India managed to keep its COVID-19 losses to minimum:Javadekar

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Pune, Feb 7 (PTI) Despite its huge population, India has succeeded in keeping its 'coronavirus-related losses to a minimum' compared to the USA and other European countries, Union minister Praksh Javadekar said here on Sunday.

Speaking after flagging off a vehicle campaign aimed at dispelling rumours about COVID-19 vaccines, the Information and Broadcasting Minister said more than 50 lakh healthcare and frontline workers have been inoculated since the vaccination drive began on January 16.

This campaign will also spread awareness about the government's efforts towards achieving the aim of the 'aatmanirbhar Bharat'.

Apparently referring to COVID-19 fatalities in India, Javadekar said, 'the whole world is fighting coronavirus.

However, even with its population of 130 crore, India has managed to keep its losses lesser than the USA, and other countries in Latin America and Europe'.

India's tally of COVID-19 cases rose to1,08,26,363 with 12,059 new infections being reported in a day, while the daily deaths fell below 100 for the third time this month, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.

The death toll increased to 1,54,996 with 78 daily new fatalities, the lowest recorded after nine months, the data updated at 8 am on Sunday showed.

Javadekar said a 'new phase of communication' has begun with the launch of the COVID-19 vaccination.

'After inoculating healthcare and frontline workers, people above the age of 50 years will be vaccinated, and the entire population later,' the Union minister said.

Officials said this vehicle campaign intends to take the message of COVID-19 vaccination and the pandemic- appropriate behaviour to the last mile in Maharashtra.

Artistes of the song and drama division of the I&B Ministry will spread the awareness through folk performances popular in respective regions of Maharashtra, they said.

Under this campaign, 16 specially-fabricated vans will travel across 36 districts of the state.

The drive has been designed and implemented by the Regional Outreach Bureau of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and the IEC Division of the Maharashtra health department.

The vans will also display messages through LED screens. These vehicles will be live tracked through GPS, the officials said.

Meanwhile, speaking with reporters on the Union Budget 2021-22, which was presented in parliament on February 1, Javadekar defended the proposed privatisation of public sector undertakings.

'The privatisation will help to save tax-payers' money that are being spent on the loss-making companies. The Union government's stand is clear on divesting such entities,' he said.

The BJP leader said such a move on divestment was dubbed the 'sale of an ornament' when the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government was in power, but that decision proved helpful ultimately. 'Such PSU's are not ornaments,' he added.

When asked about Tesla's proposed entry in Karnataka andMaharashtra failing to attract the company, he said, 'in a competition, one wins while another loses.

'However, to attract such investment, states should have friendlyrelationships with foreign companies,' he said.

Javadekar said the Budget indicates the government's views on the aatmanirbhar Bharat.

'We have allocated funds for the infrastructure development, but did not levy any tax,' he added. PTI CORR NSK NSK