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    At High-Level Meet Centre Reveals 5-Step Plan To Tackle Spike In Covid Cases

    Coronavirus: India has reported over 1.18 crore Covid cases since December 2019 (File)

    New Delhi:

    The Union Health Secretary on Saturday chaired a high-level meeting with 12 states and union territories – including Maharashtra, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Karnataka, Punjab and Delhi – to discuss the alarming spike in Covid cases across the country.

    At the meeting a five-step strategy – “exponential increase in testing, effective isolation and contact tracing, re-invigoration of healthcare workers (to counter fatigue after spending the past year fighting the virus and treating patients) ensuring the public follows Covid protocols, and targeted approach to vaccination” – was introduced to help deal with the increase in cases.

    Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told states and UTs present that 46 “high-burden districts” had been identified and advised them to focus on “stringent containment and public health measures”.

    States and UTs were told these 46 districts had contributed 71 per cent of all new Covid cases (and 69 per cent of all deaths) this month. Mr Bhushan also said that of the 36 districts in Maharashtra – the worst-affected state – 25 accounted for 59.8 per cent of all new cases in the past week.

    The results of a study on public compliance to Covid protocols was also discussed; the study revealed that only 44 per cent of the people wear face masks when in public.

    “One infected person could spread COVID-19 to an average of 406 in a 30-day window without restrictions, which could be reduced to 15 by decreasing physical exposure… ,” a statement said.

    This morning over 62,000 new coronavirus cases were reported across the country in the preceding 24 hours – a 5.3 per cent increase from Friday and the biggest single-day spike in five months.

    Maharashtra accounted for over half of these – nearly 37,000 cases. Other states to report high daily figures were Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh. Delhi logged over 1,500 cases for a second straight day. Gujarat and Haryana both saw over 2,000 cases and Punjab over 3,000.

    On Friday the Health Ministry rushed teams of medical experts to Chandigarh and Chhattisgarh to deal with increasing cases. A few days earlier teams were sent to Maharashtra and Punjab.

    Concern over the surge in cases also comes as several states – particularly those seeing a spike now – are prepping for Assembly elections over the next few weeks. Bengal and Assam held the first phase of polls today, with Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry all set to vote on April 6.

    The increase in cases also comes on the back of the discovery of a “double mutated” strain of the coronavirus, in addition to other mutated versions.

    The government has said it is too early to confirm if the spike is because of the mutated strains. Instead, it has flagged a growing laxity in adhering to Covid protocols as a reason for the increase.

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