Amid the ongoing second wave and the emergence of a possible third wave of Covid-19, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come up with a national policy to avoid crowding at religious, social and political events. At the virtual meeting chaired by PM, Thackeray also called for a reduction in the prices of drugs used to treat COVID and provide assistance to start centres of excellence for post-pandemic treatment.
Thackeray pointed out how at present, monoclonal antibody therapy costs Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 per dose. “A whopping Rs 300 crore will be needed for use in 50,000 patients. The Centre needs to regulate the price of such medicines,” he said.
The CM also requested the PM to ramp up the supply of vaccines, so that the pace of vaccination could be increased and also arrange for the supply of 2,000 MT of oxygen as demand was likely to increase to 4,000 MT in the third wave. Thackeray has said that the state could vaccinate 15 lakh people per day, provided the Centre allocated more doses.
“Crowding at public places and various events is a big challenge, especially when a third wave is predicted. There is need for a comprehensive policy at the national level to check crowds at various places because of religious, social and political events, including agitations,” said Thackeray, who also briefed the PM on a slew of measures already taken by the state government in Maharashtra. He referred to crowds, especially at tourist destinations and in markets, despite restrictions.
“The state is trying to stop congregations but at the Central level, there is need for a national policy”, he reiterated.
Thackeray said even though the number of Covid-19 patients and death rates were declining, the state government had stepped up corona management measures to further reduce them. “We are also expediting the vaccination of frontline workers and reducing the rate of wastage of vaccines,” he informed.
Thackeray pointed out that the government was taking necessary measures so that the operation of industrial units could go on unhindered. A taskforce has already been formed, which will be monitored by the Chief Minister’s secretariat. “Industries have been asked to tweak working hours, ensure complete vaccination of staff, and provide temporary accommodation in the company premises on the lines of field hospitals,” he said.
‘Need more oxygen’
In view of the possible third wave, the state would need 4,000MT of oxygen per day, Thackeray said. “The state can produce 2,000MT while the balance 2,000MT needs to come from neighbouring states. The Centre needs to organise additional oxygen supply from Bhilai, Jamnagar and Bellary. In addition, nearly 530 pressure swing adsorption plants are being established in the state, district-wise, under the ‘Mission Oxygen’ programme, he said.
‘Ramp up vaccine supply’
Further, Thackeray brought to the PM’s notice that about 10 districts in Western Maharashtra and Konkan continued to report high numbers. “Nearly 2.06 crore people above 18 years of age from these districts are yet to receive both vaccine doses. So far, 87.90 lakh doses have been supplied in these districts. The Centre needs to provide an additional 3 crores of vaccine doses to complete vaccination in all 36 districts,” he said.
On Friday, there were 7,761 new cases and 167 deaths reported in the state, with 1,01,337 active cases. Cumulatively, the government had inoculated 3,88,62,466, while it had administered 6,08,941 doses on a single day on Friday.