Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting with Chief Ministers of all States and UTs on Tuesday via video conferencing to review the status and preparedness of COVID-19 response and management with special emphasis on eight high focus states.

These States were Haryana, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat and West Bengal. The modalities of Covid-19 vaccine delivery, distribution and administration were also discussed during the meeting.

What the PM said

The Prime Minister remarked that the country has faced the pandemic through concerted efforts and in terms of both recovery rate and fatality rate, the situation in India is better than most other countries.

He said that efforts are on to make medical colleges and district hospitals self-sufficient in terms of oxygen generation and informed that the process for establishing more than 160 new oxygen plants is underway.

The Prime Minister noted that the pandemic can be broken down to four stages.

The first was of fear when people reacted in panic.

The second stage saw cropping up of doubts about the virus when several people tried to hide that they had been afflicted by it.

The third stage was of acceptance when people became more serious about the virus and displayed greater alertness.

In the fourth stage, with increasing recovery rate, people have developed a false notion of security from the virus, thus leading to a rise in instances of negligence.

He emphasized that it is of utmost importance to increase awareness about the seriousness of the virus in this fourth stage. He noted that the trend of increase in the spread of the pandemic in countries where its impact was earlier lessening, is being seen in some states as well, which necessitates greater alacrity and caution.

He noted that it is important to increase RT-PCR tests, ensure better monitoring of patients, especially those in home isolation, better equip health centres at village and community level and keep running awareness campaigns for safety from the virus. He said the target should be to bring down the fatality rate below 1%.

The Prime Minister reassured that the government is keeping a close watch on the development of vaccines and is in contact with Indian developers and manufacturers, along with global regulators, governments of other countries, multilateral institutions and international companies. He added that it will be ensured that the vaccine for citizens will meet all necessary scientific criteria.

He underlined that just like the focus in the fight against COVID has been on saving each and every life, the priority will be to ensure that the vaccine reaches everyone.

He noted that the priority of vaccination is being decided in consultation with the states. The requirements of additional cold chain storages have also been discussed with the states. He asked the Chief Ministers to ensure regular monitoring of the State Level Steering Committee and State & District Level Task Force to ensure better results.

He forewarned that past experience tells us several myths and rumours are spread around vaccines. Rumours about side effects of the vaccine may be spread. He emphasized that such attempts need to be tackled through spreading greater awareness by taking all possible help including civil society, students of NCC, NSS and the media.

The Chief Ministers thanked the Central Government for providing necessary assistance in improving health infrastructure in the states. They provided detailed feedback of the ground situation in their States.

They also discussed and gave suggestions about the vaccination drive.

What the CMs said

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said the high severity of the third wave of coronavirus cases in the national capital is due to many factors with pollution being a significant one.

Kejriwal told the prime minister that Delhi saw the peak of 8,600 coronavirus infections on November 10 during the third wave and since then, the number of cases as well as the positivity rate is steadily decreasing, the sources said.

At the meeting, Kejriwal also sought the reservation of the additional 1,000 ICU beds in the central government-run hospitals in Delhi for coronavirus patients till the third wave of the infection lasts in the city, the sources said.

Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray informed that a task force has been set up to manage distribution and vaccination in Maharashtra and the government is in constant touch with Adar Poonawalla of the Serum Institute of India to track the development of the coronavirus vaccine, CM Thackeray told the PM during the meet.

Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the state-level committee will be formed for vaccination of coronavirus vaccine, after the meeting with PM Modi.

“We have started the work of expanding the cold chain space, vaccine transport and creating the new cold chain focal point. A state-level governing committee has also been formed under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary. Immunisation work will start in Madhya Pradesh as soon as the vaccine arrives,” said Chouhan.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee assured Prime Minister Narendra Modi that her government is fully prepared to work with the Centre and all other stakeholders for the speedy implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination programme in the state.

Banerjee said the recovery rate among the patients in the state has improved as compared to other parts of the country.

“We are ready to work with the Centre and all other stakeholders for speedy and universal vaccination for everyone as soon as the vaccine is available,” Banerjee told PM Modi.

During the meeting, Banerjee said “political gamesmanship and competitive rallies” must be avoided in the greater public interest.

Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao announced that the state government is ready with an action plan to administer scientifically approved COVID-19 vaccine to the people and felt that that verification should be done on whether it has any side effects before being administered.

Rao said committees should be formed at the state, district and mandal level to conduct the vaccination programme.

In a series of tweets, Telangana CMO quoted Rao saying that the vaccine should be given first to the coronavirus warriors and frontline workers like police and other departments, people above 60 years of age and those suffering from acute diseases.

A list in this regard should be prepared, he said at the meeting.

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot said, “The state is doing 100 per cent testing by RT PCR which is credible. The testing has been increased from 18,000 samples per day (Sept-Oct) to 30,000 plus now,” CM Gehlot said during the video conference.

Ashok Gehlot also enumerated other measures taken by the state government including banning crackers, law regarding wearing masks, night curfew, etc., in the wake of an exponential increase in the coronavirus cases in Rajasthan.

“State has taken steps such as banning crackers, law on masks, night curfew, restricted gatherings in view of rise in coronavirus cases,” Gehlot said, adding, “Creation and strengthening of hospital infra such as oxygen generation plants, laying of oxygen pipelines, purchase of oxygen concentration plants, Storage plants, increase in ICU and Oxygen beds have also been done.”

Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani said the coronavirus situation in Gujarat is under control and enough number of beds are available for patients, Rupani said on Tuesday during his virtual interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Rupani said the government has intensified testing to identify coronavirus positive patients and also imposed a night curfew in Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Vadodara and Surat.

Uttarakhand CM TS Rawat said, “Our government is fully committed to carry out Covid vaccination work in a systematic and time bound manner. In the meeting, the subject of Haridwar Kumbh-21 was also presented to the Prime Minister.”

Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa said, “As per directions of Union Government, preparations are under way for vaccine distribution in the state. 29,451 vaccine distribution centres and more than 10,000 vaccinators have been identified. There are about 2,855 cold chain centres in the state and cold storage facilities of Veterinary Department and private hospitals will also be utilised.”

Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel said the spread of coronavirus has been brought under control in the state.

After October, the state has registered around 50 per cent decline in new cases,” said Baghel.

“Mitanins (female health volunteers) have contributed a lot in containing the infection in these (rural) areas, a statement quoted Baghel as saying in the meeting.

The arrival of people from other states had led to a rise in infections in Chhattisgarh, which had initially reported less number of cases, he added.

In October-November, the fatality rate stood at 1 per cent, he added.

Highlighting preventive measures being taken in the state, the CM said, as many 23,000 tests are being conducted per day. All medical colleges have RT-PCR testing facilities while four new labs have been set up for testing.

“The number of general beds and ICU (intensive care unit) beds equipped with oxygen has been increased in hospitals. Oxygen plants have been set up at hospitals attached to medical college,” Baghel said.

(With PTI inputs)