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Prime Minister Narendra Modi, chairing a high-level meeting on Thursday to review the public health response measures for containing and managing Covid-19 and strengthening health infrastructure including availability of drugs and oxygen cylinders amid the growing Omicron scare, called for prompt and effective contact tracing, ramping up of testing, and accelerating vaccination.

He was briefed 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. He was also apprised of the technical brief and priority actions recommended by the WHO in the context.

A snapshot of the status of Covid-19 and its Omicron variant in the country, including states reporting a higher number of cases, districts reporting higher positivity, and higher number of clusters was presented to him. He was also briefed about the actions taken when the first advisory of the Health Ministry was shared with the states.

The PM directed the officials to maintain a high level of vigil and alertness at all levels. He directed the Centre 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," he said.

"In view of the new variant, we should be 'satark' (alert) and 'saavdhan' (cautious). The fight against the pandemic is not over and the need for continued adherence to Covid safe behaviour is of paramount importance even today," he stressed.

The PM directed the 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. It is important for states to ensure that the oxygen supply equipments are installed and fully functional, he said.

He also told the officials 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.

Heightened and close monitoring of emerging clusters and hotspots through and active, prompt and effective surveillance should continue, he stated. He directed for sending a good number of positive samples for genome sequencing to INSACOG labs in a prompt manner, while accelerating the testing to ensure quick identification of cases for timely containment and treatment.

The PM said that teams should be sent to the states with low vaccination, rising cases, and insufficient health infrastructure to assist them improve the situation.

Apprised that more than 88 per cent of the eligible population is administered the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine and more than 60 per cent the second dose, he said that states need to ensure that the eligible population is fully vaccinated and to proceed to meet the target in a saturation mode.

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