Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said it was critical to stop what he called the "emerging second peak" of Covid with decisive steps including micro-containment zones, increased testing and enforcement of restrictions like masks.
At a virtual meeting with Chief Ministers amid a worrying spike in Covid cases in some states, PM Modi said nearly 70 districts in the country had seen an increase in the positivity rate by over 150 per cent recently.
"If we don't stop this right now, then there could be a situation of a nationwide outbreak. We have to immediately stop the emerging second peak and take big and decisive steps," PM Modi told the Chief Ministers.
"The self-confidence that we gained in our corona fight should not turn into overconfidence. Our success should not be the reason for carelessness," he warned.
He stressed that initiatives needed to be taken without causing panic among people.
Speaking on the districts that had seen a surge in the past few days, the PM said it was worth considering that these were also the zones where testing and vaccination was comparatively less.
The Prime Minister called for increased RT-PCR tests for proper testing and tracking of the infection and a focus on smaller towns.
"Over 70 per cent of the tests should be RTPCR. States should not rely on Rapid Antigen Tests," said PM Modi, referring to Kerala, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh
"We have to be pro-active in the test, track and treat strategy application," he stressed.
The Prime Minister noted that tier 2 and 3 towns, which had escaped the first wave, were getting affected this time round. It would not take much for the virus to spread to villages from there, which would overwhelm the health care system of the country, he said.
PM Modi also cautioned against the waste of vaccine in some states, advising them to use the shot available to them before the expiry date and avoid waste.
More than 10 per cent of vaccine doses were being wasted in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh, he said, adding: "This is something that must not happen and needs urgent attention."
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, campaigning for the approaching state election, was missing as PM Modi interacted with Chief Ministers via video conference, as he has done frequently since the coronavirus outbreak a year ago. Also absent were Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath - who is reportedly campaigning for the BJP in Assam -- and Bhupesh Baghel, the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, which is one of the five worst-affected states, with the highest deaths in the last 24 hours.
This morning, India recorded 28,903 fresh COVID-19 cases since yesterday, the highest daily rise since December 11 (30,254), with the total tally at 1.14 crore cases and 1,59,044 deaths. 188 deaths have been reported, the most in a day since January 15 (191).
In the last 24 hours, the most cases have been reported from Maharashtra (17,864), Kerala (1,970), Punjab (1,463), Karanataka (1,135) and Gujarat (954).
The average number of Covid cases is at an 81-day high, according to figures. Cases are now rising in 19 states compared to four just a month ago.
Of 19 districts in India with the highest number of coronavirus cases in the last 10 days, 15 are from Maharashtra, the Union Health Ministry has said. The Centre told the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government yesterday that the state was "in the beginning of a second wave of Covid" and that there was a lack of Covid-appropriate behavior and "tracking and testing of cases".
In the list of the districts contributing the highest numbers to the country's caseload, only three are from other states. These are Bengaluru Urban in Karnataka, Indore in Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu capital Chennai.