Ahead of festival season, states told to monitor Covid trajectory on daily basis
Ahead of the upcoming festival season in India, the Centre on Saturday instructed states and Union Territories (UTs) to ensure all necessary precautions and effective enforcement for the rule to avoid mass gatherings, especially in congested and closed spaces due to the prevailing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
In a high-level meeting chaired by cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba on Saturday, and attended by officials of states and UTs, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, NITI Aayog member (health) Dr VK Paul and others, states and UTs were told that existing guidelines for malls, local markets and places of worship have to be strictly adhered to, according to a statement issued by the Union health ministry.
“States were urged to undertake effective Information, Education and Communication for promotion of Covid Appropriate Behaviour and Covid safe festivities. They were advised to closely monitor the case trajectories in all districts on a daily basis to identify early warning signals and ensure the imposition of restrictions and adherence to CAB,” the statement added.
Amid concerns about a possible third wave of the pandemic, health experts have voiced concerns about public celebrations and gatherings during festivals, saying they can become super-spreader events. The Centre, on many occasions, has appealed to citizens to abide by Covid-19 norms, celebrate festivals within their families and shop at markets carefully without overcrowding.
Dr Balram Bhargav, the director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said on Thursday, “Festivals are on the anvil and sudden increase in population density creates a very conducive environment for viral spread.” Addressing the health ministry’s briefing on the Covid-19 situation, Dr Bhargav warned that if there is a sudden rise in population density anywhere, it becomes very easy for the virus to spread. “The call of the hour is vaccine acceptance, maintenance of Covid-appropriate behaviour, responsible travel and responsible festivity,” he added.
Meanwhile, during Saturday’s high-level meeting with states and UTs, cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba also referred to examples from other countries which saw multiple peaks and expressed concerns over certain pockets in India reporting high Covid-19 test positivity. He advised state health administrators to undertake a granular analysis of their virus trajectory, ramp up health infrastructure, undertake the stock of essential medicines and augment human resources at the earliest, to meet any potential spike in infections.
For a third consecutive day, India’s daily Covid-19 tally remained above the 30,000-mark as 35,662 new cases were reported on Saturday, taking the caseload to 33,417,390. Saturday’s infection count is 3.5% more than that of Friday’s when 34,403 were detected Covid-19 positive.