Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday spoke individually to the chief ministers of Punjab, Bihar, Karnataka and Uttarakhand to review the COVID-19 situation in each state, central government sources said.
This morning Karnataka – one of the states worst affected by the second Covid wave – reported 47,563 new cases in 24 hours, to take its active caseload to nearly 5.5 lakh.
Bihar reported 12,948 new cases, Punjab 9,042 and Uttarakhand 8,390 in the same period. Active cases in Punjab and Uttarakhand are over 70,000, and in Bihar it is around 1.13 lakh.
Over the past days the Prime Minister has had separate phone calls with the leaders of the worst-affected states and UTs, and has been briefed about measures taken to break the chain of transmission in each.
On Saturday the Prime Minister spoke to the leaders of four other states – Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. Earlier he also spoke to Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, but that conversation prompted sharp reactions after Mr Soren’s dig at PM Modi.
On Saturday the centre said it had revised the national policy for hospitalisation of Covid suspected cases; a Covid-positive report is not needed to admit people and “no patient will be refused”.
The crisis has also triggered an acute shortage in oxygen supply, which was the subject of an intense Supreme Court hearing. The top court has set up a 12-member task force to conduct an audit of oxygen production and supply in the country.
India is scrambling to contain a devastating second Covid wave that has seen it report more than four lakh new cases in each of the past four days, and more than three lakh a day since April 22.
Active cases across the country are now over 36.5 lakh – nearly four times more than the previous record, which was set in September last year during the first wave.
The frightening surge in cases over the past few months – a phenomenon experts say may be linked to violation of Covid safety norms during election rallies and mass gatherings at religious events like the mega Kumbh in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar – has been noticed by the global community.
On Saturday international medical journal The Lancet said the India had “squandered” its early successes in controlling COVID-19, and that Prime Minister Modi’s government could preside over “a self-inflicted national catastrophe”, and urged it to start “owning up to its mistakes”.
The publication also slammed India’s vaccination policy, calling it “botched” and “falling apart” at the central level, and noted that less than 2 per cent of the population had been vaccinated so far.
This morning India reported 4.03 lakh cases and more than 4,000 Covid-related deaths in 24 hours.