‘Mask up,’ says NITI Aayog as China Covid surge alarms India – 7 key things to know

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya huddled with top officials and health experts to take stock of the Covid situation in the country.

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The government urged people to wear masks in crowded areas. (Image/Reuters)

With China reporting a sharp spike in Covid cases claiming lives of five persons that rattled across the world, NITI Aayog advised people to take the jab and wear masks in crowded places. A high-level meeting, including Union Health Minister, was held on Wednesday to evolve strategy to fend off a surge in India.  

Meeting with minister

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya huddled with top officials and health experts to take stock of the Covid situation in the country. After the meeting, the minister tweeted: “In view of the rising cases of Covid-19 in some countries, I reviewed the situation with experts and officials today. Covid is not over yet. I have directed all concerned to be alert and strengthen surveillance. We are prepared to manage any situation,” Mandaviya said in a tweet.

‘Not to panic’

Following a review meeting held by the Union Health Minister,  NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul urged people not to panic. He said that people should wear masks when they visit crowded areas and added: “People having comorbidities or are elderly should especially adhere to Covid guidelines.” The secretaries of health, Ayush, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Rajiv Bahl, department of pharmaceutical, department of Biotechnology, and National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) chairman Dr N K Arora joined the meeting among others.

Genome sequencing

In the face of surging Covid cases globally, especially in China, the Central government on Tuesday had urged all states and Union Territories to jack up the genome sequencing of Covid positive samples to keep close eyes on emerging variants. In a letter to states and UTs, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said whole genome sequencing of Covid positive samples would help detect newer variants, if any, circulating in the country. It will help the authority concerned to take requisite public health measures to checkmat the cases. 

‘Letter politics’ 

Mandaviya urged Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot to strictly follow Covid guidelines during the Bharat Jodo Yatra. In a letter addressed to the Congress leaders, the Union Health Minister requested them to follow Covid protocols, including the use of masks and sanitisers, during the march and only those who are vaccinated be allowed to participate. Hitting back at the government, the Congress said the BJP was organising Yatras in Karnataka and Rajasthan and asked if the Health Minister had sent letters to their organisers too. All India Congress Committee general secretary (communication) Jairam Ramesh asked the BJP not to play politics on the matter.

Gloomy picture for China

According to different sets of data modelling, China may be facing a huge Covid death toll after it lifted its stringent zero-Covid policy. The Economist reported that around 1.5 million Chinese could die based on its model that calculates the trajectory of the country’s Covid outbreak under different situations. According to PTI, The Lancet’ journal recently quoted an analysis by Airfinity, a UK-based science information and analytics company, that somewhere between 1.3 and 2.1 million people could die from Cocid-19 after China re-opens.

Delhi on alert

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal directed the health dept to increase genome sequencing of samples and take other steps needed to meet any eventuality. The Delhi government is keeping a close track on the Covid situation in the national capital.  

India’s Covid tally

According to media reports, Covid tally in India increased to 4,46,76,330 to date (December 21). The fresh infections pegged at 131, while the number of active cases slid to 3,408. The active cases account for 0.01 per cent of the total infections. The national Covid-19 recovery rate spiraled to 98.80 per cent. As many as 220.01 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been inoculated in India so far. 90,94,00,177 samples were tested up to December 20 for, of which 1,15,734 samples were tested on Tuesday, reported ICMR.

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First published on: 21-12-2022 at 19:46 IST