Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday said the state is now prepared to deal with a third wave of the coronavirus with enough oxygen in stock.
He said Maharashtra would have seen nine to 10 lakh active coronavirus cases if the state government had not imposed new lockdown-like restrictions, Thackeray said. A complete lockdown may be necessary but “I don’t think we will reach that stage," he said. His statement came in response to the Bombay High Court asking the government on Thursday as if a stricter lockdown should be imposed. He also said the inoculation against COVID-19 for those above 18 years of age will start from Saturday ‘as per the availability’ of vaccine doses.
The latest restrictions helped contain the daily spike in coronavirus cases and active cases have now stabilised at around 6.5 lakh, he said in a televised address who addressed the state on Thursday on the eve of Maharashtra’s Foundation Day said . “We will fight this coronavirus wave together like we did last year," he added.
He further thanked the PM for opening vaccinations for the 18-44 age group. He said the state has 6 crore people in that category and 12 crore doses are needed for that. “There are economic constraints, but your lives are important for us. If we get 12 crore doses today, we will give a one-time payment by cheque for the same."
“However, there are limitations to supply of vaccines. We are in talks with not just Serum Institute of India and Bharat biotech, but also Sputnik V."
“The first dose have been given to a large population. We are starting vaccination for 18-44 category from tomorrow, as per availability of vaccines. "
Appealing for patience, he said only those who have been able to register, should go to designated centres. “There is a terror of COVID in everyone’s heart, there is no point in overcrowding the centres." In June-July, supply will increase. “We will distribute the 3 lakh vaccines that have come today, but they are insufficient. We have given 5 lakh doses in a single day," he said, adding, “In May, we will get 18 lakh doses."
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 national app.
He said stricter curbs would affect livelihoods, but he would not let the food supply get affected, adding that a package worth Rs 5,500 crore has been announced for the same. He said ‘Shiv Bhojan’ thalis will be free for two months and this will benefit 3.94 lakh people.
“The entire country is burning with coronavirus. I know it is easy to impose these restrictions, but difficult to follow them. I wont feel bad to follow anyone if they have something better. I will do everything for the benefit of people."
He said the state is now producing 1200 metric tonnes of oxygen, while the daily requirement to treat affected patients is 1,700mt. “We are trying to transport oxygen on timely basis. If the numbers keep rising, there can be a problem."
“I held a meeting with all district collectors. I have told them that all hospitals should now have oxygen generating plants. We have opened tenders for the same and have started procurement. Liquid oxygen can be transported, but the same cannot be done with gas oxygen. So now we are building COVID-19 facilities around such oxygen plants," the CM said.
Regarding the requirement of Antiviral drug Remdesivir, Thackeray said the state needs 50,000 injections. “The Centre has given us 26,700 vials in the beginning. Then I requested the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi). Now, there is provision for 43,000. But we are actually getting 35,000. We are paying for them." He then urged citizens to not use Remdesivir unnecessarily and let the doctor take that call on its usage.
He said the entire healthcare machinery is tired. “The accidents made them helpless. Structural audit, fire audit of such jumbo facilities have been ordered."
Thackeray said nobody in the country was prepared for the second wave, but it came. “We have decided we won’t let it impact Maharashtra so much. I have spoken with industrialists and have told them what to expect and how to prepare for the third wave."
He said he was criticised for imposing strict lockdown-like restrictions, “but now we see how terrible the picture would have been, if we wouldn’t have locked down."
He also claimed the state is at the top in vaccinations, tests and medical facilities. He also urged citizens to show restrain and not plan weddings for the mahurats in the coming month.