NEW DELHI: Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Monday said India hoped to get the vaccine for Covid-19 at any time in the new year, but stressed that Covid-appropriate behaviour was still the best bet against containing the pandemic in the country.
Vardhan made the statement during a virtual meeting with the health ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana and West Bengal as he reviewed the Covid-19 situation in these states.
The Union minister praised the states for their handling of the pandemic and said India performed better than developed nations.
These states have been reporting a rise in the number of cases, high average daily cases on a seven-day average, decline in testing, high rate of mortality within the first 24/48/72 hours of hospitalisation, high doubling rate and higher death among the vulnerable population groups.
Vardhan reiterated the need to be extra cautious in the coming winter and the long festive season saying, they poses a significant risk that could threaten the gains made against Covid-19 so far.
“We all need to be more vigilant for the entire festive season that started with Dussehra and would continue onto Diwali, Chhat Puja, Christmas and then onto Makar Sankranti in the next year. Respiratory virus also spreads rapidly in the winter months,” an official statement quoted Vardhan as saying.
Vardhan informed the meeting that of the total active cases in the country, only 0.44 per cent were on ventilator support, 2.47 per cent in ICU and just 4.13 per cent occupied oxygen-supported beds, according to a Health Ministry statement.
He, however, said the nine states and some districts there have been reporting a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, high average daily cases on a weekly average, decline in testing, high rate of mortality within the first 24 or 48 or 72 hours of hospitalisation, high doubling rate and higher death among the vulnerable population.
Vardhan said the trajectory of the disease was being monitored personally by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"The prime minister has held intense discussions with all chief ministers and Head of UTs. His latest address was only of 10 minutes but had the important message of continued adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour and its transformation to a Jan Andolan (people's movement)."
The state ministers shared a brief snapshot of the actions taken for containment, surveillance and treatment. They also highlighted the best practices being followed, the statement added.
Sharing the nation's journey in the fight against the pandemic, he said the number of laboratories increased from one in January to 2,074 now and the testing capacity has increased to 1.5 million daily.
The Union health minister also spoke about the increased number of general, oxygenated and ICU beds at each level of COVID care hierarchy.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan requested all States to focus on 10 key areas to contain the infecton and gain an upper hand over its trajectory.
These are increasing testing, targeted testing at market-places, workplaces, religious congregations which could have the potential to become super-spreaders, increasing the share of RT-PCR in testing, compulsory testing of symptomatic RAT negatives, completion of contact tracing within the first 72 hours, tracing of an average of 10-15 contacts per new case detected.
National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Director Sujeet K Singh apprised everybody on the trajectory of the coronavirus disease and the public health response efforts in the states.
(With PTI Inputs)