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Modi concerned as Covid caseload spikes in India

Modi concerned as Covid caseload spikes in India

dpa
New Delhi
India was facing a challenging situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Thursday as the country recorded its highest daily spike of 126,000 new coronavirus cases.
The worst-hit state of Maharashtra which has been seeing at least 50 percent of these cases daily has reported dwindling intensive care unit (ICU) beds earmarked for Covid-19 patients as well as stocks of oxygen cylinders and a drug used to treat critical patients.
Maharashtra, along with at least four other states, has also reported an imminent shortage of vaccines and several vaccination centres remained closed on Thursday, NDTV news channel reported.
India has the world’s third-largest coronavirus caseload, after the United States and Brazil, with 12.9 million cases and a total of 166,862 deaths.
The country saw a consistent downward trend of Covid-19 cases between October and mid-February. Since then, daily infections have jumped from a little over 9,000 to over 100,000.
Modi was speaking on Thursday at a meeting with chief ministers of regional governments to discuss measures to control the deteriorating situation.
The rise in cases was a cause of concern and extreme vigilance was needed over the next two to three weeks, Modi said.
Modi said people had become casual and also asymptomatic people were infecting others. The path forward was to aggressively test, track and treat, he said. “We need to respond to this pandemic on a war footing.” Without specifically stating so, the prime minister ruled out the possibility of a countrywide lockdown saying the focus had to be on maintaining strict containment zones at the micro-local level.
India had introduced one of the world’s strictest lockdowns last March but had eased it from the end of May and is still reeling from its economic impact.
Reacting to reports of short vaccine supply and the need to open up the programme to younger people, Modi said that a lot of effort is required to develop new vaccines and increase manufacturing capacity but attention was being given to both.
The vaccination programme rolled out in January has so far managed to inoculate 94 million people with a first dose, and only 11.8 million of them have received the second dose in the country of 1.3 billion.
The government had said it aims to vaccinate 300 million health workers and people aged above 45 by June-July. The federal government acquires the two regulator-approved vaccines from their manufacturers and then supplies them to local governments.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope earlier said the supply of vaccine with the state would last for only three to four days.
Odisha, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have also complained of low stocks.
“We have to prioritize our resources,” Modi said. “We have won the battle before - and without vaccines - we can do it again.” The federal government was analysing the need for infrastructure like ambulances, ventilators, oxygen supply, and they would be made available, he said.

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