Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting on Thursday to review the efforts to combat COVID-19 and Omicron strain and emphasised the need to be "satark" and "saavdhan" in view of the new variant.
He said the fight against the pandemic is not over and the need for continued adherence to COVID safe behaviour is of paramount importance even today.
"In view of the new variant, we should be 'satark' (alert) and 'saavdhan' (cautious)," the Prime Minister said.
He directed officials to ensure that the health systems in the states, beginning from the district level, are strengthened to meet any challenge posed by the new variant.
The Prime Minister said that states need to ensure that the eligible population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and to proceed to meet the target in a saturation mode.
It is important for states to ensure that the oxygen supply equipments are installed and fully functional, he told officials.
He gave directions for sending a good number of positive samples for genome sequencing to INSACOG Labs in a prompt manner.
PM Modi also gave directions for accelerating the testing to ensure quick identification of cases for timely containment and treatment.
Focus should also be on effective contact tracing for curbing spread of the transmission, he said and directed officials that the Central Government should send teams to states with low vaccination, rising cases, insufficient health infrastructure to assist them improve the situation.
The Prime Minister reviewed public health response measures for containment and management of COVID-19, strengthening of health infrastructure including availability of drugs, oxygen cylinders and concentrators, ventilators, PSA plants, ICU/oxygen supported beds, human resources, IT interventions and status of vaccination.
Officials briefed PM about the emerging scenario globally driven by the new variant, with an overview of surge in cases in countries having high vaccination coverage and presence of Omicron Variant.
After the presentations, PM directed the the officials for maintaining a high level of vigil and alertness at all levels.
According to an official release, he asked the central ministries to work in close coordination with the states to support their efforts of public health measures of containment and management under the 'Whole of Government' approach.
"The strategy of the Centre for proactive, focussed, collaborative and cooperative fight against the pandemic should guide all our future actions," PM Modi told officials.
He directed them to work with the states on a regular basis and review the status of preparedness of various components of health infrastructure including training and capacity building of human resources, timely availability of ambulances, readiness of states to operationalise COVID facilities for institutional quarantining, and effective and supervised monitoring of those in home isolation. He also directed officials for effective use of IT tools for tele-medicine and tele-consultation.
The Prime Minister said that heightened and close monitoring of emerging clusters and hotspots through and active, prompt and effective surveillance should continue.
The Prime Minister was also apprised of the technical brief and priority actions recommended by WHO in the context of Omicron.
A snapshot of the status of COVID-19 and Omicron in the country, including states reporting a higher number of cases, districts reporting higher positivity, and higher number of clusters was presented to Prime Minister. The details of the Omicron cases reported in the country, including their travel history, vaccination status, and recovered status was also presented.
The Prime Minister was briefed of the various actions taken since November 25 this year when the first advisory of the Union Health Ministry was shared with the states.
He was also briefed about the revised travel advisory for international passengers, review meetings with states/UTs on COVID-19 public health response measures, ramping up vaccination and installation of oxygen supply equipment.
The PM was apprised of the progress in vaccination across the country. He was apprised that more than 88 per cent of the eligible population has been administered the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and more than 60 per cent of the eligible population has received the second dose.
Officials said that the door-to-door 'Har Ghar Dastak vaccination campaign' to mobilise and vaccinate people has been able to motivate people to take the COVID 19 vaccine and has shown encouraging results in boosting vaccine coverage.
The meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretary and senior officials from Niti Aayog, ICMR and several minstries including Home Ministry and Health Ministry.