New Delhi: PM Modi on Thursday advised states to audit COVID-specific facilities to ensure operational readiness of hospital infrastructure, including oxygen cylinders, oxygen generation plants, ventilators and staff following a high-level stock-taking meeting.
Modi, who was seen wearing a mask in Parliament on Thursday, urged people to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour at all times, especially in view of the upcoming festive season, including masking up in crowded places.
The meeting was attended by home minister Amit Shah, health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and external affairs minister S Jaishankar among others.
The PM reiterated that COVID is not over yet and directed officials to strengthen surveillance measures, especially at international airports. The government on Thursday said two per cent of passengers arriving in international flights will be subjected to random coronavirus tests from December 24.
PM stresses on precaution jabs for vulnerable groups
PM Modi urged that precaution doses of COVID vaccines may be encouraged, especially for vulnerable and elderly groups, among efforts to boost preparedness in view of cases increasing in several countries. He directed officials to ramp up testing and genomic sequencing efforts.
States have been asked to share a larger number of samples with the designated INSACOG, a pan-India network of laboratories to monitor genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2, for genome sequencing on a daily basis. The government said this will facilitate undertaking of requisite public health measures.
COVID cases have witnessed a spurt in countries such as China, Japan, US, South Korea and Brazil among others.
Though India has been witnessing a steady decline in cases, with average daily cases falling to 153 and weekly positivity down to 0.14 per cent in the week ending December 22, the daily average cases reported globally in the last six weeks have reached 5.9 lakh, the PM was briefed at the meet, prompting him to caution authorities against complacency and advise strict vigil.
Modi also stressed that COVID infrastructure at all levels should be maintained at a high level of preparedness in terms of equipment, processes and human resources. He was informed that there is adequate availability with regard to medicine, vaccines and hospital beds. According to a government statement, he advised regular monitoring of availability and prices of essential medicines.
In China, the situation is most worrisome as, reports suggest, their health infrastructure is overwhelmed due to the increased patient burden and even the morgues are filling up fast. The Chinese government has, however, denied these reports.
According to data shared on COVID-19 prevalence in various countries by the WHO, China has reported just 447 COVID deaths over the past week. The US, Japan and Brazil, which are also witnessing a spurt in COVID cases, have reported 2,658, 1,443 and 1,026 deaths over the past week while India has reported 22 deaths during this period, WHO data shows.
Scientists say the Omicron variant remains the predominant strain causing a spike in cases globally.