On Friday, 24th June, the Central Government of India conducted a high-level review Pandemic meeting with the State Governments of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Karnataka, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand, also attended by experts from the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19. With infection and mortality rates rising around the country, the Central Government believes that now, 6 months into the pandemic, the issue is no longer a lack of understanding on basic concepts of surveillance, containment and handling of the virus, but rather the ground-level execution of nation-wide and state-wide strategies.
In the three-hour-long meeting, the Centre took the time to point out the ineffectiveness of the “sporadic/localised lockdowns”, saying, “..a two-three day lockdown alone is not the solution.” Instead, the focus must also be put on strengthening the hospital infrastructure and clinical management. At the same time, the Centre also noted that the pandemic is causing excess pressure on healthcare workers and instructed the states to have a well-thought-out policy of rotating the workforce, and enlisting the help of alternative available resources such as retired doctors and final year medical/nursing students.
The Centre pointed out how easily the situation can deteriorate, giving the example of Karnataka. It is important to note that earlier in the year, Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka, was being compared to New Zealand on the basis of low infection and mortality rates. The city has since been ravaged by the virus, and now regularly reports nearly 1500 new cases every day, while Karnataka recently recorded over 5000 new cases in a single day. The Centre told the states that they, “must have a regular mechanism of ensuring prompt and effective communication with the public,” in order to avoid instances similar to the confusion and misinformation in Karnataka in June.