PM Narendra Modi to interact with CMs on current Covid-19 situation today
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a meeting via videoconferencing at 6:30pm with chief ministers of states and Union Territories to take stock of the Covid-19 situation and the vaccination drive as the country is in the middle of the most severe wave of infections yet.
The meeting comes a day after Union health minister Harsh Vardhan accused Maharashtra, Delhi, and Punjab, all non-Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states, of politicising the issue of vaccination.
Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday said the state was left with 1.4 million doses, which would last only three days. He urged the Centre to prioritise shipments to the state, which is reporting close to 10 times higher number of new infections every day than the region with the next-highest numbers.
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, who is attending the meeting, on Monday wrote to Modi for permission to vaccinate all people aged above 25 amid the spike in cases. His Delhi counterpart, Arvind Kejriwal, this week wrote to Modi saying the 45-year age bar be removed for vaccination. Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh made similar demands earlier.
In a statement on Wednesday, Vardhan hit out at what he said were attempts to “divert attention” from the slow vaccination drive. He targeted Punjab, Maharashtra, and Delhi. Vardhan cited figures and said the vaccinations in the three states were lower than that of several other states.
The Union health ministry later sent letters to Maharashtra, Delhi, and Punjab and asked them to take “immediate corrective action” to ensure doses are delivered to health and front-line workers.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is busy with the election campaign, was unlikely to attend the meeting with Modi, people aware of the matter said. Chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay was expected to represent the state at the meeting.
Maharashtra is the worst-hit state in the country. It reported 55,469 new Covid-19 cases and 297 deaths on Wednesday-- the highest in any state in India. Maharashtra had 4,72,283 active cases on Wednesday when the death toll went up to 56,330.
Thursday’s meeting will be the second such interaction for Modi in five days to assess the surge in the number of Covid-19 cases.
At the last meeting, it was decided to send central teams to Maharashtra, Punjab, and Chhattisgarh. The three states continue to report a surge in the number of daily cases. Modi also instructed officials present at the meeting to ensure strict implementation of the five-fold strategy of testing, tracing, treatment, and adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour and vaccination.
More regions on Wednesday were forced to reintroduce curbs on movement due to rising Covid-19 cases amid the second wave of infections.
India’s daily caseload, which recorded a gradual decline after September 17, has surged over the past week with over 100,000 fresh Covid-19 cases being reported on Monday. Maharashtra remains one of the main contributors to the daily spike reported. The other badly hit states are Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh.