With surge in number of Covid-19 cases being reported from Kerala and north-eastern states, Union Health Minister Mandukh Mandaviya will be visiting Kerala on August 16 where he will meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. He will also visit Guwahati in Assam on August 17 for a meeting with the health ministers of the north-eastern states.
This will act as a review of the Covid-19 situation in Kerala and the north-eastern states by the Minister after a Health Ministry team was sent to Kerala recently in wake of the rising numbers. In another pro-active decision on Friday, the Union Health Ministry has approved releasing nearly Rs 7,300 crore to states as part of the Covid Response Package which was announced during the Parliament session last month in preparation for a possible third wave of coronavirus pandemic.
A top source said all 1,755 new oxygen generation plants will also be functional in the country by the end of August and over 350 of them are already operational and rest are in advance stage of completion to avoid any oxygen shortage in the future.
Out of the Rs 23,000 crore worth Covid Response Package, the Centre is footing 60 per cent while the states will foot 40 per cent of the same. Out of the Rs 14,744 crore share of the Centre, the Union Health Ministry has released 35 per cent of the amount on Friday and had released 15 per cent of that amount on July 22.
“This shows that the Centre is not lingering on the matter and is serious about preparations for any third wave. The States sent in their detailed plans as per guidelines on how they will spend this money and we have immediately approved those plans and released 35 per cent of the money today," the source added.
The Rs 23,000 crore package will be used for procuring RT-PCR kits, setting up more RT-PCR labs, ambulances, dedicated 20 per cent ICU beds for children, setting up more general ICU beds in hospitals, advance purchase of essential medicines and a buffer stock of ventilators, oximeters and skilling manpower. “If all this infrastructure comes up in the deadline that we have envisaged, there will be no crisis if a third wave comes," the top government source further said.
As reported first by News18 earlier this week, a top source confirmed that the Centre also had nearly 50 lakh reserve stock of Remdesivir and was exporting the enhanced production of the medicine which is available in the country now. The source also said that a company is going to start domestic production of a version of Tocilizumab drug which was so far imported from Switzerland.
“We will become totally AatmaNirbhar in this arena soon," the source said. The drug will be produced by Sun Pharma and will be called Itolizuma, the source said. Nearly 2.75 beds are already in place in the country now, the source said.