With the country reporting over 12,000 daily fresh cases of Covid-19, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday asked officials to monitor the rate of hospitalisation and focus on testing, surveillance and whole genome sequencing of positive samples.
India reported 13,313 new cases in the last 24 hours and the active caseload currently stands at 83,990. The weekly positivity rate is presently at 2.81 per cent.
In a review meeting with key experts, Mandaviya stressed on the need to focus on districts reporting high case positivity and undertake adequate testing, with a higher proportion of RT-PCR. Principal Scientific Advisor to the government Ajay K Sood; Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Rajesh Gokhale; Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research Balram Bhargava; Head of Covid Task Group, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation N K Arora; Member, NITI Aayog V K Paul; and Director, NCDC Sujeet Singh were the key experts present, among others. Mandaviya also asked officials to focus on effective Covid-19 surveillance to control the spread of infection in a timely manner.
Several senior officials of the health ministry also attended the meeting, such as Additional Secretary Manohar Agnani and Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal. Agarwal made a detailed presentation on the global scenario of a surge in Covid cases and the status of Covid-19 in the country. This included presentation and analysis of the trend of Covid-19 cases; daily and active cases, positivity and deaths; testing status along with state-wise weekly tests per million, RT-PCR share in weekly tests; genome sequencing; and vaccination status. Secretary, Ministry of Ayush V Rajesh Kotecha was also present in Thursday’s review meeting.
Mandaviya asked officials to expedite vaccination coverage, including booster doses in districts reporting a high number of cases. “As there are adequate vaccine doses available, let there be no vaccine wastage while focusing on accelerating vaccination among the eligible and vulnerable groups,” he said.
He directed officials to continue to focus on surveillance and whole genome sequencing (WGS) to scan for any possible mutation, a health ministry statement said. He also asked them to monitor hospitalisations due to Covid-19, and cases of influenza-like illness.
The Omicron strain of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which caused the third wave of infections in the country, has several sub-variants that are now in circulation. Experts have said that with each new mutation, the virus is likely to become more infectious.
A recent Business Standard analysis revealed that the rising number of Covid-19 cases has so far not been accompanied by an increase in the number of daily deaths attributed to the virus.
Hospital occupancies continue to be low — only 1.1 per cent of Chennai’s hospital beds are currently occupied. It is 2.3 per cent in Delhi and 2.6 per cent in Mumbai.