In a virtual interaction with chief ministers over the COVID-19 pandemic situation and the ongoing vaccination drive, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday expressed concern over the rise in cases in parts of the country and called for "quick and decisive" steps to stop the "emerging second peak". "If we do not stop it here, then a condition for a nationwide outbreak may emerge," he added.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray put forth a few requests at the meeting. He urged the Centre to permit more vaccination centres to be set up so as to speed up the inoculation drive. He also requested PM Modi to allow the state's Haffkine Bio-pharmaceutical Corporation Limited to produce the COVID-19 vaccine. He said the vaccine technology be transferred under Mission Covid Suraksha to the company under the guidance of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Thackeray said the state aims to vaccinate up to 3 lakh people daily, and requested more for vaccine doses as the state has a stock of only 10 days left. 35,52,000 vaccine doses have so far been given, while 31,38,463 doses are remaining, he said. Uddhav also demanded that everyone above the age of 45 years should be vaccinated.
Besides, the Union Health Secretary termed the vaccination rate in Maharashtra--1,38,957 doses daily on an average--satisfactory as compared to some other major states. However, he said the rate should be increased further. The Union Health Secretary also expressed satisfaction over the RT-PCR tests conducted in the state.
On Tuesday, the Centre said that Maharashtra is on the verge of a second COVID-19 wave. "Efforts to track, test, isolate cases and quarantine contacts are limited there with no adherence to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour among people both in rural and urban areas," the Union Health Secretary said in a letter Maharashtra Chief Secretary.
"Though it appears high, a deep dive into the methodology of contact tracing revealed that the main concept of contact tracing was not clearly understood by the field level staff, who were mainly listing the immediate family and neighborhood contacts," he added.
Maharashtra on Tuesday reported 17,864 new COVID-19 cases. This is for the first time this year that over 17,000 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the state in a single day. The previous highest single-day surge this year was 16,620 on Sunday, March 14.