Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a review meeting with Additional Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and Secretaries of 12 states, Municipal Commissioners and District Collectors of 46 districts most affected by Covid-19. The country has witnessed the sharpest hikes in the number of covid positive cases and fatalities since May 2020 in the last week. While the rise in weekly cases is at 7.7%, the increase in deaths has been pegged at 5.1%. The health member of the NITI Aayog, Dr VK Paul, was also present at the meeting.
The 12 states part of the meeting includes Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Punjab and Bihar. The 46 districts contributed to 71% of the cases and 69% of deaths in this one month. Of these, 25 districts are from Maharashtra and account for 59.8% of cases in the country. As per the statistics presented, 90% of covid deaths continued to be of those above 45 years, and while 90% of people are aware, only 45% wear face masks.
One infected person could spread Covid-19 to an average of 406 other individuals in a 30-day window without restrictions that could be reduced to just 15 by decreasing physical exposure to 50% and a further 2.5 (average) by decreasing physical exposure to 75%. Effective containment and contact tracing have been recommended for the 46 districts for 14 successive days for breaking transmission.
A five-fold strategy was proposed, including an exponential increase in testing, effective isolation and contact tracing, re-invigoration of public and private healthcare resources, ensuring Covid-appropriate behaviour and targeted approach to vaccination. It was re-emphasized that there is no shortage of vaccines, and the states must use all capacities, within the private and public sectors, without stocking for a shortage.
States were also instructed to make advance plans for logistics and infrastructure management for 1-1.5 months as an unchecked spread of infection may overwhelm the local administration.