New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday asked officials to record the spread of coronavirus infection and its seriousness among the youth and children, and cautioned that the challenge posed by COVID-19 will remain as long it is present even at a “minor scale” in the country.

In his second round of interaction with district magistrates and field officials on the pandemic, Modi spoke about concerns in various quarters about any spread of infection in the young generation due to mutations in the virus and asked officials to analyse the statistics in their districts. They will have to be better prepared for the future, he said.

There have been reports that the virus may hit the young generation, a demography which has so far not been affected hard as the adult population with people in the older age bracket being seen more susceptible.

Noting that active cases have seen a decline in the last few days, Modi referred to the experience of the last one-and-a-half years and told officials to work to ensure that people continue to follow COVID appropriate behaviour.

When the tally goes down, people start thinking that there is no need to worry now, he said, cautioning against it.

Modi called for collective responsibility in this regard among the government machinery, social organisations and elected representatives.

The challenge remains as long as the infection is present even at a minor scale, he said.

Noting that the pandemic has made their work more demanding and challenging, he said new strategies and solutions are needed to meet them and described the virus as “dhoort” (rogue) and “bahurupiya” (impersonator), a reference to its various mutations that has kept experts on edge.

Our strategy should be dynamic, and be undergoing continuous innovations and upgrade, he said.

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Speaking on the vaccination programme, the prime minister said suggestions from states and other stake-holders have been incorporated and added that the Union Health Ministry is informing states about the availability of jabs for 15 days in advance.

“With clarity about vaccination supply and timeline being available, vaccination management will become easier for you,” he said, adding that its supply will be further strengthened.

Modi also said that there is a need to prevent vaccine wastage, saying every dose wasted is denying someone protection shield against the disease.

Asking officials to analyse data separately for urban and rural regions besides those for tier 2 and 3 cities, Modi said it will help them prepare their strategy accordingly.

The prime minister stressed that officers use local experiences and also work together as a country. He also called for working to keep villages corona-free.

Modi praised the officials for their efforts in making the good use of existing resources to fight “the biggest disaster in 100 years”.

The officials, who interacted with Modi via video-conferencing, were from Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Puducherry, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. He had spoken to a group of field officials on Tuesday too.

The prime minister emphasised on giving importance to people’s ease of living as well and said the facilities for free ration for the poor and other essential supplies must be provided. 

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