Warning that Covid-19 containment can be interrupted if festivals are not celebrated following protocols, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya urged 19 states to escalate their inoculation pace so that India can achieve administering 100 crore vaccine doses in the next few days.
Reviewing the progress of the Covid-19 vaccination, Mandaviya underlined that the immediate milestone in the country’s vaccination journey is the completion of the administration of 100 Crore doses. Currently, India has administered over 94 crore Covid vaccine doses so far.
He noted that if festivals, synonymous with auspiciousness, joy and large gatherings, are not observed as per Covid protocols, containment of COVID-19 can get derailed.
“The twin-pronged solution is to follow COVID protocols very strictly and speeding up of vaccination,” the minister stated.
Citing the results of experiments that pegged the number of first dose recipients not developing severe COVID-19 to be 96 per cent and further pointing out that the number increases to nearly 98 per cent for people who have taken both doses of the vaccine, he asked the states to ramp up the vaccination drive.
The minister further exhorted each state to increase their target so that the administration of the last six crore doses for reaching the mark of 100 crores is achieved in the next few days.
Union Health Secretary Shri Rajesh Bhushan also urged all the State health administrators to be strict with regard to the observance of COVID Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) during festivities to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak.
He underlined the need to adhere to the detailed SOP for States/ UTs.
Following are the guidelines that are so far been issued to the states and were re-iterated in the meeting:
1) No Mass gatherings in areas identified as Containment Zones & in districts reporting more than 5% case positivity.
2) Gatherings with advance permissions & limited people (as per local context) to be allowed in districts with a positivity rate of 5% & below.
3) Relaxations and restrictions to be imposed based on weekly case positivity.
4) States to closely monitor the case trajectories across all districts daily to identify any early warning signals and shall ensure the imposition of restrictions and adherence to COVID appropriate behaviour accordingly.
5) People to be strongly discouraged from physical visits and intermingling.
6) Provision for “online darshans” and virtual celebrations to be encouraged.
7) All rituals like Effigies burning, Durga Puja pandal, “dandia”, “garbas” and “Chhatt Puja” should be symbolic.
8) Regulation of the number of people allowed to participate in gatherings/ processions.
9) Separate entry and exit points at places of worship and use of common prayer mats, offering of “Prasad”, a sprinkling of holy water, etc. to be avoided.
Meanwhile, officials from Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal took part in the meeting.