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High-burden states: Modi to hold meeting

Healthcare workers outfitted in personal protective equipment (PPE) in Kerala. Image credit: Javed Anees / CC0

Tomorrow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to review the COVID-19 pandemic with the Chief Ministers and health ministers of several high-burden states and union territories.

The COVID-19 pandemic in India has grown precipitously in scope. In the early stages of the outbreak of the disease, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or simply coronavirus, the country was affected relatively lightly. Cases were confined for some time to the state of Kerala. Three students repatriated from the virus’s epicentre in the Chinese province Hubei’s capital of Wuhan accounted for the initial infections. 

Since then, cases of COVID-19 have surged to the extent that India is now the world’s second worst-affected country by the pandemic and is positioned to overtake the United States as the worst-affected in the weeks to come. At the time of writing, India accounts for 5,568,740 of the world’s 31,526,953 confirmed cases of COVID-19 according to Worldometer data. Of India’s cases, 981,228 are active. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic exerting in just a 24-hour period more than 75,000 new cases, the statistics are indeed troubling. Worth noting, however, is that just ten states account for almost 76 percent of the total caseload. 

This figure is the impetus for the planned meeting between Prime Minister Modi – to be held virtually – and Chief Ministers and health ministers of seven high-burden states and union territories. Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh are the states and union territories in question. 

The seven states and union territories account for 63 percent of the country’s active COVID-19 caseload, as well as more than 65 percent of total confirmed cases thus far and 77 percent of fatalities due to the disease, according to data from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Maharashtra ranks as the worst-affected of India’s states and union territories at the time of writing.

A statement issued by the Government asserted that “the Centre has been leading the fight against COVID in the country in effective collaboration and close coordination with the State/UT governments. The Union Government is supporting them to ramp up the healthcare and medical infrastructure.” The objective of the meeting is “to review the status and preparedness of COVID response and management.” 

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