Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday directed officials to ramp up testing for Covid-19 and increase the number of samples being sent for genome sequencing.

He also urged everyone to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, including wearing masks in crowded places, in view of the upcoming festive season.

“The prime minister [Narendra Modi] cautioned against complacency and advised strict vigil,” a release from his office said. “He reiterated that Covid is not over yet and directed officials to strengthen the ongoing surveillance measures, especially at international airports.”

The decision was taken during a meeting about the Covid-19 situation in India. It was attended by top government officials and ministers.

The meeting was called after a surge in cases was reported in neighbouring China and some other countries. A sub-lineage of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus – known as BF.7 – is said to be driving the recent spike in cases in China. It was first identified in India in July.

On Tuesday, the Union health ministry had urged states to send all Covid-19 positive samples for genome sequencing, saying that this would ensure timely detection of newer variants, if any.

At Thursday’s meeting, Prime Minister Modi asked states to ensure the operational readiness of hospital infrastructure, including oxygen cylinders, oxygen plants, ventilators and human resources.

“He [Modi] advised to regularly monitor the availability and prices of essential medicines,” the release said. “Prime Minister also urged that that precaution dose may be encouraged especially for vulnerable and elderly groups.”

India was one of the worst-hit countries during the first two waves of the pandemic. During the second wave, the country had struggled with a grave oxygen crisis. The shortages of life-saving gas as well as medicines and hospital beds had forced families and friends of patients to plead for help on social media. Hospitals sent out SOS messages as their oxygen stocks ran dangerously low.

Read: Why Covid-19 is surging in China and its possible global economic impact