Prime Minister Narendra Modi is holding an online meeting with a number of chief ministers today amid a massive spike in Covid cases nationwide over the past week.
Those attending include Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan), Himanta Biswa Sarma (Assam), Charanjit Channi (Punjab), V Narayanasamy (Puducherry), Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh) and Biplab Deb (Tripura).
Home Minister Amit Shah and Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya are also present.
The Prime Minister held a meeting on Sunday as well, in which he met Mr Shah, Mr Mandaviya and senior government officials and emphasised the need to scale up testing and genome sequencing.
This morning India reported over 2.47 lakh new cases in the previous 24 hours – an increase of 25 per cent from yesterday and a staggering 172 per cent from one week ago.
The country’s active caseload has shot up 2.85 lakh this time last week to over 11.1 lakh today.
The third wave of Covid infections in India is being fueled, in part, by the significantly more transmissible Omicron variant that was first reported in South Africa in November last year.
India’s first case was on December 2 and, as of this morning, nearly 5,000 have been confirmed. Experts, though, warn the number could be far higher given the slow pace of genome sequencing.
Fresh curbs have been imposed by states to check the spread of new infections.
The spike in cases comes as five states – including the politically key and densely populated Uttar Pradesh – prep to hold Assembly elections over the next two months. The others voting are Punjab (one of the few remaining Congress-ruled states), Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand.
Given the steep increase in cases in poll-bound states – on Sunday UP reported a 1300 per cent increase in cases in a week and 16 of Punjab’s 22 districts have a positivity rate over 5 per cent – there were strident calls to postpone the elections.
The Election Commission, however, dismissed these calls, pointing to the Constitution and said it would announce rules to minimise the spread of the virus during campaigning and voting.
The poll body has banned physical campaign events and rallies till January 15.