Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday requested the States to deal strictly with hoarding and black marketing of essential medicines and injections. Chairing a meeting of Chief Ministers of high burden states, Modi said that the Railways and the Air Force have been deployed to reduce travel
time of oxygen tankers. The Chief Ministers of 11 states and Union Territories which have reported the maximum number of cases recently were present at the meeting.
Noting that the virus is affecting several states as well as Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities at once, the Prime Minister called for working together to fight the pandemic with collective power. "The biggest basis of India's success during the first wave of the pandemic was our united efforts and united strategy and we will have to address this challenge in the same way," he said.
Modi assured the Centre's full support to all the states in this fight. He added that the Ministry of Health is also in touch with the states and is monitoring the situation closely and issuing necessary advice from time to time.
On oxygen supply, the Prime Minister took note of the points raised by the states. "There is a continuous effort to increase oxygen supply. All the concerned departments and ministries of the government are also working together. Industrial oxygen has also been diverted to meet immediate requirements," Modi said.
He urged all the states to work together and coordinate with one another to fulfil the requirements of medicines and oxygen.
He also urged the states to check hoarding and black marketing of oxygen and medicines. "Every state should ensure that no oxygen tanker, whether it is meant for any state, is stopped or gets stranded," the Prime Minister said.
He urged the states to set up a high-level coordination committee to carry oxygen to different hospitals. This committee should ensure that as soon as there is allotment of oxygen from the Centre, it can deliver oxygen as per requirements to various hospitals of the state immediately.
The Prime Minister informed the Chief Ministers that on Thursday he chaired a meeting on oxygen supply and will be attending one on Friday as well to discuss all the options for increasing the supply. Modi stated that the central government is working on all possible options to reduce the travel time and turnaround time of oxygen tankers and for this, Railways has started Oxygen Express. "Empty oxygen tankers are also being transported by the Air Force to reduce one way travel time."
The Prime Minister said that along with upgrading of resources, we have to focus on testing. He emphasized that widespread testing should be conducted so that people get the facility easily.
He pointed out that the vaccination programme should not slow down in this situation. India is running the world's largest vaccination programme and so far, more than 15 crore vaccine doses have been provided free of cost to the states by the Centre. "The campaign launched by the Central Government to provide free vaccines to all citizens above 45 years as well as healthcare workers and frontline workers will also continue in the same manner," he said.
He added: "From May 1, the vaccine is going to be available to all citizens above 18 years of age. We will also need to work in mission mode to get more and more people vaccinated."
Modi emphasized that along with all measures for treatment of the patients, hospital safety is also very important. Expressing grief over the recent incidents of oxygen leakage and fire at hospitals which claimed many lives, he said that the administrative staff of the hospital needs to be made more aware about the safety protocols.
The Prime Minister urged the administration to continuously make people aware so that they do not indulge in panic buying.
Earlier, a presentation was given by member Niti Aayog, Dr VK Paul, which highlighted the preparations being made to counter the new surge of infections. Paul also presented the roadmap for increasing the medical facilities and targeted treatment of patients.