The Centre on Tuesday (March 30) warned that the COVID-19 situation in the country is going from bad to worse, and asked states to ensure that everybody above 45 years are vaccinated in vulnerable districts by the end of the next two weeks.
The Centre would start the third phase of vaccination for those above 45 from April 1 onwards.
“Trends show the virus is still very active just when we think we can control it,” VK Paul, chairman of the National Expert Committee on Vaccine Administration said in a letter to states and Union territories.
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Ruling out the theory that connect the surge in cases to discovery of new COVID-19 variants, Paul asked states to implement strict implementation of COVID protocols.
“Use the law, use fine…people need to wear a mask,” he said.
At an earlier meeting with representatives of 46 districts which had reported 70 per cent of the total cases in the last month, the Centre had said that 90 per cent of the COVID-19 deaths are happening among those above 45.
In Tuesday’s meeting the Health Ministry noted that Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, which have been reporting a daily spike in infections, account for 78.56 per cent of the new cases.
“The situation is becoming bad to worse. There is a serious cause for concern. In some states, in particular, there is a huge cause of worry. But no state can be complacent. What the trends show is that the virus is still very active and can penetrate our defences. And when we think we have found ways to control the virus, it strikes back. The active cases, which were above a lakh, is now at 5.4 lakh. Two-thirds are in one particular state. But the fact is that it is a five-time rise,” Dr Paul said.
Paul said while Punjab isn’t doing enough tests or isolating infected individuals, Maharashtra which has 3.37 lakh active cases now has seen a spike in deaths from 32 in February to 118 now.
Five states have recorded a maximum average positivity rate in the past week – Maharashtra (23.44 per cent), Punjab (8.82 per cent), Chhattisgarh (8.24 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (7.82 per cent) and Tamil Nadu (2.50 per cent).
“We emphasize that without contact tracing, quarantining, isolation etc. we cannot contain the virus,” he said pitching to increase the proportion of RT-PCR tests in states.
The COVID taskforce chief urged states to increase the participation of private sector in the Centre’s vaccination drive, while mentioning that the sector accounted only 16.53 per cent of the doses.
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“Do an analysis to understand system-related issues of why deaths happened: whether it was due to late detection (surveillance failure), or late admission, or due to clinical care at the hospital,” he said.