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Need constant genome sequencing to monitor emerging mutants: PM Modi at Covid meet


Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined the need for genome sequencing to monitor the emergence of Covid-19 variants at a high-level meeting to review the pandemic related situation and the vaccination drive in the country.

The prime minister discussed preparedness of the health systems, availability of medical oxygen and matters relating to production, supply and distribution of Covid-19 vaccine.


PM Modi said that the entire ecosystem to ensure increased oxygen availability, including oxygen concentrators, cylinders and PSA plants, need to be rapidly augmented. “Efforts are also on to install 961 Liquid Medical Oxygen Storage Tanks and 1,450 Medical Gas Pipeline Systems with an aim to support at least one such unit per district.” a statement from the PMO said. The Ambulance network is also being augmented to ensure at least one ambulance per block. PM also reviewed the status of PSA oxygen plants coming up across the country.

The prime was also updated that around one lakh oxygen concentrators and three lakh oxygen cylinders have been distributed to the states.

It was noted that figures from states like Maharashtra and Kerala, indicate that there can be no room for complacency. However, the weekly positivity was at less than 3 per cent for the 10th consecutive week, an official release said. “PM was briefed about the concentration of cases in a few geographies, districts with high test positivity as well as the week on week test positivity rate in the country.”

On the need for constant genome sequencing, he was informed that INSACOG now consists of 28 labs distributed across the country. The lab network is also linked with a hospital network for clinical correlation. Sewage sampling is also being done for genomic surveillance. States have been requested to share Covid-19 positive samples with INSACOG regularly.

The status of augmentation of bed capacity for pediatric care and augmentation of facilities supported under ‘COVID Emergency Response Package II’ was also reviewed. States have been advised to redesign and orient primary care and block level health infrastructure in these areas to manage the situation in rural areas.

States have also being asked to maintain a buffer stock for drugs used in management of Covid-19, Mucormycosis, MIS-C at the district level, the official release said.

On the matter of increasing the capacity of oxygen and ICO beds including paediatric ICUs and pediatric ventilators, the prime minister was informed that a significant number of ICU beds and Oxygen beds will be further added in the coming months.

Regarding the need to ensure adequate testing, officials said support was being given to 433 districts to establish RT-PCR lab facilities in public health facilities.

The meeting comes a day after Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said India is still going through the second wave of Covid-19 and it is not over yet.

Bhushan, during a health ministry briefing, had said that 35 districts are still reporting a weekly Covid positivity rate of over 10 per cent while it is between five to 10 per cent in 30 districts. More than half of India’s adult population has received at least one dose of anti-coronavirus vaccine while 18 per cent have got both the shots, the Union government had said on Thursday as the total number of jabs administered in the country crossed 72 crore.