Amid a spurt in Covid cases in China and some other countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday cautioned people against complacency and urged them to wear masks in crowded places, while also directing officials to strengthen surveillance measures, especially at international airports.
At a high-level meeting, Modi reiterated that 'Covid is not over yet' and advised states to audit Covid-specific facilities to ensure operational readiness of hospital infrastructure, including oxygen cylinders, PSA plants, ventilators and human resources.
Prime Minister Modi urged everyone to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, including wearing masks in crowded public places, at all times, especially in view of the upcoming festive season, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
He also urged that precaution dose may be encouraged especially for vulnerable and elderly groups.
During the meeting to assess the COVID-19 situation in the country, preparedness of health infrastructure and logistics, status of the vaccination campaign in the country and the emergence of new variants and their public health implication, Modi directed officials to ramp up testing and also genomic sequencing efforts.
States have been asked to share a larger number of samples with the designated INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories (lGSLs) for genome sequencing on a daily basis, the PMO said.
This will support timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country and facilitate undertaking requisite public health measures, it said.
Prime Minister Modi cautioned against complacency and advised strict vigil.
He reiterated that 'Covid is not over yet' and directed officials to strengthen the ongoing surveillance measures, especially at international airports, the statement said.
Modi stressed on the need to ensure that entire Covid infrastructure at all levels is maintained at a high level of preparedness in terms of equipment, processes and human resources.
The prime minister also advised states to audit Covid-specific facilities to ensure operational readiness of hospital infrastructure, including oxygen cylinders, PSA plants, ventilators and human resources, the statement said.
This high-level review meeting chaired by Modi comes in the backdrop of spike in Covid cases in some countries.
In a tweet, Modi said, "Chaired a meeting to review the public health response to COVID-19. Stressed on ramping up testing, genome sequencing and to ensure operational readiness of COVID infrastructure."
"Also emphasised on the need to follow COVID appropriate behaviour," he said.
A comprehensive presentation was made at the meeting regarding the global Covid situation, including the rising cases in countries, by the health secretary and the member (health) at the NITI Aayog.
Prime Minister Modi was briefed that India has been witnessing a steady decline in cases with average daily cases falling to 153 and weekly positivity down to 0.14 per cent in the week ending December 22.
However, 5.9 lakh daily average cases have been reported globally since the last six weeks.
Modi was informed that there is adequate availability with regard to medicines, vaccines and hospital beds.
He also advised regular monitoring of prices and availability of essential medicines.
Highlighting the globally appreciated work of frontline healthcare workers, Prime Minister Modi exhorted them to continue working in the same selfless and dedicated manner, according to the statement.
The meeting was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Bharati Pravin Pawar, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister PK Mishra, NITI Aayog CEO Parameswaran Iyer, Member (Health) NITI Aayog V K Paul, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Advisor PMO Amit Khare, Home Secretary A K Bhalla, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, among others.
The meeting came on a day several states such as Uttar Pradesh and Delhi also conducted a review of the Covid situation.
Earlier in the day, Madaviya made a statement in Parliament and said India has started two per cent random sampling of international travellers coming to the country and may consider making it mandatory for all if necessary.
He made the remarks while responding to queries of some Opposition MPs after his suo moto statement in Rajya Sabha on the latest COVID-19 situation and India's preparedness.
In his statement, Mandaviya said that in the recent days there have been reports of rise in COVID-19 cases in many countries such China, Japan, South Korea, the US, France, Greece and Italy.