Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday evening (January 9) took stock of the COVID situation in the country by calling a high-level meeting, which was attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and other top officials.
The meeting assumes significance mainly because the daily case count touched 1.6 lakh on Sunday morning, a massive rise considering just a week back it was around 27,000 a day. The last time India’s daily tally touched 1.61 lakh was on May 29 last year, when the country was battling the second COVID wave due to the presence of the Delta variant.
The PM’s review meeting was also important because the Election Commission of India (ECI) has declared dates for assembly elections in five states, namely Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa. The voting will be held between February 10 and March 7. Estimates suggest the recent spike in COVID will peak in the middle of February.
Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra has banned all political rallies till January 15 while clamping restrictions on gatherings, door-to-door campaigns, nukkad sabhas, among others.
Chandra said that holding polls in the given situation is indeed a challenge, but the decision was taken after detailed discussions with all stakeholders. In fact, all political parties are in favour of holding the polls with appropriate COVID behaviour and protocols.
As a first step, the EC has declared that everyone on polling duty will be considered as frontline worker and administered booster shots.
Prime Minister Modi last called a COVID review meeting on December 24. Then he had asked officials to stay ‘satark’ (alert) and ‘saavdhaan’ (vigilant’).