Covid in Bengal: Mamata Banerjee flags 3 issues to PM Modi, seeks ‘intervention'
West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee on Sunday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi where she highlighted three issues which are important with regard to the second wave of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in India which is leading to a huge spike in number of cases and fatalities.
The issues which Banerjee mentioned in her letter are vaccination, supply of essential medicines such as Remdesivir and Tocilizumab and the supply of oxygen in West Bengal. She requested the Centre’s intervention in these areas. “As such, in the present situation, we have to significantly scale up our capacities to tackle the pandemic on war footing,” she added.
At the beginning, Banerjee told PM Modi that another letter was addressed to him on February 24 where she asked him to allow West Bengal to purchase vaccine doses directly from state funds and launch a free vaccination campaign to cover the state’s entire population. “However, the state has not received the requisite clearance yet.”
Here are the three issues which the Bengal CM asked the Centre to address:
In the letter, Banerjee said that the density of population in West Bengal and more particularly in the capital city of Kolkata is extremely high, and a focussed and aggressive vaccination against the Covid-19 disease is very important. However, the supply of vaccine doses from the Centre has been ‘scarce and erratic’ which has negatively affected the state’s vaccination programmes, she said, adding that the vaccination programme is suffering due to uncertainties of supply from the Centre.
Pointing out that almost 2.7 crore beneficiaries have to be vaccinated and 5.4 crore vaccine doses are needed, the CM requested Modi to urgently intervene and ensure the requirement of doses is fulfilled at the earliest.
2. Supply of Remdesivir and Tocilizumab:
Banerjee said the supply of Remdesivir and Tocilizumab is extremely scarce in West Bengal and the state needs 6,000 vials of Remdesivir and 1,000 vials of Tocilizumab on a daily basis. Currently, only 1,000 vials of Remdesivir is available in the state per day and there is no fresh supply of Tocilizumab, Banerjee added and urged the Prime Minister to see that all relevant authorities ensure the ramp up their efforts and ensure the steady supply of these medicines as soon as possible.
3. Supply of oxygen:
The final point which the Bengal CM wrote in her letter to PM Modi was of oxygen supply for the infected patients. Amid the massive spike in cases and deaths in India, several states have reported a severe shortage of oxygen and have requested the Centre to address the issue.
Banerjee aid the supply of oxygen in West Bengal must be assured and certain. “The Steel Authority of India Limiter (SAIL) is meeting up our need for the moment and we shall be grateful if you kindly instruct them too for ensuring steady supplies,” she added.
West Bengal on Saturday reported the highest single-day spike of 7,713 new Covid cases, taking the caseload to 651,508, according to the state health department’s bulletin. More than 10,500 people have succumbed to the disease so far with 24 fresh deaths on Saturday. Kolkata, the worst hit region in the state, saw a record day jump of 1,998 new cases and 10 deaths on Saturday.
The recent surge and deaths in West Bengal can be attributed to the political rallies and road shows being held as a part of the eight-phase state assembly elections where social distancing, wearing of face masks and other Covid protocols are not followed.
CM Banerjee also said in her letter that sharp rise in the cases in West Bengal is primarily due to the large number of outsiders coming into the state for poll campaigning and other purposes “at the behest of some political parties”.