Centre raises Covid norm violations with states, warns them against complacency

In a letter to all states and Union Territories, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said complacency at this juncture has the potential to result in another surge in COVID-19 cases.
People wait to get inoculated against COVID-19 at vaccination center in Mumbai, India, Thursday, July 15, 2021. (Photo | AP)
People wait to get inoculated against COVID-19 at vaccination center in Mumbai, India, Thursday, July 15, 2021. (Photo | AP)

NEW DELHI/CHANDIGARH : On a day India registered a rise of over 2,000 active Covid-19 cases in 24 hours, after nearly two months, the Union Health Secretary shot a letter to the states, warning that a complacency in maintaining norms, as is being witnessed in many states, may lead to surges. 

The country on Thursday reported a net addition of 2,095 in active coronavirus cases to take its count to 432,041. Active Covid-19 cases in India had reached a peak of over 37 lakh on May 10, but the tally have been falling ever since except for a small spike of about 500 cases on July 7. 

“Violations of Covid norms have been observed in various parts of the country, especially in public transport, hill stations, markets etc,” read the letter by Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan to states. “Needless to say, such complacency at this juncture has the potential to result in another surge in Covid-19 cases.”

Bhushan asked the states to adhere to the policy of test-track-treat-vaccinate in addition to maintaining Covid appropriate behaviour, saying that the country should not lose the invaluable momentum gained in its battle against the infectious disease, which created havoc in the second wave, especially in April and May this year.

The letter by Bhushan follows another one to the states from Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla on Wednesday, in which he had pointed out a rising ‘R’ factor in several states.  ‘R’ factor refers to the reproduction rate which denotes the number of people getting infected by one infected person. If the value of the ‘R’ factor is above 1, it means that one infected person can spread the infection to more than one person, which suggests that the infection is spreading.

“You may be aware that any increase in R factor above 1.0 is an indicator of spread of Covid-19. Therefore, it is important that the authorities concerned shall be made responsible for ensuring Covid appropriate behaviour in all crowded places...,” Bhalla’s letter had said. Biostatistician Bhramar Mukherjee from the Michigan University had calculated that as on July 10, India’s ‘R’ factor had risen to 0.9 after touching a low of 0.65 last month and at least in seven states, including Kerala and several Northeast states, this value was above the danger level of 1. 

This newspaper has found out that in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh too, ‘R’ factor has been increasing, giving rise to fresh worries about the Covid-19 pandemic rearing its head again.
Sources said that while ‘R’ value started to drop from the second week of May in the region and reached close to 0.50, it is now  nearly 0.76 in Punjab, 0.84 in Haryana, 0.82 in Himachal Pradesh and 0.71 in Chandigarh. 

Meanwhile, on the rise in active cases, health economist Rijo M John said that this figure has to be watched closely for the next few days. “It’s too early to see a trend and if the number of active cases keep growing for three consecutive days, that would clearly be an alarm bell,” he said, adding that in Kerala, the cases are showing a rising trend. On the other hand, the ‘R’ factor was reported to be low in Rajasthan. Officials said it has been around 0.88 of late.

Health secretary’s letter
Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan has written to the states on the importance of Covid-appropriate behaviour and said that violations are noticed in public transport, hill stations, markets and other places

Sumi sukanya dutta and Harpreet bajwa

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