Amid a surge in COVID cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a virtual meeting with chief ministers of all states and Union territories on Thursday, 8 April, to assess the situation and the ongoing vaccination drive.
It was made clear that no political blame game shall be played while battling the pandemic.
Modi said, “There was a sort of competition between states when the number of coronavirus cases started rising," NDTV reported. He said that comparing stats became a fashion.
“I told you that you shouldn't worry a bit if the number of cases is high. Don't be under any kind of pressure that your performance is bad because your numbers are high. You just focus on testing; I'm telling you even now. There will be more positive cases if you do more testing," he added in what was seen as a reassurance to the Maharashtra government.
Why Did Maharashtra Need Reassurance?
Since Tuesday evening, Maharashtra has been claiming that its vaccine stocks were running out and that its vaccination drive will come to a halt if stocks are not replenished soon.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday, 7 April, claimed that the state doesn’t have enough vaccine doses at several vaccination centres, resulting in people being sent back. He added that the state will run out of doses in three days.
However, Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had on Wednesday refuted Tope’s statement, saying that such allegations are “utterly baseless”.
Vardhan further condemned the state’s comments and accused it of misleading the people to deflect attention from what he called its poor performance in controlling the spread of the virus.
“The inability of Maharashtra government to act responsibly is beyond comprehension. The lackadaisical attitude of the state government has singularly bogged down the entire country’s efforts to fight the virus,” Dr Harsh Vardhan had said.
Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi reacted to Dr Vardhan’s statement and said, “Statement by the health minister of India disturbed, saddened, and disgusted me. While a letter was written to him in good spirit and intent, and in the spirit of cooperation, and in the spirit of feedback. What he responded with wasn’t just political, but sounded like trying to seek brownie points by attacking some states.”
State health minister Tope added that while Centre is supplying them with enough doses, the speed of delivery of vaccines is not satisfactory, and added that Maharashtra has a vaccine wastage rate of 3 percent, which is half of the national average vaccine wastage rate of 6 percent.
PM Modi on Thursday said that testing was the only way out of pandemic. He announced the target to conduct 70 percent RT-PCR tests. He also reprimanded the lethargy shown by some officials conducting tests.
Modi also stressed on the need for proper governance and infrastructure.
Iqbal Chahal, the chief of Mumbai's civic body Brihanmumbai Corporation, said, “Right now, we are conducting more than 25,000 RT-PCR tests. We would love to go further, but we have exhausted our capacity," he had told NDTV.
CM Thackeray’s Response
Thackeray said that the state had succeeded in keeping the virus in check, but the grampanchayat elections and marriage events had resulted in the spread of the virus.
He added that the state government aims to complete vaccination of 1.77 crore population in the priority list, for which 40 lakh vaccine doses are required per week.
The state has so far received 1,06,23,500 doses, out of which 92 lakh to 95 lakh have been administered. But the stocks have dried up and many vaccine centres have been shut, the Hindustan Times reported.
Though the Centre had assured supply of 17.43 lakh doses after 15 April, the dried up stocks will lead to an interruption in the vaccination drive. The demand for lowering the vaccination age limit to 25 years was also reiterated.
Over the last 24 hours, Maharashtra has logged an all-time high of 59,907 cases, which took the state's total to 3.17 lakh since the pandemic reached the country, undoubtedly increasing its need for the vaccines.
(With inputs from NDTV and Hindustan Times.)
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