(Eds: With minor corrects in intro) Shillong, July 13 (PTI) Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Tuesday told Prime MInister Narendra Modi that legislators and elected members of tribal councils have been roped in, as part of the state government's mission-mode approach, to ramp up the vaccination drive.
Expressing concern over the slow pace of COVID-19 vaccination in Meghalaya, the chief minister, however, expressed hope that the state will be able to administer 20,000-25,000 COVID-19 shots daily and fully vaccinate all the eligible population by the end of September or early October.
During the day, PM Modi interacted with chief ministers of eight north-eastern states in the wake of the high COVID-19 positivity rate in the region.
'We are still below the national average in certain areas. MLAs, members of district council (MDCs), religious leaders, village headmen, civil society have been asked to participate in the endeavour so that the drive gathers momentum.
'We are hopeful that the vaccination rate will go up in the coming weeks and months,' Sangma said in a video that was made available to the media.
Pointing out that the delay in COVID-19 surge in the north-east was expected, the chief minister said, 'it gave us time to prepare in terms of improving infrastructure'.
Though the state has witnessed a steady decline in COVID-19 cases as of now, it has not been at the anticipated rate, the chief minister said.
In more densely populated areas, the number of COVID- 19 cases went up but came down quickly, Sangma said.
'In rural areas, we have seen that the spread is more and takes more time to come down completely. We are expecting that in the next few weeks, things should look much better than today,' he said.
At present, East Khasi Hills and West Jaintia Hills districts have a positivity rate above 10 per cent, a senior health official said.
Sangma said the Centre has sanctioned approximately 14 oxygen plants besides oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, health equipment, and infrastructure to fight the pandemic.
During his interaction with chief ministers of the eight states of the region states through video conferencing, PM Modi said the vaccination drive needs to be continuously ramped up to combat the third wave of the pandemic.
The virtual meeting was attended by chief ministers of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Sikkim, Manipur, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and Mizoram, as also by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, among others.
Modi urged people not to compromise on COVID protocols to prevent a third wave of the pandemic. PTI JOP MM MM MM