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COVID situation going from ‘bad to worse’: Govt

COVID situation going from ‘bad to worse’: Govt
(L) Dr. VK. Paul along with Rajesh Bhushan addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. (PIB)
NEW DELHI, MAR 30 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 3/30/2021 12:44:22 PM IST

 Says, the entire country is at risk and nobody should be complacent

The coronavirus situation is “turning from bad to worse” and is a huge cause of worry especially for some states, the Centre said on Tuesday while stressing that the whole country is at risk and nobody should be complacent.

Addressing a weekly press conference, NITI Aayog member (Health) VK Paul said, “As you have noticed in the last few weeks, the situation is becoming bad to worse. It is a serious cause of concern. In some states in particular, there is a huge cause of worry. No part of the country should be complacent.”

“We are facing an increasingly severe and intense situation, more so surely in some districts. But the whole country is potentially at risk and therefore all efforts to contain and save lives should be taken…,” he said.

Hospitals and ICUs have to be readied. If cases increase rapidly, the healthcare system would be overwhelmed, Paul warned. The average national positivity rate during last week was 5.65%. His comments come on the back of Maharashtra seeing a rapid rise in cases over the past few weeks, registering 40,414 last Sunday. 

While measures to combat the spread of a second wave have been taken - Maharashtra has enforced a night curfew across the state while Karnataka has clamped down on public gatherings and festival celebrations have been banned across the country - there seem to be no signs of the virus slowing down.

Maharashtra remains the most worrying state, with its test positivity rate — the number of positive diagnoses among tests conducted— crossing 23% in the last one week. Among the other high-burden states are Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Punjab. 

Even as the daily numbers are surging— 56,211 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 24 hours across the country— vaccinations continue to lag in pace. From April 1, vaccinations will open up for all aged above 45 years. Both pre-registrations and walk-ins are allowed, but the latter will only be entertained after 3 pm.

Health secretary writes to states: Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan Tuesday wrote to all states, calling for districts to draw up individual action plans to curb the spread of Covid-19. Bhushan outlined the steps that need to be taken to stem the current rise, especially since the virus seems to be making a strong comeback in the same states that saw a high number of cases between August and November 2020.  

Among the measures outlined are tracing 25-30 contacts per positive case, isolation, and larger containment zones. “Test, track, treat” remains the key, he said. He asked for all districts to draw up individual action plans. “Each district, irrespective of whether it is seeing a surge right now or is with a current low burden, should make a district action plan with clear timelines and responsibilities,” Bhushan wrote in the letter. 

He also said that Covid-appropriate behaviour — masking and distancing — needs to be reinforced — if needed, by using the Police Act.

‘Low share of vax in pvt hospitals’: The share of private hospitals in the vaccination programme varies by state but remains fairly low in many places. Nationally, just 16.53 per cent of the vaccinations have taken place in the private sector, the government said. 

Variants: Out of a total of 11,064 samples that have been analysed for different variants since December, 807 were found to have the UK variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus, 47 had the South African variant, and one had the Brazilian variant, the government said. 

Director General ICMR, Dr Balram Bhargava said both vaccines currently in use in the country-- Covaxin and Covishield-- have been found to be effective against the UK and the South African variants while studies are on to determine their efficacy on the Brazilian variant.

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