COVID-19: Dr Harsh Vardhan asks Maharashtra govt to pull up its socks,  control spread of virus

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday said that the lackadaisical attitude of the Maharashtra government has singularly bogged down the entire nation’s efforts to fight the virus.

In the same breath, he asked the Maharashtra government to pull up its socks in controlling the COVID 19 pandemic, instead of playing politics, spreading lies and creating panic.

Accusing the Maharashtra government of its poor vaccination efforts and casual attitude in battling the virus, the Health Minister said, “Today, Maharashtra not only has the highest cases and deaths in the country but also has one of the highest test positivity rates in the world! Their testing is not up to the mark and their contact tracing leaves a lot to be desired. The performance of Maharashtra government in terms of vaccinating healthcare workers and frontline workers is also not great. It is shocking to see how the state Government is putting Maharashtrians in danger by letting people escape institutional quarantine mandate for the sake of their personal ‘vasuli’. Overall, as the state has lurched from one crisis to another, it seems as if the state leadership is happily sleeping at the wheels.”

Holding a mirror to the Uddhav Thackeray government, the Health Minister remarked, “Maharashtra has vaccinated only 86% of the health workers with the first dose. The equivalent numbers for Delhi and Punjab are 72% and 64%, respectively. On the other hand, 10 Indian states/UTs have done more than 90%.”

He went on to remind the Maharashtra government that it has vaccinated just 41% of the healthcare workers with second dose whereas equivalent numbers for Delhi and Punjab are 41% and 27%. There are 12 Indian states/UTs that have done more than 60%. ‘’Politicizing a public health issue is a damning indictment of certain political leaders who should know better.”

The Health Minister said, “The Maharashtra Government needs to do a lot more to control the pandemic and the Central Government will help them in all possible ways. But focusing all their energies on playing politics and spreading lies to create panic is not going to help the people of Maharashtra.''

Dismissing statements made by public representatives in Maharashtra about shortage of vaccines, he said that such allegations are utterly baseless as vaccine supplies are monitored on real time basis and States are kept in the loop. “We have regularly counselled the Maharashtra state government, made them available all resources and sent central teams for help. ''

Responding to recent demands to drastically lower the minimum age criterion for vaccination eligibility, Dr Harsh Vardhan singled out the failures of the Maharashtra government and said that it was trailing other States on vaccinating frontline workers, health care workers and the elderly who deserve priority.

“When states are asked to open up vaccine supplies to everyone over 18, we must presume that they have done saturation coverage of healthcare workers, frontline workers and senior citizens. But the facts are altogether different.’’

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Free Press Journal