Amid rising Covid-19 cases in five States—Kerala, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat and Karnataka, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya chaired a high-level meeting on Wednesday with top officials and chief health secretaries.

"There should be no laxity in our preparedness. There is no room for politics when it comes to public health. The Union Health ministry is available for every support," he said.

Covid upsurge in 5 states: Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya chairs high-level meeting with top officials
Video Credit: ANI

Mandaviya assured full central support to the states affected by the recent upsurge in Covid cases, saying they were working with a 'whole of government' approach. He suggested that the healthcare officials in the affected States conduct mock drills in hospitals every three months to ensure preparedness to tackle the upsurge in Covid cases.

Also read: WHO classifies SARS-CoV-2 sub-variant JN.1 as new variant of interest

"We need to be on alert but there is no need to panic. It is important to hold mock drills to ensure the preparedness of hospitals, increased surveillance and effective communication with people."

"We should hold mock drills in all hospitals once every 3 months. I assure the support of the Centre to all the states," he added.

The Union Health Minister also urged states to ensure that preventive measures are taken amid the prevailing cold ahead of the year-end festivities.

On Kerala reporting the highest number of cases at a positivity rate of 21 per cent, state Health Minister Veena George, who was at the meeting, said, "We have increased surveillance and also ramped up testing. We are also regularly reviewing hospital preparedness and stocks of PPE kits and other equipment. Senior citizens, pregnant women, and those with comorbidities are being advised to wear masks."

Dr Rajiv Bahl, Director, ICMR , Dr VK Paul, member, Niti Aayog and Dr Saumya Swaminathan, ex DG, ICMR are also in the meeting.

Also read: Karnataka issues mask advisory for senior citizens after Covid-19 cases surge in Kerala

The meeting comes on a day Kerala reported three Covid deaths and 292 fresh cases over the last 24 hours, according to data released by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

However, the Kerala government or the State Health minister did not officially confirm the fatalities due to Covid.

Earlier, on Sunday, Kerala Health Minister Veena George alleged that some people were trying to create unnecessary fear and spread false news on Covid deaths in the state.

"There have been deaths from other serious ailments. No one died from or because of Covid-19. Facts should not be misrepresented and neither should the spread of Covid be allowed to disrupt people's lives," George said.

Also read: ICMR study says no link between sudden deaths and Covid shots

Earlier, after the detection and confirmation of a case of the new JN.1 subvariant of Covid-19 in Kerala on Sunday, George assured the people that there was no need to worry.

The state Health minister also urged people to stay vigilant and take necessary precautions."

No need for any worry. That is a sub-variant (Covid-19 sub-strain JN.1). Two or three months ago, it was detected in some Indians when they were tested at Singapore airport," George said, adding, "However, with Kerala having a robust healthcare system, we could detect the sub-strain here through genomic sequencing. There's no need to worry. We are closely monitoring the situation. However, we should all stay alert and those battling comorbidities should take necessary precautions," George added.

The total Covid cases reported nationwide till 8 am on Wednesday was 341, of which Kerala alone accounted for 292, Delhi and Gujarat reported 3 each, Karnataka logged 9 cases, Telangana and Puducherry 4 each, Tamil Nadu 13 and Maharashtra 11, according to data by the Union Health ministry.

The total number of deaths reported in Kerala since the outbreak of the pandemic has been pegged at 72,056.The total number of active Covid cases in the country is currently at 2,311, with the total number of fatalities reported since the arrival of the pandemic in India at 5,33,321, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.