Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday interacted with chief ministers of states that are witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases to review the COVID-19 situation.
While the national daily COVID-19 case count has remained below 50,000 for some time, several urban centres have witnessed a surge, resulting in enforcement of several measures, including curfews in some cities.
The leaders attending the meeting include Home Minister Amit Shah, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
The prime minister, till now, has held several virtual meetings with states over the coronavirus situation.
The prime minister is also expected to have discussed the vaccine distribution strategy with chief ministers and other representatives of states and union territories.
Pollution likely to have made COVID-19 wave severe in Delhi
At the meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said the high severity of the third wave of COVID-19 in the national capital is due to many factors, pollution being an important one.
Kejriwal told the prime minister that Delhi saw the peak of 8,600 coronavirus cases on November 10 during the third wave and since then, the number of cases as well as the positivity rate are steadily decreasing.
The chief minister hoped that the trend would continue in the national capital.
"The high severity of the third wave is due to many factors. Pollution is an important factor. The chief minister sought the prime minister's intervention to get rid of the pollution caused by stubble-burning in adjoining states, especially in view of the recent bio-decomposer technique," news agency ANI quoted a source as saying.
At the meeting with the prime minister, Kejriwal also sought the reservation of the 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 city, the source said.
Maharashtra to formulate vaccination strategy
On the other hand, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray told the Prime Minister that the state government has formed a task force to manage the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine and formulated strategies on how vaccination will be carried out in the state.
"A task force has been set up to manage the distribution and vaccination in Maharashtra and the government is in constant touch with Adar Poonawalla of the Serum Institute of India to track development of the coronavirus vaccine," the statement said quoting Thackeray.
Poonawalla is the CEO of the Serum Institute of India, which has partnered with AstraZeneca for manufacturing the Oxford vaccine for COVID-19.
The central government has also been putting in place measures for quick and effective distribution of coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available.
Five vaccine candidates are in advanced stages of development in India, out of which four are in Phase II/III and one is in Phase-I/II trials.
India saw 37,975 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day taking the country's COVID-19 caseload to 91.77 lakh, while the recoveries crossed 86 lakh, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday.
With 511 new deaths, the death toll mounted to 1,33,738.The country is reporting around 30,000 to 47,000 daily new cases for the past few days.
(With agency inputs)