PM Modi pitches NCR model for 10 hardest hit states

Updated on Aug 12, 2020 12:45 AM IST

The meeting was attended by chief ministers of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu – some of the most populous states of the country – and four others that together account for 80% of the active Covid cases and 82% of fatalities due to the viral disease.

According to health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, the PM said the states must focus on containment and surveillance, tracking and testing of close contacts of any infected person within 72 hours, and ramping up testing further to bring down the test positivity rate.(ANI)
According to health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, the PM said the states must focus on containment and surveillance, tracking and testing of close contacts of any infected person within 72 hours, and ramping up testing further to bring down the test positivity rate.(ANI)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondents, New

Prime Minister Narendra Modi cited on Tuesday the Covid-19 response in the National Capital Region (NCR), including Delhi, to urge the chief ministers of the 10 hardest-hit states to focus on three particular areas that he said would help track, contain and mitigate the outbreak – strategies that he said are crucial to defeat the virus across the country.

The meeting was attended by chief ministers of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu – some of the most populous states of the country – and four others that together account for 80% of the active Covid cases and 82% of fatalities due to the viral disease.

“If we defeat the coronavirus in these states, India will win the battle against the virus,” Modi said, according to a transcript of his remarks at the meeting, where he also praised the efforts by authorities and health workers across the country.

According to health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, the PM said the states must focus on containment and surveillance, tracking and testing of close contacts of any infected person within 72 hours, and ramping up testing further to bring down the test positivity rate.

“We have seen that increasing testing helps us identify and contain the spread... And once we increase testing even further, we will see that the goal of bringing the fatality rate below 1% will be achievable,” Modi said, according to the government release, after noting that daily tests have now risen above the 700,000 level.

Bhushan, who held a press briefing separately, said the PM particularly urged Bihar, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Telangana to ramp up testing. Bihar, at 9,180 tests per million, has the lowest testing rate in the country, HT’s dashboard of Covid-19 statistics showed. The per million testing in Gujarat was 14,973, UP 14,266, West Bengal 11,683 and Telangana 16,788 -- all under the national average of 18,968 tests per million.

“The health ministry believes that even if a state is carrying out tests above the recommended per million population threshold but the positivity rate is high, they must increase tests even further to bring the proportion down to under 5% or 10%,” Bhushan said.

As on Tuesday, India has at least 2.32 million confirmed coronavirus infections, the third highest number of cases after the United States and Brazil. On an average over the past week, there have been at least 58,000 cases every day in India -- the highest in the world -- and emerging hot spots in the five aforementioned states are turning into a particular worry.

The health ministry official, however, said new recovery and mortality figures suggest that the situation has largely improved in the country. “We have in recent days carried out a record number of tests and our case fatality rate has come down below 2% for the first time,” Bhushan said.

Delhi, which is among the few regions to have crossed its peak of the outbreak, reported a test positivity rate of 6.5% on Tuesday. At its peak, the figure was 35% on June 11 in the national capital.

According to the government release, the Prime Minister recounted the experience of the Union home minister in preparing a response roadmap along with the governments of Delhi and other NCR region states, which showed that containment strategies such as segregation of containment zones and improved screening of people in high risk category were the best way to combat the disease. “The results of these steps are there for all to see... steps like better management in hospitals and increasing ICU beds also proved very helpful,” the release cited the PM as saying.

“We understand the disease better and what works and what doesn’t work in terms of Covid-19 treatment. Earlier we were losing patients because there were not many options. Like today we know steroids work very well in saving lives. Better knowledge has led to more lives being saved in hospitals,” said Dr Srikant Sharma, senior consultant, medicine department, Moolchand Hospital.

Some of the chief ministers who attended the meeting also raised concerns that they said were hampering the response against the virus. Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said her state was yet to receive over 57,000 crore in financial dues from the Union government.

Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray urged the Union government to rethink an issue connected with education, reiterating the state’s demand to declare students in final year of college to be deemed as automatically graduated on the basis of their past performance. The higher education regulator University Grants Commission is against any such move, which has also been announced by states such as Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Delhi. The matter is currently before the Supreme Court.

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