(Eds: With additional details) Ranchi, May 24 (PTI) Hitting out at the Centre, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said on Monday that the state was facing a severe shortage of COVID vaccines and has barely two-three days of shots for the 18-44 age group left in its stock.
Chairing a cabinet meeting, Soren said the Centre failed to alert states and take necessary measures even as it had prior knowledge of the second wave of the pandemic.
'The Government of India knew about the (second wave of the) infection but there was much delay in directions to the states and ultimately the entire country was impacted by it,' he said, chairing a meeting of his Cabinet Minister.
'We were suggested that there should not be any lockdown in the country but given the rate of infections, the state governments started taking their own decisions. Today there are partial or complete lockdowns (in every state),' he added.
The chief minister said that Jharkhand got barely 40 lakh doses of vaccines against a requirement of 4 crore doses, leading to the shortage.
Only a week or ten days' stock of vaccines are left for people above 45 years of age, while two-three days of stock is left for the 18-44 age group, he added.
However, the state government would make serious efforts to procure the required quantity of vaccines, including through imports, he said.
Soren said the state government would soon make a decision on extending the lockdown as 23 of its 24 districts share borders with either Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh or Chattisgarh, which are severely affected.
Every day about 20,000 people are coming to the state through the railways and to combat the spread, Jharkhand has decided to intensify testing in rural areas on a war footing, Soren said.
In urban areas, he said, the chain of the virus has been broken and fresh cases have reduced drastically to around 2,000 from earlier 15,000-20,000 a day.
'As far as death rates are concerned, we are the top in the country. UP and Bihar are reporting fewer deaths but you can assess if it is true. Many states are manipulating data but it is the priority of our government that we will ensure full transparency and take all possible steps to contain the virus,' Soren said.
'Till the time a single death takes place in the state, we will consider it as peak,' he said, adding that 'kafans' (shroud to cover bodies) would be made available to the people free of cost as there were reports of people facing difficulties in getting them.
Sounds of sirens of ambulances could only be heard in state capital Ranchi a month back but now the situation has changed, he claimed.
The second wave proved much fatal for the state and people lost their relatives, friends and loved ones, Soren said.
'Jharkhand was barely able to face the first wave when it was attacked by the second wave. However, with our limited resources, manpower and means we would battle the third wave if it comes and a number of steps have been initiated to augment the health infrastructure in the state, including special child care wards in hospitals,' he said.
Special emphasis is being given on rural areas as Jharkhand's 75 per cent of the population reside there and a massive door-to-door campaign has been launched where survey would be conducted in all rural households, providing them with necessary kits to fight COVID-19, he said.
'Our priority has been life and livelihood. The infection rate is decreasing. We issued 10 lakh e-passes for the movement during the restrictions as we didn't want people to face inconvenience,' Soren said.
Jharkhand has launched a massive 10-day drive for the rural areas under which each home in every village will be surveyed and proper treatment facilities will be made available to the people. PTI NAM SOM SOM