New Delhi: Expressing concern over the rise in active COVID-19 cases in a few states, including Maharashtra, the Centre on Thursday advised people to be "careful and watchful" and not lower guard as the pandemic is not yet over. At a press conference, NITI Aayog member (Health) V K Paul termed the coronavirus situation, especially in Maharashtra "worrisome". He referred to the lockdown imposed in Nagpur from March 15 to 21 to say, "We are reaching a situation where these approaches (to tackle the spread of COVID-19) are being brought back." "We are very worried about the rise in cases in Maharashtra. Don't take this virus for granted. It can come up unexpectedly. If we have to remain free of this virus, COVID-appropriate behaviour, containment strategy as well as vaccination has to be brought in," Paul said.
He advised that in districts where COVID-19 cases are seemingly on the rise, vaccination of eligible individuals should be intensified and prioritised. Sounding a word of caution for Delhi and its neighbourhood, Paul said the national capital is seeing a rise in positivity rate, so is Gurgaon, Faridabad and to an extent Gautam Buddh Nagar and Ghaziabad.
"Be careful, be watchful. We still have a huge population at risk of this virus. This pandemic is not yet over. Be vigilant," he said. "Today, using the force of vaccination, we are in a position to give even a stronger fight (to the pandemic). We plead again, do not lower your guard and please embrace the vaccines that are available," Paul added.
Asked whether a mutant strain of the coronavirus is responsible for the rise in cases, ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargava said it has not been found incriminating in the surge in Maharashtra. "At the moment, it is just related to reduced testing, tracking and tracing as well as COVID-inappropriate behaviour and large congregations," he said.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said Nagpur, Pune, Thane, Mumbai, Bengaluru Urban, Ernakulam, Amravati, Jalgaon, Nashik and Aurangabad districts have the highest number of active COVID-19 cases.
(With PTI inputs)