On the eve of Maharashtra and Labour Day, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray assured the citizens that the government is prepared to tackle the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic with enough oxygen stock, additional health and medical facilities.
At the same time, Thackeray said in his web address to the citizens that the government is ready to pay at one go for the procurement of 12 crore vaccine doses to inoculate about 6 crore people in the age group of 18-44 years. The CM, however, made a fresh plea to the Centre to provide adequate vaccine doses while announcing that the state will successfully come out of the present crisis very soon.
“There are economic constraints, but your lives are important for us. If we get 12 crore doses today, we will give a one-time cheque for the same. We are prepared. However, there are limitations to the supply of vaccines. We are in talks with not just Serum Institute of India and Bharat biotech, but also Sputnik V," said Thackeray.
“We will be launching the vaccination for the age group of 18-44 years from May 1 depending on the availability of vaccine doses as the first dose has been given to a large population. We will distribute 3 lakh vaccine doses that have come today. They are insufficient,” said Thackeray.
But he assured that the government is capable of completing the ambitious vaccination drive as the vaccine supply improves. He reminded that the state government has set a new record by vaccination of 5 lakh doses in a single day.
Thackeray urged the people to maintain patience and said only those who have been able to register, should go to designated centres. “There is a terror of Covid in everyone’s heart but no point in overcrowding the centres, he said, adding that the vaccine supply will increase in June-July.
Thackeray said the crash of the CoWIN app to register for vaccines had to happen, hence he had written to the PM to allow a separate app for each state that can be connected to the national app.
Thackeray strongly defended the imposition of lockdown with stringent restrictions from April 22, which has been now extended up to May 15, saying that the state would have recorded 9 to 10 lakh active Covid-19 cases which have been currently below 7 lakh. Commenting on the Bombay High Court asking the government if the complete lockdown be imposed in the state, CM noted it may be necessary but does not think the state will reach that stage.
Preparedness for third wave
Thackeray said the government is not sitting idle during the present lockdown but engaged in further strengthening the health infrastructure and streamlining the procurement of oxygen and Remdesivir. "There were 2 testing labs in June 2020, now there are 609. There were 2,665 Covid centres, now there are 5,595. There were 3,36,384 hospital beds, now there are 4,31,902. There were 42,813 oxygen beds, now there are 86,108. There were 11,882 ICU beds, now there are 28,937. There were 3,744 ventilators, now there are 11,713,’’ he noted.
The chief minister added that the oxygen production capacity of the state is 1,200 metric tonne daily. However, due to the surge in cases, the daily requirement is now1,700 metric tonnes which is being met by procuring oxygen from other states.
He said that the state is looking to set up Covid Centres at places where oxygen is produced. Liquid oxygen can be transported but it is not possible for the transportation of gas oxygen. So the government will build Covid-19 jumbo facilities around such oxygen plants and has identified six such places across the state at Pen, Thal, Wardha, Khaparkheda, Paras, and Parli, he noted. Thackeray further said that the state is planning to set up 275 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants in addition to the 10 sanctioned by the Centre.
“We are trying to transport oxygen on a timely basis. If the numbers keep rising, there can be a problem,” he said. He added in view of the recent fire and oxygen leakage he has asked the district collectors to conduct structural and fire audits of jumbo facilities.
As far as the Remdesivir requirement is concerned, Thackeray said the state needs 50,000 injections per day. “The Centre has given us 26,700 vials in the beginning. I requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Now, there is provision for 43,000. But we are actually getting 35,000. We are paying for them." He called upon the citizens to not use Remdesivir unnecessarily and let the doctor take that call on its usage.
Thackeray said the government has been focusing on a timely implementation of a financial package of Rs 5,476 crore announced for poor and economically weaker sections.
He also urged citizens to show restraint and not plan weddings for the muhurats in the coming month.