Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said he was humbled as over 2.50 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered in the country on his 71st birthday, and called it an emotional and unforgettable moment.
Without naming any party, Modi also said the overwhelming response in the country to the vaccination drive on his birthday on September 17 made a political party experience fever, and react during midnight.
Modi was interacting with healthcare workers and vaccination beneficiaries in Goa via video link to mark the first dose vaccination to the entire eligible population in the state.
“I want to speak my maan ki baat. So many birthdays came and went. I kept away from celebrating them. But in my entire life, yesterday was an emotional day,” he said.
He said people from medical fraternity are associated with the vaccination programme for the last one and a half year, but the record created yesterday is a big thing as over 2.5 crore people received the jab.
“One dose will save one life,” he added.
He said the country was glued to the CoWin dashboard yesterday as every hour more than 15 lakh vaccines were given, which means 26,000 jabs every minute and 415 every second.
“More than one lakh vaccination centres were involved in the mission,” Modi said. The country’s vaccination network and skilled manpower reflects in this capability, he added.
Modi said that on his birthday, he had called an elderly friend, who asked him about his age. “I told him, there are 30 more years remaining,” he said.
Modi said that states having a large tourist footfall like Goa, Himachal Pradesh, and Sikkim were given importance in the vaccination programme so that the tourism sector opens up.
It is important that our tourism sector opens up and a state like Goa attains an important position in reviving the tourism sector of the country, he said.
“When everyone from the hotel industry, taxi drivers, vendors and shopkeepers are vaccinated, people will feel safe to travel that destination,” he said.
“Goa is among the international tourist destinations where everyone is vaccinated,” he added.
He said the spread of the virus has been reduced but people should not take things lightly. “We should give importance to COVID-19 protocol as much as to vaccination,” he said.
Modi said the Central government has taken up steps to encourage international tourism by offering sops like free visa for the first five lakh arrivals, Rs 10 lakh loan for hospitality sector companies and Rs one lakh loan for tourist guides.
During the interaction, Modi recalled former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar. “Had he been alive, he would have been proud of the achievement of the state,” Modi said. Parrikar’s legacy of progress has been successfully taken forward by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, he added.
Modi interacted with a doctor, nurse, a senior citizen and a social worker on issues like overcoming vaccine hesitancy and logistics involved in transportation of the doses.