Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare today interacted with Principal Secretaries and Mission Directors (National Health Mission) of all major States and reviewed the progress of COVID-19 vaccination in these States. He underlined that the immediate milestone in India’s COVID-19 vaccination journey is the completion of administration of 100 Crore doses. India has so far administered 94 Crore Vaccine doses.
Dr. Mandaviya noted that Festivals usually synonymous with auspiciousness, joy and large gatherings, if not done in accordance to COVID protocols can derail the containment of COVID-19. “The twin pronged solution is to follow COVID protocols very strictly and speeding up of vaccination,” he stated. He cited results of experiments that pegged the number of 1st dose recipients not developing severe COVID-19 to be 96% and further pointed out that the number increases to nearly 98% for people who have taken both doses of the vaccine.
Observing that more than 8 Cr balance doses are physically available with States, he enquired regarding the specific hurdles, if any, faced by the States in increasing their pace of vaccination and the consequent vaccine coverage among the target population. Many States are nearing saturation of coverage in urban areas and are also catering to the floating population in the city. Similarly, labour and time intensive door to door vaccination is being undertaken in some geographically aloof pockets where first dose coverage is nearing saturation. States like Uttar Pradesh undertaking mass vaccination drives pointed out the comparatively limited supply of Covaxin and its shorter span between the doses as a rate inhibiting factor.
In consultation with the States, the Minister exhorted each State to increase their target so that the administration of the last 6 Cr doses for reaching the mark of 100 Cr is achieved in the next few days.
Union Health Secretary Shri Rajesh Bhushan urged all the State health administrators to be strict with regard to 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 which were issued vide Ministry’s letter on 21st September 2021.
The following guidelines have so far been issued to the states and were re-iterated in the meeting:
- No Mass gatherings in areas identified as Containment Zones & in districts reporting more than 5% case positivity.
- Gatherings with advance permissions & limited people (as per local context) to be allowed in districts with a positivity rate of 5% & below.
- Relaxations and restrictions to be imposed based on weekly case positivity.
- States to closely monitor the case trajectories across all districts daily to identify any early warning signals and shall ensure imposition of restrictions and adherence to COVID appropriate behaviour accordingly.
- People to be strongly discouraged from physical visits and intermingling.
- Provision for “online darshans” and virtual celebrations to be encouraged.
All rituals like Effigies burning, Durga Puja pandal, “dandia”, “garbas” and “Chhatt Puja” should be symbolic.
Regulation of the number of people allowed to participate in gatherings/ processions.
Separate entry and exit points at places of worships and use of common prayer mats, offering of “Prasad”, sprinkling of holy water, etc. to be avoided.
The meeting also discussed prompt utilization of Emergency COVID Response Package (ECRP) II financial resources provided to the States.