India's daily cases of Covid-19 crossed the 40,000 mark today -- biggest jump in nearly four months. The government has now started actively engaging with all state and UT governments, especially those showing an upsurge in daily new cases and with a high caseload of active cases. The government has already asked the states to ensure that people follow COVID-appropriate behaviour like wearing of face masks, maintaining hand hygiene and social distancing.
According to a report published in Hindustan Times which cited preliminary assessments by the Centre, superspreader events like weddings to be blamed for this sudden spike in the number of coronavirus cases in parts of the country. The assessments found laxity on the part of the public in recent months when the outbreak had receded to its lowest levels.
Dr VK Paul, member (health) of NITI Aayog, said that there is still a large section of population that is vulnerable, especially in villages. "We cannot afford to lower our guard at this stage, and should avoid mass gatherings as it can become superspreading events,” the HT report quoted the senior government official as saying.
Paul in the HT report suggested that RT-PCR testing should be increased in districts that are reporting high positivity rate. He had recently said that the pandemic seems shifting to Tier II, Tier III cities and rural areas.
Earlier on Friday, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla in a communication to the chief secretaries of all the states and Union territories, said that the states and UTs have been mandated to take all necessary measures to promote COVID-appropriate behaviour and ensure that people wear face masks, maintain hand hygiene and social distancing. Further, these measures are also included in the National Directives for COVID-19 Management, which have to be strictly followed throughout the country.
"After a steady decline in the number of COVID-19 cases for about five months, for the last few weeks, the number is showing an increasing trend in several parts of the country. It has been observed that it is largely due to laxity in the observance of COVID-appropriate behaviour by people, especially at crowded places," Bhalla said.
He said keeping in view the fresh spike in the number of cases and the upcoming festivals, it will be important to ensure compliance of the guidelines and strictly enforce COVID-appropriate behaviour such as wearing of face masks, maintaining hand hygiene and social distancing among people.
"I would, therefore, urge you to take the necessary measures for creating awareness among people to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour and simultaneously take the necessary action for its strict enforcement, so as to fully overcome the pandemic," the home secretary said.
According to the Union Health Ministry data, states like Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh are reporting a surge in the daily COVID-19 cases, accounting for over 80 per cent of the new infections.
Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a virtual meet with Chief Ministers said that India needs to take quick and decisive steps to stop the emerging second peak of Covid-19 immediately. He handed out a five-point plan to fight what is being called the second wave of infection.