States have to take “quick, decisive” steps to stop the emerging second peak of Covid-19, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, urging chief ministers to adopt the test, track and treat as they stop wastage of vaccines.
“The confidence we have gained in reaching this point in our fight against the pandemic should not turn to negligence. While we do not want to create any panic, we have to take steps to rid ourselves of this trouble,” Modi said in a virtual address called as Covid-19 cases rise in states.
While more than 96 per cent of the cases in India have recovered, the government is concerned over the high test positivity rate in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Seventy districts of the country witnessed 150 per cent rise in cases in the last few weeks.
Modi asked the chief ministers to scale up RT-PCR testing in their states to detect cases in a timely manner and create micro containment zones to contain the transmission of the virus. “The RT-PCR testing rate has to be over 70 per cent….Why is it that some states are seeing a reduction in testing? This is a test of good governance,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister also pulled up local administration of states for getting lax about enforcing Covid-appropriate behaviour such as wearing masks. “We need the same seriousness we had last year. Any gaps in planning and governance have to be fixed.”
With travel across the country and from abroad now open, Modi said there was a need to improve interstate coordination for proper tracing and tracking of contacts. “If required a new mechanism can be created for this.”
Concerned over the increase in cases in smaller tier one and two cities, Modi said that if the disease were to spread to villages then the available health facilities could fall short in meeting the challenge. “So far we have managed to keep the villages out (of the pandemic). We need to pay special attention to the referral system and strengthen our ambulance network in smaller cities,” Modi said.
He also asked the states to reorient the pandemic response staff SOPs for containment and contact tracing. “We have to strategize by incorporating our past experiences, in our efforts. Same seriousness that we had last year is required now.”
“You don’t go out without woolens in chilly weather even if you have taken medicine for a cold…It is a simple thing that people should be explained,” he said, repeating his slogan of “Dawai bhi, kadai bhi” (Need cure and strictness against Covid-19).
He cautioned states to stay vigilant about the vaccine expiry date and ensure they use the vaccine in the order they receive them.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, chief ministers of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Nagaland and other states attended the meeting.