With most parts of the country witnessing a significant rise in COVID-19 cases over the last few days, several states made masks mandatory again, while others have urged the public to take precautions.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya earlier this week held a review meeting and advised states to stay alert and review the preparedness of health facilities.
A nationwide mock drill is planned on Monday and Tuesday to assess emergency preparedness of both public and private hospitals
In an exclusive interview with NDTV, the health minister assured that the government is prepared to deal with the recent spike in infections. ICU beds, oxygen supply, and other critical care arrangements are in place, he said, adding that there’s a weekly review of preparedness.
On a possible fourth wave of the covid pandemic, the health minister said there’s a need to be alert. The last Covid mutation was BF.7 sub-variant of Omicron, and now XBB1.16 sub-variant is causing the surge in infections, he said, adding that in the ministry’s experience, sub-variants are not too dangerous.
The Haryana government has made wearing face masks mandatory in public places as a precautionary measure.
The state’s health department has urged the public to adopt Covid appropriate behaviour. The district administrations and panchayats have been instructed to ensure that it is implemented in all parts of the state.
Kerala has also made masks mandatory for pregnant women, the elderly and those with lifestyle diseases.
Kerala Health Minister Veena George, after holding a high-level meeting to evaluate the COVID-19 situation in the state, said Covid-related deaths are mostly reported in people above 60 years and those with lifestyle diseases such as diabetes.
Veena George also directed the health department to ensure oxygen availability and said a special meeting of private hospitals will be held soon.
The Puducherry administration has made mask wearing compulsory in public places with immediate effect.
Staff working in hospitals, hotels, restaurants, liquor shops, hospitality and entertainment sectors, government offices and commercial establishments should compulsorily wear masks, a statement said.
The Uttar Pradesh government has issued a ‘high-priority’ directive, instructing officials to ensure the screening of international passengers at all airports.
All samples which test positive for Covid should be sent for genome sequencing, said the government order.
Hospitals, polyclinics and dispensaries in Delhi have been instructed by the health department to scale up testing.
Amid a gradual increase in the number of Covid cases, medical experts say the new XBB.1.16 variant of the virus could be driving the surge in the national capital.
However, they maintained that there is no need to panic and people should follow Covid-appropriate behaviour and get booster shots of the vaccines.
With inputs from NDTV