Amid a spike in Covid-19 cases, the Centre on Monday reviewed with states and Union territories the preparedness for pandemic management and the progress of vaccination.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, who chaired the high-level meeting, stressed on ramping up testing with a higher proportion of RT-PCR, and whole genome sequencing of positive samples.
Urging people to follow Covid-19-appropriate behaviour at all times, he stressed the need to increase administration of precaution dose, especially in the vulnerable population group.
The meeting held virtually was attended by Dr V K Paul, member (health), NITI Aayog, Dr Rajiv Bahl, secretary of the department of health research and ICMR director general, and representatives of states and UTs.
Referring to the message of the prime minister at the high-level review meeting held on March 22, the health secretary advised states to be on the alert and ensure preparedness for the Covid-19 management, according to a statement issued by the Union health ministry.
He cautioned states and UTs against any complacency and advised them to follow up on the priorities listed in a joint advisory issued by the department of health research and the department of health and family welfare.
A comprehensive presentation was made covering the global Covid-19 situation and the rising cases in India.
States and UTs were briefed that India has been witnessing an increase in Covid-19 cases with average daily cases rising to 966 in the week ending March 23 from 313 average daily cases in the week ending March 3, and the weekly positivity going up to 1.08 per cent during the same time.
The meeting was informed that the weekly positivity in Maharashtra has gone up to 4.58 per cent as on March 24 from 0.54 per cent in the week ending March 3, the statement said.
In Gujarat, it has increased to 2.17 per cent from 0.07 per cent. In Kerala, the weekly positivity rate shot up to 4.51 from 1.47 per cent. Karnataka witnessed the average weekly positivity rise up to 3.05 per cent from 1.65 per cent, while Delhi has seen the weekly positivity rate rise to 4.25 per cent from 0.53 per cent.
Twenty-two states and UTs are reporting average daily TPM (tests per million) less than the national average. It was also pointed that 24 districts in India are reporting more than 10 per cent weekly positivity in the week ending March 24, while 43 districts are reporting the weekly positivity rate between 5-10 per cent in the same time period.
Bhushan advised states to undertake mock drills across all health facilities on April 10 and 11 to ensure operational readiness of hospital infrastructure, including oxygen cylinders, PSA plants, ventilators, logistics and human resources.
He informed about the status of the last mock drill which was conducted on December 27, the statement said.
The health secretary said that irrespective of the new Covid variants, the approach of "test-track-treat-vaccinate and adherence to COVID-19-appropriate behaviour" continues to remain the tested strategy for the pandemic management.
This would facilitate undertaking of appropriate public health measures, he said.
States were also urged to ensure availability of sufficient designated beds and health workers across the states, enhance community awareness regarding disease and vaccination and regularly update COVID-19 data in the Covid India portal.
Dr V K Paul highlighted the need for an increased vigil due to the prevalence of new variants and the vaccine immunity across the country currently being at a modest level.
Dr Rajiv Bahl encouraged states to ramp up testing, especially RT-PCR tests, and maintain precaution.