New Delhi: As the festival season approaches, the government on Thursday cautioned against a spike in coronavirus infections and stressed that the call of the hour is vaccine acceptance, maintenance of COVID-19-appropriate behaviour, responsible travel and responsible festivities.
Noting that there is an overall stabilisation in COVID-19 cases, it urged people to be careful in the coming two-three months to retain the gains achieved in the pandemic management so far.
"Overall there is stabilisation in COVID-19 cases and Kerala has also reported a drop in cases. Mizoram is a state of concern but we hope conditions will improve thereby fast vaccination and pandemic response and containment.
"In the coming two-three months, we need to be cautious that there is no upsurge... It is also the period of festivities and also when flu cases rise...we request everyone to be careful and retain the gains that we have achieved (in the pandemic management)," Dr V K Paul, NITI Aayog Member (Health), said at a press briefing.
He also requested every state, district, municipality to be prepared to tackle any surge by giving home care and make preparations in hospitals and human resources and oxygen requirements.
"There is the role of administration and government in this and through our channels, we must give hand-holding, resource building, resource transfer and all that is happening but the society also has to contribute in it. Let us push the vaccination programme that is our real shield going into the future. Those who have not received any dose must get vaccinated," Paul said.
ICMR Director Dr Balram Bhargava said, "Festivals are in the anvil and sudden increase in population density creates a very conducive environment for viral spread. If there is a sudden increase in population density anywhere then the virus finds it very useful to spread so the call of the hour is vaccine acceptance, maintenance of Covid-appropriate behaviour, responsible travel and responsible festivity."
Thirty-four districts in the country are reporting a weekly positivity rate of over 10 per cent and the figure is anything between five and 10 per cent in 32 districts, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.
"For us and for the states where these districts are located they are districts of concern and they are areas where Covid-appropriate behaviour, vaccination, surveillance and testing parameters must be monitored on a strict and effective basis," Bhushan said.
He said Kerala reported 67.79 per cent of India's total COVID-19 cases last week and that it is the only state with more than 1 lakh active cases.
The commissioning of 3,631 PSA plants will produce 4,500 metric tons of medical oxygen and that 1,595 of them are already in operation, he said.
Of the 3,631 plants, 1,491 plants are being commissioned from the central resources and 2,140 from states and other resources.
So far 1,595 PSA plants have been commissioned which are providing 2,088 MT medical oxygen to patients at various hospitals in the country, he said.
The government said 20 per cent of India's adult population have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and 62 per cent have got at least one dose.
Also, 99 per cent of the healthcare workers have received the first dose while 82 per cent of the eligible healthcare workers have taken the second dose.
It said 100 per cent of the frontline workers have been administered the first dose, while 78 per cent of them have been given the second dose.
According to data, the average daily doses administered in a month has increased from 19.69 lakh in May to 39.89 lakh in June, then further to 43.41 lakh in July and to 59.19 lakh in August.
The average daily vaccination in the first 15 days of September has been 74.40 lakh per day, Bhushan said.
On the administration of vaccines by the private sector, Bhushan said there is no earmarked quota for the private sector. There is an indicative percentage of what the government would procure and what would be available for the private sector, so this in effect means that if the private sector is unable to either procure or utilise the earmarked percentage then whatever is the shortfall would also be procured by the government because at the end of the day whatever is produced in the country must be utilised.
On flu cases, Bhushan said that during the rainy season when clean water gets stagnant dengue outbreak takes place.
"Every year, the Centre gives these directions to states on what all they have to do. The states also have sentinel sites that examine samples of dengue patients and those results are shared with the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme and NCDC (National Centre for Disease Control). The treatment is symptomatic...and like every year this year too the Centre had asked states to pay attention to it."
"At present, dengue outbreak news has been received from Delhi, Haryana, UP and WB and Gujarat and Assam. In UP, the Centre had sent a team and UP had also deployed its team and...necessary action is being taken," Bhushan said.
Asked if a new national record in vaccination will be set on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's birthday on Friday, Bhushan said, "We have been running the vaccination programme since January 16 and till all of the country gets vaccinated this programme will continue."
With 30,570 more people testing positive for COVID-19, India's overall infection tally has risen to 3,33,47,325, while the count of active cases has dipped to 3,42,923, according to the Union Health Ministry on Thursday.
The death toll due to the disease has climbed to 4,43,928 with 431 daily fatalities being recorded, according to data updated by the ministry at 8 am.