The Union Health Department wrote to five states on Tuesday that reported a daily increase in new coronavirus cases and called on them to speed up vaccination of health workers and frontline workers in districts that have recorded the biggest peaks of fresh infections.
“… grant immunity as soon as possible to health workers and frontline workers, as they are also involved in the containment, surveillance and management of COVID-19 cases,” the letter sent said in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, J&K and Chhattisgarh.
In Maharashtra (the most affected state), vaccinations are to be stepped up in six districts – Pune, Nagpur, Mumbai (and suburban areas), Amravati, Thane and Akola. Overall, Maharashtra has reported more than 6,000 new cases in the past 24 hours, the PTI news agency reported.
In Madhya Pradesh, the districts of Indore, Bhopal and Betul have been identified.
In Punjab, these are SBS Nagar, Kapurthala and Sri Muktsar Sahib.
In J&K Union territory, it is Pulwama and in Chhattisgarh, it is Rajnandgaon.
India began its national vaccination campaign on January 16, with a goal of vaccinating three crores of health workers and frontline workers in the first phase.
However, to date, only around 1.19 million people have been vaccinated.
The second stage of the vaccination – in which 27 million people over the age of 50 (and those under but with comorbidities) – will receive the vaccines in mid-March, the center said.
Earlier today, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan took part in a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office to review the Covid situation in the country. The meeting took place against the backdrop of both increasing cases and concern over the mutated strains circulating in the country.
Last week, a member of the Maharashtra Covid task force told NDTV that 240 new strains had emerged across India, and suggested these could be the reason for the increase in cases.
However, the center said today that it was too early to connect those dots.
Dr VK Paul, member of the government think tank NITI Aayog, said that “to link the occurrence of a viral mutation to the change in disease, further epidemiological information” is needed.
Sources from the Union’s Health Ministry said this morning that between 800 and 900 samples – from Maharashtra and Kerala – had been sent for genome sequencing in the past month.
Samples for genome sequencing – to understand the full genetics of the virus – have also been sought in Punjab and Bengaluru, where just in recent days two apartment complexes have been declared “containment zones” and sealed off.
So far, genome sequencing of nearly 6,000 samples has been completed.
While authorities are still uncertain how many of these new cases (if any, not at all) are from the new mutated strains of the virus, government officials have admitted that India’s genome sequencing has so far been in progress. below the mark and that needs to change. in the next weeks.
Last week, the center also warned the aforementioned states that they must continue to practice appropriate behavior in Covid, including the use of face masks and social distancing in public.
India has so far reported 187 cases of the UK strain of the virus. The South African strain has been detected in six people and the Brazilian variant in one.
With the contribution of PTI
Note: The content and images used in this article is rewritten and sourced from www.ndtv.com