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NEW DELGI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday directed the health ministry to dispatch public health specialists and clinicians to Maharashtra, Punjab and Chhattisgarh—the three states leading the surge in coronavirus cases and deaths.

Modi was chairing a high-level meeting to review the covid-19 situation and vaccination programme amid the second wave of the pandemic. The review meeting came as India reported 93,249 cases and 513 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the country’s total active caseload to 691,597.

The prime minister noted that 10 states accounted for more than 90% of a rapidly surging caseload and death toll, with the situation in Maharashtra, Punjab and Chhattisgarh said to be of “serious" concern.

The seven other states are Karnataka, Kerala, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Haryana.

Maharashtra accounted for 57% of the total number of cases and 47% of deaths in the country in the past 14 days. The total number of cases per day has touched 47,913 in the state—more than double the number in its earlier peak.

Punjab accounted for 4.5% of cases in the last fortnight. However, what is a matter of serious concern is the high death toll—16.3% of the national total. Chhattisgarh makes up 4.3% of cases and more than 7% of deaths. The 10 states and UTs are responsible for 91% of cases and deaths. Equally alarming is the doubling rate of infections, or the time it takes for the number of cases to double, in India at around 115 days.

With some states such as Maharashtra facing a shortage of health facilities, including life-saving equipment, Modi asked authorities to ensure that patients were hospitalized in time and that there were enough beds and testing facilities.

Modi said covid deaths should be prevented under all circumstances by ramping up healthcare infrastructure, availability of oxygen and ventilators and ensuring that clinical management protocols are followed for patients in hospitals as well as at home.

Modi also highlighted the need to ensure effective implementation of containment measures, besides the involvement of community volunteers in active case search and management of containment zones. He urged all states to take stringent measures with comprehensive restrictions in places witnessing a surge. The sharp rise in cases could be due to people failing to use masks or maintain social distancing—a result of pandemic fatigue—and the absence of effective implementation of containment measures.

Modi suggested a daily analysis of the vaccination drive should be shared with states and UTs as feedback for corrective actions.

The meeting was informed that vaccine makers are ramping up production and are in discussion with other domestic and foreign companies to increase capacity to meet rising domestic requirements and the genuine needs of other countries.

The number of vaccinations on Sunday crossed 75 million, made up of 65 million first doses and 10 million second doses.

The prime minister directed that for sustainable covid-19 management, awareness and involvement of the community are paramount.

Modi suggested a fivefold strategy of testing, tracing, treatment, covid-appropriate behaviour and vaccination. He emphasized the need to enforce covid-appropriate behaviour in the coming days.

The Prime Minister’s Office said that a special campaign to promote covid-appropriate behaviour with an emphasis on 100% mask usage, personal hygiene and sanitation at public and workplaces and health facilities will be organized from 6 to 14 April.

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