Central teams comprising public health specialists and clinicians will be sent to Maharashtra, Punjab and Chhattisgarh because of the high number of fresh daily cases and the disproportionate number of deaths, the Prime Minister's office said at the end of a meeting on Sunday on the ongoing Covid surge in 10 states. The Prime Minister had chaired the meet, which was attended by all senior officers -- including the Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary.
In a statement this evening, the PM's Office said the reasons for the sharper rise in cases could be mainly attributed to the severe laxity in maintaining Covid-appropriate behaviour - especially the use of masks and social distancing.
While the exact "contribution of mutant strains in the surge in some states remains speculative", the measures to control the pandemic remain the same", read the statement. In view of this it was decided to strengthen the safety measures against Covid.
Dr Randeep Guleria -- the chief of Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences and a top member of the government's Covid Task Force - has said the mutant strains are partly responsible for the spike. He has also suggested a bigger range of measures, including containment zones, lockdown areas, ramping up testing, tracing and isolation.
On Sunday, Maharashtra declared that it would put in a range of restrictions including night curfew. The state has contributed 57 per cent of the total cases and 47 per cent of the deaths in the country in the country over the last 14 days.
The number of new cases in Maharashtra per day has touched 47,913 -- more than double its earlier peak.
Punjab has contributed 4.5 per cent of the number of cases in the country in the last 14 days. It has also contributed 16.3 per cent of the deaths, the PM's office said, pointing to it as a matter of "serious concern".
Chhattisgarh has contributed 4.3% of total cases in the country over the last 14 days, but its number of fatalities has crossed 7 per cent in the same period.
The 10 states and Union Territories are contributing 91.4 per cent of total cases and 90.9 per cent of total deaths in the country.
At the meeting, the Prime Minister said the "five-fold strategy of Testing, Tracing, Treatment, Covid-appropriate behaviour and Vaccination if implemented with utmost seriousness and commitment, will be effective in curbing the spread," his office said.
"A special campaign for Covid appropriate behaviour with emphasis on 100% mask usage, personal hygiene and sanitation at public places/workplaces and health facilities will be organised from 6th April to 14 April 2021," read the statement.
The Prime Minister also highlighted the need to ensure availability of beds, oxygen, ventilators, testing facilities and timely hospitalization. He also pointed out the need to ensure clinical management protocols be followed across all hospitals as well as for those in-home care.
Over the last 24 hours, the country saw the biggest daily surge in Covid cases since mid-September, with 93,249 fresh infections, taking the tally to over 1.24 crore. This is the highest since September 19, when 93,337 cases were recorded.