Prime Minister Narendra Modi today warned the nation against any laxity in the vigilance against coronavirus ahead of the festive season, saying all safety measures must be observed till a vaccine for the contagion is found. In a special address to the nation as the festival season begins, PM Modi said, "Till the time we get a vaccine shot, we absolutely cannot be complacent about the pandemic".
India, he said, is working on two or three possible vaccines and "we are trying our best to get a vaccine, as is the rest of the world".
"I want to let you know that once we get a vaccine, everyone will get it in a planned, phased and fast manner," he added.
"Till the time we do not get the vaccine, if behave even a little irresponsibly, we can harm ourselves and all those around us. Wear masks, maintain 'Do gaz ki doori (six-feet distance), wash hands regularly, use sanitisers and do not venture out unless absolutely necessary," he added.
On Sunday, Union Health Minister Dr Harshvardhan said two firms - the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech -- are expected to begin late stage clinical trials of their vaccines after they receive approval.
A day before, Dr Reddy's Laboratories Ltd and the Russian Direct Investment Fund said they have received fresh approval for clinical trials of the Russian vaccine.
Last week, PM Modi had suggested that preparations for distribution of the Covid vaccine should be as thorough as any election.
The access to the vaccine should be "speedy" for all members of the population. He also asked officials to test out the logistics, including cold storage, monitoring of clinics, and keep the supply of ancillary equipment, like syringes, ready.
Data from the health ministry shows that Coronavirus figures have been tapering off over the last couple of weeks – dropping to less than 50,000 over the last 24 hours for the first time in three months. A Central medical panel has, however, warned that a spike can be expected with the festival season and the onset of winter if there is any laxity in the observance of safety measures.
It can be as much as "upto 26 lakh cases within a month," the committee said, adding that only 30 per cent of the population has developed immunity so far.
The committee said its apprehensions are borne out by the situation in Kerala where after the recent Onam festival a sharp rise in daily Covid figures were observed. The spike started on September 8 – days after the Onam celebrations that stretched from August 22 to September 2.
PM Modi observed today that with the onset of the festive season, people have relaxed their vigilance regarding COVID-19. "Videos show that people are being irresponsible and not taking the steps advised to a very large extent. This cannot happen," he said.
"We must not think that things are normal again. You are putting yourselves, your families, children and elders in your home in grave danger by not taking the proper precautions," the Prime Minister added.