India has to take quick and decisive steps to put a stop to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic amid a surge of confirmed cases in Maharashtra and Punjab regions, the country's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday.
According to the prime minister, 70 districts of the country reported a 150 percent increase in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks.
"If we do not stop the pandemic right now, it can lead to a nationwide outbreak. We must put an immediate stop to the emerging second peak and take big decisive steps", Modi stated during a video call with chief ministers.
He urged local authorities to scale up RT-PCR testing in smaller cities and keep it over 70 percent overall, as well as to step up vaccination efforts while avoiding vaccine wastage. Modi also warned about the potential spread of the pandemic in the countryside.
"This is food for thought — why some districts have lower testing and vaccination rates. I believe these times are a good test of our management abilities. Our confidence should not turn into overconfidence. Our success should not turn into negligence", Modi stressed.
To respond to the emerging crisis, district authorities are allowed to create micro-containment zones wherever necessary, prime minister noted.
The most affected districts currently are Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. Out of over 28,900 confirmed new cases reported in the country over the past 24 hours, Maharashtra accounts for 61.8 percent, or 17,800 cases, Indian Ministry of Health said.