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The next three weeks are crucial with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic situation in the country, said Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday.

"Centre working closely with States and UTs on public health measures to contain Covid-19. Next three weeks crucial! At a meeting held today, UTs advised augmenting hospital infrastructure, ramping up testing, creating containment zones and strictly enforcing Covid appropriate behaviour," Vardhan wrote on Twitter.

Earlier on Tuesday, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan along with Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla chaired a high-level meeting to review and discuss the Covid-19 status, management and response strategy.

The meeting was held via video conferencing and attended by Dr V K Paul, member (health) of NITI Aayog, Dr Balram Bhargava, secretary of DHR and DG ICMR, the chief secretaries and DGPs of all the union territories of India.

In the meeting, the home secretary spoke about the steep growth in coronavirus infections across the country. He advised the UTs to increase RT-PCR testing along with the use of RAT (Rapid Antigen Test) for screening in clusters.

The UTs shared the efforts they are undertaking for containment and management of the cases. Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadweep stated that the rise in cases was due to a large number of inbound travellers.

The Chandigarh administration informed about the door-to-door counselling for increasing vaccination. It said that 905 of the patients in the UT are in home isolation and being monitored by mobile teams.

The Delhi administration discussed shortage of beds and the efforts to augment this through central government's infrastructure and support from DRDO's newly operationalised Covid Hospital.

Dr V K Paul pointed out the criticality of the next three weeks for Covid response measures. The UT administrators were advised to plan in advance for three weeks.

Meanwhile, India reported 2,59,170 new Covid-19 cases and 1,761 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Union health ministry said on Tuesday. With this, the cumulative cases in the country have reached 1,53,21,089.

There are currently 20,31,977 active cases across India.

As many as 1,54,761 people have recovered from the disease. The total number of recoveries now stands at 1,31,08,582. The death toll has reached 1,80,530 with additional 1,761 fatalities.

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