New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting on Saturday, in which he took serious note of media reports about ventilators provided by the Centre lying unutilised in some states due to technical glitches. The Modi-led BJP government has been facing flak in the national and international media over its mismanagement and weak handling of the second wave of Covid-19. India reported 3,26,098 new Covid-19 cases and 3,890 deaths in the last 24 hours ending 8 am on Saturday, as per the Health Ministry.
At a press conference, top health officials said 10 states account for 85 per cent of the total coronavirus cases in the country. The Government on Saturday said that the overall Covid-19 situation in the country is stabilizing. “The government is working towards ensuring further stabilisation,” said NITI Aayog member V K Paul on Saturday.
PM Modi said that refresher training for the proper operation of ventilators should be provided to healthcare workers if necessary. "The Prime Minister took serious note of some reports about ventilators lying unutilised in storage in some states and directed that an immediate audit of installation and operation of ventilators provided by the central government should be carried out," read a release by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
The remarks come two-day after the Health Ministry dismissed reports suggesting that ventilators supplied by the Centre under the PM-CARES Fund to a state-run hospital in Faridkot were lying unused because of technical glitches. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in a tweet had stressed that medical equipment supplied by the Centre is "not faulty". "It's appalling how even relief measures are bearing the brunt of an infodemic being fuelled by vested interests using baseless reports & incomplete facts (sic)," he wrote, referring to some media reports suggesting that "'Make in India' ventilators in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra were not functioning optimally".
The PM also put emphasis on door-to-door testing in rural areas to stop the spread of Coronavirus. He asserted that localised containment strategies are the need of the hour, especially in states with high positivity rate in districts. Modi directed that a distribution plan for ensuring oxygen supply in rural areas should be worked out, including through provision of oxygen concentrators, a statement from the PMO said.
Unlike the first wave of COVID-19 cases last year when rural India was not badly hit, the region has been seriously affected by the second wave in several states. PM sought empowering ASHA and anganwadi workers with all necessary tools. Testing needs to be scaled up further, with use of both RT-PCR and rapid tests, especially in areas with high test positivity rates, he added. The PMO noted that testing has gone up rapidly in the country, from around 50 lakh tests per week in early March to around 1.3 crore tests per week now.