'Only 5 Days Supply Left': Punjab Becomes Latest State to Claim Shortage of Covid Vaccines

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After Maharashtra another opposition-ruled state has red-flagged the imminent shortage of Covid vaccines. Punjab is left with only five days of supply (5.7 lakh Covid vaccine doses) at the current levels of vaccinating 85,000-90,000 persons a day, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has urged the Centre to share the schedule for the supply of vaccines with the states over the next quarter based on their confirmed supply orders.

Hoping that the Centre would send fresh batches of vaccines soon, the chief minister said if the state is able to meet its target of 2 lakh vaccines a day, then its current supplies will last only three days. He said he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan asking for confirmed vaccine supply schedules.

Ranking 18th in the country at present in terms of cases reported, Punjab is showing around 8% positivity, with an average of around 3,000 cases per day for the past 15 days, the chief minister said.

Pointing out that on April 9, a total of 3,459 persons tested positive out of 41,347 samples tested and 56 deaths were reported, he said the high death rate has been on account of late reporting to hospitals and high co-morbidity (non-communicable diseases). Also, Punjab has reported all its cases very faithfully, he added.

Noting that a high positivity is being seen in the younger population and as per reports received from NCDC and IGIB, the chief minister said that more than 80% of samples have been found to be positive for the more contagious and virulent UK variant. Punjab has imposed a complete ban on political gatherings till April 30, night curfew across all districts from 9 pm to 5 am, restrictions on numbers in outdoor and indoor social gatherings and in cinema halls and malls, and closure of all educational institutions and Anganwadi Centres, with school exams being postponed. Singh said his government had to impose a ban on political gatherings as opposition leaders like Arvind Kejriwal and Sukhbir Badal were holding rallies in the state in violation of Covid norms.

People not wearing masks are compulsorily taken for RT-PCR testing, he said, adding that 2 lakh such people have so far been taken by police for RT-PCR testing. Further, Covid Monitors have been appointed in all hotels, restaurants and wedding venues to ensure Covid-appropriate behaviour. All Health Care workers who have not been vaccinated are being tested weekly for general safety, he revealed.

"On contact tracing, we are slightly lower than the desired number of 25-30 – currently we are at 13.4 contacts for every case, but we plan to increase it to 20 by within a fortnight," said the chief minister. Underlining the importance of tracing and testing, he said a total of 20.8 lakh who had been in contact with Covid patients had been identified, of whom 8.36 lakh had been tested and 90000 had tested positive. The state is ramping up tracing, he said, adding that he has asked DCs to use available staff in all departments to increase testing.

The chief minister assured that the state has all arrangements in place to ensure proper and timely treatment of Covid patients, with sufficient availability of beds, drugs, Remdesivir injection etc. Punjab will do its best to contain and manage Covid as we did last year, he said.

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