New Delhi, Apr 30 (PTI) The Centre Friday told the Supreme Court it has been vigilant and proactive in urging states to prepare for the second wave of COVID-19 and making sure that the entire nation shows preparedness in case of surge.
It submitted that while states supported with requisite data largely during the first wave of COVID-19, details were largely not updated by them and districts on the COVID-19 portal even after constant persuasion.
In an affidavit filed before a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud, the Centre said it has constituted various Empowered Groups to look into various issues pertaining to COVID management including to meet the supply and demand of the oxygen in the country.
'In order to protect the country from any shortfall in the possible event of any second wave, it is submitted that Union Government wrote to all States and UTs on/ from December 4, 2020 (after the elapsing of the first wave) conveying State/District wise estimates on future requirements of bed capacities in COVID health care facilities based on then-existing trends of growth rates.
'It is submitted that the same is an important factor which ought to be noticed by this Court as the same clearly depicts that the Union of India, has been vigilant and proactive in making sure that the entire nation shows preparedness in case of the possibility of any possible second waves,' the Centre said.
The court was informed that the Ministry of Health wrote to all States and UTs on December 2020 conveying State/District wise estimates on future requirements of bed capacities in COVID health care facilities based on then-existing trends of growth rates.
The Centre submitted that on February 27, 2021, the Ministry of Health advised all states advised not to lower their guard, enforce COVID appropriate behaviour and deal firmly with violations.
The apex court was told that states were advised in the video conferences that data is crucial for them and the districts for detailed planning and hence, they should endeavour for ensuring timely and correct data availability in the portal.
'It is submitted that had the states adhered to the projection tool created by the union of India and emphasised regularly in the meetings and developed the medical infrastructure of the said state commensurate with the projection given the existing situation of health infrastructure in the country would have been different,' the Centre said.
Contending that the total oxygen requirement for all states is 8,462 metric tonne, the Centre in its affidavit said that a total allocation of 8,410 MT has been made for 22 high burden States and UTs based on their demand and augmenting the oxygen supply on a war footing.
'Ministry of Health has already floated a Short term global tender on April 16, 2021, to import 50,000 MT of medical oxygen, to be supplied in a span of 90 days to further augment the supply of medical oxygen in the country,' it said.
Centre said there has been a sudden increase in the projected medical oxygen required as on April 20 between the initial estimate and revised estimate submitted by Delhi (133 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (100 per cent).
On the issue of vaccines, the government told the apex court that vaccination is the topmost priority and all efforts are being made to achieve an objective of 100 per cent vaccination in the shortest time possible keeping the available resources in mind and availability of vaccine doses into consideration.
'It is submitted that now the Central Government has launched its Phase-III of the National Vaccine Strategy which aims at liberalised vaccine administration with a view to scaling up of vaccine coverage.
'This would augment vaccine production as well as availability, incentivising vaccine manufacturers to rapidly ramp up their production as well as attract new vaccine manufacturers, domestic and international,' it said.
The bench on April 22 took note of the pandemic situation due to sudden surge in COVID-19 cases as also in mortality and said it expected the Centre to come out with a “national plan” to deal with the distribution of essential services and supplies, including oxygen and drugs. PTI PKS MNL SJK SA