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Follow mantra of contact tracing, testing in 72 hours: PM to states in COVID meeting

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New Delhi, Aug 11: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called for tracing and testing those who come in contact with COVID-19 patients in 72 hours and asserted if the virus is defeated in 10 states, which account for 80 per cent of the active cases, then the country will also emerge victorious against the pandemic.

Narendra Modi

At a video conference with chief ministers and representatives of these 10 states, including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, Modi said the recovery rate has gone up which, he added, meant that government efforts have proved to be effective.

He emphasised on the need to trace and test all those who come in contact with an infected person within 72 hours.

"We need to follow a new mantra - all those who have come in contact with an infected person should be traced and tested within 72 hours," he was quoted as saying in an official statement.

This should be followed with the same earnestness as washing hands, maintaining social distance and wearing masks, he said.

The percentage of active cases is reducing, while the recovery rate is increasing, the prime minister said.

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    He noted that these steps have boosted the confidence of people, and said the target of bringing down the fatality rate below one per cent can be achieved soon.

    Modi shared as to how Home Minister Amit Shah worked to prepare a roadmap for successfully tackling the pandemic together with Delhi and nearby states.

    The Centre and states have been able to work as a team in the fight against COVID-19, he said.

    "Our experience so far is that containment, contact tracing and surveillance are the most effective weapons against the pandemic, with experts of the view that if cases are identified within 72 hours of onset, then infection slows down to great extent," the prime minister said.

    He pointed out that the number of active cases in the country stands at over six lakh, and most of them have been reported from the 10 states.

    Today, 80 per cent active cases are in these 10 states. Hence the role of all these states is very big in the fight against coronavirus, he said.

    Modi said it was a matter of satisfaction that the average fatality rate in India has been going down and noted that it has been very low compared to the world average.

    In separate statements, various chief ministers shared their views expressed in the meeting, with Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal raising the issue of over Rs 53,000 crore due to her state from the Centre.

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    Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao pitched for augmenting healthcare facilities across the country while his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy said a "focused testing" strategy to detect COVID-19 cases early is paying dividends in his state.

    Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said his government is striving to see to it that there is no second wave of COVID-19 in the state.

    Modi said in the meeting that there was a need for the 10 states to sit together, review and discuss, as from this discussion, they also learnt a lot from "each other''s experiences and best practices".

    He told the participants that such meetings and discussions are necessary as new situations are emerging amid the pandemic.

    "Pressure on hospitals, pressure on our health workers, lack of continuity in everyday work. They bring a new challenge every day" Modi elaborated.

    He noted that the number of daily tests has reached almost 7 lakh and is increasing continuously, which has helped in early identification and containment. The average fatality rate in the country is amongst the lowest in world and is continuously going down.

    States where testing rate is low and where the positivity rate is high, the need to increase testing has come to the fore, especially in Bihar, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Telangana, he said.

    Modi noted that people have become aware and are ably assisting these efforts, as a result of which the country has been successful in using home quarantine so effectively, the statement said.

    He said at one point of time, cases in certain districts of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, and Delhi became a matter of concern.

    He also referred to statement of the Delhi government about the possibility of a big rise in COVID-19 cases and recounted the experience of Shah in preparing a roadmap for tackling the pandemic together with Delhi and nearby states.

    According the statement, Modi said the main pillars of this strategy were segregation of containment zones and focus on screening, especially of those in high risk category.

    The results of these steps are there for all to see, he said, adding that steps like better management in hospitals and increasing ICU beds also proved very helpful.

    The chief ministers provided feedback on the ground situation in their states. They praised the leadership of the prime minister for the successful management of the pandemic and thanked him for his constant guidance and support, it said.

    They talked about tests being conducted, steps taken to increase testing, use of tele-medicine and efforts to ramp up health infrastructure.

    They requested further guidance by the health ministry for conducting sero-surveillance, while also suggesting setting up of an integrated medical infrastructure in the country.

    Defence Minister Rajnath Singh emphasised that the government is making all possible efforts in this battle against the virus, which have been praised by the World Health Organization as well, the statement said.

    Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare presented an overview of COVID cases in the country, noting that the rate of growth of cases in some states is higher than the average rate, and requested the states to focus on optimal utilisation of testing capacity.

    He emphasised on the need for reporting accurate mortality figures and also talked about perimeter monitoring of containment zones with the help of local communities.

    Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and minister of state for home were also present at the interaction.

    Chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Punjab, Bihar, Gujarat, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh were invited for the virtual meet. "Karnataka was represented by the deputy chief minister," the statement said.

    Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Ashwath Narayan attended the meet along with state Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar.

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