavirus patients till the third wave of the infection lasts in the city.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said the Covid-19 situation in the state is under control. Every day 23,000 screening tests are being done and the state reported one per cent fatality rate in October-November. Baghel said the number of beds with oxygen facility and ICU beds has been increased in Chhattisgarh. All the medical colleges in the state have RT-PCR facility. Four new labs have been established for testing. Since October, the number of new cases has gradually declined. The death rate was one per cent in October-November, 2020.
Following the meeting, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao announced that the state government is ready with an action plan to administer scientifically approved COVID-19 vaccine to the people and felt that the verification should be done on whether it has any side effects before being administered. An official release from Rao's office said that the in the virtual meeting with the prime minister, he discussed the method pertaining to distribution and administering of the vaccine.