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NEW DELHI: Mansukh Mandaviya, union health minister, on Saturday interacted with principal secretaries and mission directors (National Health Mission) of all major states and reviewed the progress of covid-19 vaccination drive.

He said the immediate milestone in India’s Covid-19 vaccination journey is the completion of administration of 100 crore doses. India has so far administered 94 crore doses.

Mandaviya noted that festivals, usually synonymous with auspiciousness, joy and large gatherings, if not done in accordance to COVID protocols can derail the containment of the pandemic. 

"The twin pronged solution is to follow COVID protocols very strictly and speeding up of vaccination," said the health minister, citing results of experiments that pegged the number of first dose recipients not developing severe covid-19 to be 96% which rises to nearly 98% for those who have taken both the doses of the vaccine.

Observing that more than 8 crore doses remain available with states, he enquired about hurdles, if any,  faced by them in accelerating the pace of vaccination among the target population. 

States such as Uttar Pradesh, undertaking mass vaccination drives, pointed out the comparatively limited supply of Covaxin and its shorter span between the doses as a inhibiting factor.

The minister urged states to increase pace of vaccine administration.

Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan urged state health administrators to be stringent about compliance of COVID appropriate behaviour during festivities to prevent a surge in cases. 

The central guidelines that have been issued so far advice No Mass gatherings in areas identified as Containment Zones and in districts reporting more than 5% case positivity.

The Centre has advised gatherings with advance permissions and limited people (as per local context) to be allowed in districts with a positivity rate of 5% and below. Relaxations and restrictions will reviewed based on weekly case positivity.

“People to be strongly discouraged from physical visits and intermingling. Provision for “online darshans" and virtual celebrations to be encouraged. All rituals like effigies burning, Durga Puja pandal, “dandia", “garbas" and “Chhatt Puja" should be symbolic. Regulation of the number of people allowed to participate in gatherings/ processions. Separate entry and exit points at places of worships and use of common prayer mats, offering of “prasad", sprinkling of holy water, etc. to be avoided," the centre said.

The meeting also discussed prompt utilisation of Emergency COVID Response Package (ECRP) II financial resources provided to states.

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