Centre warns people of Covid surge during festival, wedding season
New Delhi: "Please watch your October, November, December," a senior Health Ministry official warned people on Thursday about the threat of COVID-19 resurgence during the coming festival and wedding season, and advised them to avoid crowded places and celebrate festivals virtually.
Asserting repeatedly that the second wave of the pandemic is not over, the government said that though the situation is plateauing, the country is still reporting as high as 20,000-odd new infections every day.
"We cannot take the current stable situation for granted. We have to be mindful of the fact that the pandemic is going on and can take an untoward turn if we are not careful," NITI Aayog member (Health) V K Paul said.
Warning people about the threat of COVID-19 resurgence during the coming festivals such as Dussehra, Diwali, Durga Puja, Milan-un-Id and Christmas and wedding season, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said at a press conference, "Please watch your October, November, December."
While overall COVID-19 positivity across the country gives comfort, Agarwal pointed out that there are still a large number of districts reporting high case positivity.
He said five states -- Mizoram, Kerala, Sikkim, Manipur and Meghalaya -- are reporting a weekly positivity rate of more than five per cent.
Thirty-four districts across nine states and union territories are reporting a weekly positivity rate of more than 10 per cent, while 28 districts across 12 states and UTs are reporting a weekly positivity rate between 5 and 10 per cent, he informed.
Surge in cases globally aggravates the ongoing concern related with COVID-19 management, Agarwal said, adding around 4.54 lakh cases are being reported on an average daily globally.
Stating there has been global evidence of surge followed by unhindered public gatherings at various events in the UK, Russia and the Netherlands, Agarwal advised people to avoid crowded places and unnecessary travel and to stay home, celebrate festivals virtually and explore online modes of shopping.
Sustained efforts by the community is the key for successful pandemic management, he said.
Paul said, "In three months -- October, November and December -- we will take the vaccination forward. This is our aim. We saw that when in other countries...complacency was observed it led to paying a high price."
In the US, still 1,500-2,000 daily cases are being reported, he said.
"If we compare it with our population then it is 300 per million and if it was 333 then it would have been as many as the second peak seen in India. This shows that we cannot take any risk in this delta variant times. If we look at the UK then there are more than 40,000 cases per day and their population is just 7 crore...the infection is spreading at more intensity there than our second wave," Paul said.
Lastly, some states have a 21 per cent positivity rate and 1,000 cases in a small state like Mizoram are worrying, he highlighted.
The tools of tackling it are known -- testing, tracking, treatment and vaccination.
"We are in touch with them to bring the situation under control but it shows that some geographies can be there where behaviour of pandemic is different from that of the rest of the country.
"In Kerala too the positivity (rate) is 13.72 per cent, which is very high and more than 60 per cent cases are coming from there so we are together trying to control the pandemic and there is a need to bring more intensity into it," he said.
The government said that Kerala recorded 50 per cent of the total coronavirus cases in the country last week.
Kerala has over over lakh active cases currently and the figure in four other states is ranging between 10,000 and 50,000.
The government said 71 per cent of India's adult population have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 27 per cent have got both doses.
On Zydus Cadila's vaccine roll-out, Paul said preparations are going on for it and required training is moving forward at various levels.
"...this vaccine is administered not conventionally using a syringe and a needle but with an applicator and that will be used for the first time in the country and bringing that training to conclusion is a huge task and work in that direction is going on," he said.
Listing its preparations to tackle any surge in coronavirus infections, the government said 8.36 lakh hospital beds are currently available in the country for COVID-19 patients, in addition to nearly one million isolation beds in dedicated care centres.
It said 4.86 oxygen-supported beds and 1.35 lakh ICU beds are also available.
Paul said, "The dynamics of the virus after vaccination and infection which can lead to herd immunity...we do not have a straight formula for that. As one can see, despite the administration of vaccines, cases are being reported and we are still learning. The preparation will be of the level to make us safe. We move with preparation of 4.5 to 5 lakh cases per day surge, but it does not mean that it will happen, should happen or may happen."
Paul further said there is no issue of vaccine availability in the country now.
With 22,431 people testing positive for coronavirus infection in a day, India's total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 3,38,94,312, according to the Union Health Ministry's data updated on Thursday.
The death toll climbed to 4,49,856 with 318 fresh fatalities, according to the data updated at 8 am.