Health ministry has a 5-step plan for states to contain COVID spike

Forty-six high-burden districts which had logged maximum number of new Covid cases and deaths were identified. At a high-level meet, states and UTs were instructed to strengthen stringent containment measures

The government has warned the states about the public's laxity in following Covid protocols. Only 44% wear masks, said a study. Representational image: PTI

Amid a significant spike in COVID-19 cases and emergence of double mutated strains of the virus, a five-step strategy to contain the spread has been proposed at a high-level meeting chaired by the Union Health Secretary, Rajesh Bhushan on Saturday. Twelve States and Union Territories, including affected states such as Maharashtra, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Karnataka, Punjab and Delhi, participated in this meeting.

The five step plan involves scaling up testing in a big way, ensure people who contract the virus isolate and contact tracing is done, to boost and invigorate tired healthcare workers, make sure public scrupulously follow Covid protocols and lastly, the targeted approach to vaccination should be vigorously pursued.

Forty-six “high-burden districts”, which had caused 71% of all new Covid cases (and 69% of all deaths) this month, had been identified and the states and UTs in the meeting were instructed to strengthen “stringent containment and public health measures”, reported NDTV. The most number of new cases, 59.8% had come from 25 districts in Maharashtra, the worst-effected state in the country.

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The government was concerned about the growing negligence among the public in observing Covid protocols. The results of a study which showed that 44% of the public neglect to wear masks was discussed, and the government said that one infected person could spread COVID-19 to an average of 406 people in a 30-day window without restrictions.

This should be brought down to 15 by decreasing physical exposure, suggested the government.

The government has cause for concern since the past 24 hours on Saturday, 62,000 new coronavirus cases were reported across the country – a 5.3 per cent jump from Friday. It is also the biggest single-day spike in five months.

Not surprisingly, Maharashtra accounted for over half of these cases logging nearly 37,000 cases. Other states to report steep daily figures were Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh. Delhi logged over 1,500 cases for the second straight day. Gujarat and Haryana both saw over 2,000 cases and Punjab over 3,000.

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The health ministry has been rushing medical expert teams to Chandigarh and Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Punjab to help curb the virus. As the government is battling with the renewed rise in cases, it also has to deal with the discovery of a double mutated strain of COVID-19. However, the government has clarified that as of now they cannot say if the spike is due to the new mutated strains.