Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Tuesday, 24 November, held a virtual meet with the chief ministers of ‘Super 8 States’ in view of the rising COVID-19 cases in these states.
In his closing remarks in the virtual meet, PM Modi said that India was in a better situation than other countries as a result of joint efforts but warned against becoming casual about the virus.
“Seeing good recovery rates, many think virus is weak and they’ll recover soon, this has led to rampant carelessness... Those working on vaccine are doing it but we need to focus on ensuring that people are alert and transmission is curbed. We’ve to bring positivity rate under five percent.[sic.]”Narendra Modi, Prime Minister
He added that people are working on the vaccine but there is a need to focus on ensuring that people are alert and the transmission of the virus is curbed.
The meeting was held with the CMs of Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Kerala.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who has recently criticised the government over the vaccine issue. Without naming him, PM Modi accused him of "playing politics", sources said, according to NDTV.
According to NDTV’s sources PM Modi further said: "We cannot decide when the vaccine will come. It is not in our hands. It is the scientists who are dealing with the issue.”
“There is also a focus on making oxygen and ventilators available. We are trying to make the medical colleges and district hospitals self-sufficient in oxygen generation. Efforts underway to establish more than 160 oxygen generation plants in the country,” PM Modi said according to ANI.
According to NDTV, he added that while the overall countrywide figure has dropped below 50,000 for several days now, the situation in certain states – including Delhi – has given rise to concern. “There is a need to increase testing,” he said.
As Haryana Chief Minister was speaking about contact tracing, the Prime Minister cut in and said: "Manohar ji, we have the figures before us. Tell us your views about how you plan to control the spread of corona."
“Safety is as important as speed for us, whichever vaccine India will give to its citizens will be safe on all scientific standards. Vaccine distribution strategy will be chalked out in collective coordination with states. States must also start working cold storage facilities.”Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, said among other things.
In the meeting, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal informed PM Modi that Delhi saw a surge of 8,600 COVID-19 cases on 10 November in its third peak.
“Since then, cases and the positivity rate are steadily decreasing. The high severity of third wave is due to many factors, including pollution,” ANI reported.
Kejriwal, according to NDTV, sought the Prime Minister's intervention to rid the city of the annual pollution spike caused by stubble, or "parali", burning in neighbouring states.
Kejriwal also sought reservation of additional 1,000 ICU beds in central government hospitals till the third wave lasts.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray told PM Modi that he is in constant touch with Adar Poonawalla of Serum Institute for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Thackeray mentioned that the state has formed a task force to ensure timely distribution of vaccine and executing the vaccination programme, whenever the vaccine is available, news agency ANI reported.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the state is ready to work with the central government to ensure speedy and universal vaccination for everyone as soon as the vaccine is available, reported ANI.
Banerjee also said that the people in the state have been ignoring the seriousness of the infection, and have stopped following the COVID-19 protocols, like wearing masks.
Banerjee added that the people in the state think that the pandemic is over.
“Only in the North 24 Parganas district people wear masks while in Bankura, nobody can be seen exercising precautions,” Hindustan Times quoted Banerjee as saying.
Mamata Banerjee, according to NDTV, also reminded PM Modi about the non-payment of Goods and Services Tax (GST) dues to several states, during the meeting.
After the meeting, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar stated that the states have been asked to develop strategies to make vaccines available to the general public.
“In the first phase, the vaccine will be provided to healthcare personnel and people who need it the most,” ANI quoted Khattar as saying.
He further stated that in the second phase, the vaccine will be given to essential service providers, followed by two phases in which there will be age-wise distribution.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani stated that in the first stage the vaccines will be given to the frontline healthcare workers, and then in the second stage to the police personnel, sanitation workers, etc. Rupani added that PM Modi has made it clear that all those who are above 50 years of age will be given the vaccine in the third stage. While the ones with comorbid conditions in the fourth stage.
Karnataka Minister Basavaraj Bommai also said that India will be ready to implement the vaccination on a priority basis in different sectors.
Shah Encourages 3-Point Target to Tackle COVID-19
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah asked the chief ministers of all states and Union Territories with the highest number of coronavirus to ensure COVID-19 mortality rate comes down below 1 percent and the positivity rate below 5 percent, reported Hindustan Times.
Shah instructed the officials to visit the containment zones every week, and as per the data collected, change the status of a particular area.
Shah also asked the chief ministers to make the containment zones dynamic, reported Hindustan Times.
The Union home minister asked the chief ministers to do everything in their power to ensure all the three targets are achieved at the earliest.
Leaders who attended the COVID-19 review meeting include Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
On Friday, 20 November, PM Modi held a virtual meeting with top officials of NITI Aayog on India’s strategy for developing a COVID-19 vaccine and making it accessible to the masses.
Meanwhile, Bharat Biotech made an announcement on Sunday, 22 November, that the COVID-19 vaccine it has developed, Covaxin, will be at least 60 percent effective based on earlier trial results. Covaxin is India’s first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
Bharat Biotech had started the phase 3 trials earlier this month with 26,000 volunteers from across 22 sites in India, making it the largest COVID-19 clinical trial in the country.
According to the data released by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India on Monday, 23 November, reported 44,059 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally in the country to 91,39,866. The death toll increased by 511 to 1,33,738.
(With inputs from ANI, NDTV and IANS)