India will be in a position to vaccinate at least all of its adult population by the end of 2021, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Friday. At a meeting to review the pandemic situation in nine states and union territories, the minister said, “Between August and December 2021, India will have procured 216 crore vaccine doses, while by July this year, 51 crore doses will be procured." Vardhan touched upon the speculation that the virus might mutate in future and endanger children, and said that the health facilities are being upgraded to deal with any such exigency, according to a health ministry statement.
Vardhan also cautioned against the emerging trend in the country. He highlighted that now the smaller states are showing an upward trend and there is a dire need to be extremely cautious, the statement said. He asked the states to follow the basic principles of COVID-19-appropriate behaviour along with testing, tracking, tracing, treating and now vaccinating to fight against the pandemic.
He emphasised the need to step up vaccination and reiterated the need to dedicate 70 per cent of vaccines provided by the central government for the second dose. He also requested the states and UTs to be vigilant against wastage of jabs, the statement said.
The minister, who reviewed public health response to COVID-19 and progress of vaccination in Chhattisgarh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Ladakh, and Lakshadweep, informed that all the states and UTs have been asked to notify black fungus (Mucormycosis) as an epidemic and ensure that all cases are duly reported. He assured that all the necessary information and guidelines regarding diabetes control and restricted use of steroids have been provided to states, the statement stated.
He highlighted that daily recoveries have outnumbered the daily new COVID cases for the last 8 days consistently. Further, the minister said that India has administered a total of 19,18,89,503 vaccine doses to its citizens.
Meanwhile, the Kerala government on Friday extended the statewide lockdown by a week till May 30 to contain the spread of the coronavirus infection. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also announced the withdrawal of “triple lockdown" measures being implemented in three districts — Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Thrissur from May 16. However, the “triple lockdown" will be continued in Malappuram district. Karnataka extended the existing lockdown restrictions by two week till June 7. However, the state decided to allow unrestricted inter and intra-state movement of people.
In Maharashtra, 29,644 fresh COVID-19 cases and 555 deaths were reported on Friday, according to the health department. It took the state’s caseload to 55,27,092 and death toll to 86,618, the department said in a release. Out of 555 deaths, 369 occurred in the last 48 hours while 186 had taken place in the last week. The deaths that had taken place before one week but were not accounted for till now were added to the overall tally which thus went up by 1,263, the health department said.
The recovery rate of Maharashtra now stands at 91.74 per cent while the case fatality rate is 1.57 per cent. The positivity rate is 17.04 per cent, the release said.As many as 44,493 patients were discharged from hospitals, taking the total of recoveries to 50,70,801. The active caseload dropped to 3,67,121. Mumbai city reported 1,415 cases and 54 deaths, taking the city’s caseload to 6,94,200 and toll to 14,464.
With 2,87,501 new tests, the state has so far carried out 3,24,41,776 tests for coronavirus. Maharashtra’s COVID-19 figures are as follows: Positive cases: 55,27,092; new cases: 29,644; death toll: 86,618; discharged: 50,70,801; active cases: 3,67,121; people tested so far: 3,24,41,776.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded doctors, nurses and paramedical staff of his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi for their efforts in fighting Covid-19. The prime minister gave a new slogan “Jahan bimar, wahin upchar (treatment of the ailing at their doorstep)" during his video conference with the healthcare professionals, saying this can bring down the pressure that the second wave of COVID-19 has put on the country’s health system.
“A lot of work has been done, but there is also a need to concentrate on the rural areas of ‘Purvanchal’ (eastern region of Uttar Pradesh)," Modi stressed. The effect of the pandemic has been so vast that despite all efforts, numerous lives were lost, the prime minister said in a voice choked with emotion.
“You have contained the virus significantly but there should be no complacency as it is going to be a long fight," Modi told the doctors and frontline workers of Varanasi. He also took stock of the functioning of various COVID hospitals in the holy city, including the Pandit Rajan Mishra COVID Hospital which was recently started through joint efforts of the DRDO and the Indian Army.
The prime minister discussed ongoing efforts for tackling the second wave of COVID-19 in Varanasi and preparations for the future.