Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said it was crucial to contain the “emerging second peak” of coronavirus with steps such as setting up of micro-containment zones and enforcement of restrictions amid a surge in cases across the country.
Speaking at a meeting with chief ministers, PM Modi said: “If we don’t stop this pandemic right now, then there could be a nationwide outbreak. We have to immediately stop the emerging second peak and take big and decisive steps."
He added: “The self-confidence that we gained in our corona fight should not turn into overconfidence. Our success should not be the reason for carelessness."
Amid reports that the health ministry had proposed opening up vaccination to all above the age of 45 years on the request by states, the prime minister also warned against vaccine wastage. He pulled up states such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh for high vaccine wastage, saying it was akin to "stealing someone’s health right by letting a single dose go waste".
Praising states which have got back into mission mode, the prime minister said localised containment zones are way forward but measures must be enforced without spreading panic among people.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh counterparts were missing from the meeting amid campaigning for the upcoming assembly elections.
The meeting came on a day when India's daily coronavirus infections jumped by 28,903 today, data from the health ministry showed, for the highest increase since December 13 and taking the nationwide tally to 11.44 million. Deaths swelled by 188, the highest figure in two months, to stand at 159,044.
India has the world's highest tally of infections after the United States and Brazil. Nearly 62% of infections in the past 24 hours and 46% of the deaths were reported by Maharashtra, the country's worst affected. The Centre has blamed crowding and a general reluctance to wear masks for the spike, ruling out the virus mutations that have been a factor in Western countries. Maharashtra, home to India's commercial capital of Mumbai, is among the states that have already tightened rules to curb the spread of the virus.