17 Mar 2021: Need to stop second wave of COVID-19, Modi tells CMs
In a meeting with Chief Ministers on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed the need to contain the "emerging second peak" of COVID-19.
Modi warned that if the rise in infections is not contained, it could lead to a "nationwide outbreak."
India, the world's second worst-hit country in the pandemic, appeared to contain COVID-19 till early February, however, cases have since risen.
Quote: 'Need to immediately stop emerging second peak'
Modi said during the meeting, "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."
"The self-confidence that we gained in our corona fight should not turn into overconfidence. Our success should not be the reason for carelessness," he said.
Meeting: Initiatives to counter outbreak shouldn't cause panic: Modi
The CMs of Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal were absent from the meeting.
During the meeting, Modi said initiatives to counter outbreaks—such as setting up of micro-containment zones and the enforcement of restrictions—should be taken without creating panic.
"Over 70% of the tests should be RT-PCR. States should not rely on Rapid Antigen Tests," Modi said, referring to Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Odisha, and UP.
Vaccine: PM Modi also warned against vaccine wastage
Modi also warned against vaccine wastage as India launched the second phase of its vaccination drive on March 1. Currently, only healthcare/frontline workers, people aged over 65, and those aged over 45 with co-morbidities can get vaccinated.
Modi pulled up Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and UP for high vaccine wastage, likening it to "stealing someone's health right by letting a single dose go waste."
Outbreak: How bad is the outbreak in India?
As of Wednesday morning, India reported a total of 1,14,38,734 COVID-19 cases, including 1,59,044 deaths, 2,34,406 active cases, and 1,10,45,284 recoveries, the Health Ministry's data showed.
On Wednesday, India added 28,903 new cases, and 188 fresh fatalities; the biggest single-day rise in infections and deaths this year.
The government has blamed large gatherings and reluctance to wear face masks for the latest spike.