Union home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday asked chief ministers of all the states and Union Territories witnessing a surge in the cases of the coronavirus disease to ensure Covid-19 mortality rate comes down below 1% and the and the new cases must not exceed 5% of the existing level. Shah made the request at a virtual review meeting held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the chief ministers of these states and Union territories.
The most important step Shah told the CMs to take was to make the containment zones dynamic. Officials must visit the red zones every week and based on data collected, change the status of a particular area, he said. At present, the data from containment zones is collected fortnightly. The Union home minister asked the chief ministers to do everything in their power to ensure all the three targets are achieved at the earliest.
The meeting comes at a time when India’s Covid-19 tally has soared past 9.17 million. On Monday, the Supreme Court gave two days’ time to states and the central governments to disclose their preparedness to combat the spike in infections and the expected rise in cases in the coming months. A three-judge bench headed by justice Ashok Bhushan was concerned particularly about the prevailing situation in Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Assam.
At the Covid-19 review meeting, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal told the Prime Minister that pollution caused by stubble burning in the neighbouring states played a key role in the high severity of the third wave of Covid-19 in the national capital. Delhi saw a peak of 8,600 Covid-19 cases on November 10 in the third peak following which the cases and positivity rate are steadily decreasing, he informed.
Kejriwal sought Modi’s intervention to get rid of the pollution in the city due to stubble burning. He also sought the reservation of additional 1,000 ICU beds in the central government-run hospitals in Delhi for coronavirus patients till the third wave of the infection lasts in the Capital.
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Speaking about the situation in West Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said that people in the state have become ignorant of the viral infection and have stopped following protocols like wearing masks. She added that the people here think Covid-19 pandemic is over. Only in the North 24 Parganas district people wear masks while in Bankura nobody can be seen exercising precautions.
During the meeting, Banerjee also asked for states’ Goods and Services Tax (GST) dues to be cleared by the Centre. She was the only one to have raised the issue.
Other leaders who attended the meeting include health minister Harsh Vardhan, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel and Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani.
The first round of the meeting has ended. During the second round, PM Modi and the chief ministers will discuss vaccination strategy following which the Prime Minister is likely to issue a concluding statement.