Vaccine Scarcity, Oxygen Crisis, Lost Livelihoods: Uddhav Thackeray Flags Key Issues Plaguing Maharashtra

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Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday addessed the state over the challenges being faced and the measures taken to contain the spread of coronavirus. Highlighting the shortage of vaccines, Thackeray said the state needs 12 crore doses but there are limitations to the supply from Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech. “I thank the prime minister for allowing vaccinations for those above 18. A total of 6 crore population of Maharashtra falls under the 18 to 44 age group,” he said.

“There are economic constraints, yes, but your lives are important for us. If we get 12 crore doses today, we will pay for them with a one-time cheque. We are prepared. But the supplies are limited…We are also in talks with the makers of Sputnik V,” the chief minister said.

Thackeray addressed a host of issues, including lockdown, loss of livelihood, availability of oxygen and medicines in the state. Here are the top quotes from his address:

– Thackeray said Maharashtra would have seen nine to ten lakh active coronavirus cases if the state government had not imposed new lockdown-like restrictions. A complete lockdown may be necessary but “I don’t think we will reach that stage,” he said. The latest restrictions helped contain the daily spike in coronavirus cases and active cases have now stabilised at around 6.5 lakh, he said in a televised address on the eve of Maharashtra’s Foundation Day. “We will fight this coronavirus wave together like we did last year,” he added.

– “I won’t feel bad to ape anyone if they have something better. I will do everything for the benefit of people,” said Thackeray.

– Reviewing the availability of oxygen, he said the state can produce 1200 MT of oxygen but it is using 1700 MT per day. “We are trying to transport oxygen on timely basis,” he said.

– The chief minister also addressed the issue of shortage of Remdesivir. “The daily requirement of the drug in the state is 50,000. The Centre has given us 26,700 in the beginning. Then I requested the prime minister for more. Now, there is a provision for 43,000 medicines, but we are actually getting 35,000 only. We are paying for them.” Thackeray also warned the people to not use Remdesivir unnecessarily and let the doctors take the call.

– “I held a meeting with all district collectors. I have told them that all hospitals should now have oxygen generating plants. We have opened tenders for them, and have started procurement. Even if we face the third wave, we will have enough oxygen. Liquid oxygen can be transported, but gas oxygen can’t be transported. So, now we are building COVID facilities around such oxygen plants — JSW, Reliance, Mahagenco. We are creating covid facilities around them. At least 275 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants have been provided by the state and 10 by the Centre.

– The Maharashtra government is ready to tackle the third wave of coronavirus, the chief minister asserted. The second wave was expected but nobody knew it would be so ferocious, he added.

– On accidents like the Nashik oxygen mishap, Thackeray said, “The entire healthcare machinery is tired, machines are tired. And after accidents, they feel helpless.. Jumbo COVID centres are also a year old now. Structural audits and fire audits of such facilities have been ordered.”

– The state has set aside a Rs 5,500 Cr worth package for those who have lost their livelihoods, he said. “I wont let food supply get affected and Shiv Bhojan thali will be free for 2 months. At least 3.94 lakh people have benefited from it so far.

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