A day after he cautioned that the second wave of the pandemic is spreading to villages at a rapid place, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday said “states should be encouraged to report their numbers transparently without any pressure of high numbers showing adversely on their efforts”.
With the extent of the spread indicated by data showing that more than 500 districts in the country are reporting a positivity rate of over10%, Modi underlined that localised containment strategies are “the need of hour, specially for states where Test Positivity Rate in districts is high”.
The PM was addressing a high-level meeting on Covid on Saturday, where senior officials gave a detailed presentation on the state- and district-level situation of Covid, testing, oxygen availability, healthcare infrastructure and vaccination roadmap, a statement released by the PMO said.
Among the suggestions made by the PM was that testing be scaled up using both RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT).
Earlier, recognising the lack of RT-PCR facilities in rural India, leading to a delay in reports, states were directed to conduct aggressive RAT for early detection and isolation in rural areas. The ICMR directed states to set up 24X7 testing booths in schools, colleges and community centres in villages and towns. Unlike in case of RT-PCR, no accreditation is required for these facilities.
This is a contrast from the government’s earlier direction that RAT should make up only 30% of total tests, because of the high possibility of false negatives.
At the meeting on Saturday, the PM also told authorities to focus on critical aspects of clinical management to reduce mortality, including a distribution plan for ensuring oxygen supply in rural areas. “The Prime Minister said necessary training should be provided to health workers in the operation of such equipment (oxygen concentrators etc), and power supply should be ensured for smooth operation of such medical devices,” the PMO said.
Modi also directed that ASHA and anganwadi workers be provided “all necessary tools” for containment and surveillance operations. “The PM asked for guidelines to be made available in easy language along with illustrations for home isolation and treatment in rural areas.”
The PM took “serious note” of reports of ventilators provided by the Centre lying unutilised in storage, directing the authorities to undertake an immediate audit of their installation and operation. “The Prime Minister added that refresher training for properly operating ventilators should be provided to healthcare workers if necessary,” the PMO said.
Officials informed the PM that while test positivity rate was gradually decreasing, the recovery rate was rising. “It was discussed that cases which had gone over four lakh per day are now coming down as a result of the efforts by healthcare workers.”
Overall, 3,26,098 new cases were reported throughout the country in the past 24 hours, with 3,890 deaths. On Saturday, India’s total active caseload stood at 36,73,802.