Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a meeting of the council of ministers Friday morning to discuss the Covid crisis, which has the country in its grip in a deadly second wave, according to sources.
This would be the first such meeting to be held after the second wave of the pandemic hit India. The PM has held meetings with pharma companies, vaccine makers, oxygen manufacturers and state chief ministers during the past few weeks to review how the Covid situation was being tackled.
In his address to the nation on April 20, Modi had appealed to states that lockdown should be the last resort and that economic activity and livelihood should remain least impacted. He has maintained that the focus should be on restrictions and curfews in containment zones. A prolonged national lockdown imposed in March 2020 had adversely impacted the country’s economy and businesses and the government has so far been avoiding a repeat of that situation, officials said.
Many states have imposed lockdowns and restrictions on movement of people to curb the spread of the virus.
Shortage of oxygen supply and vaccines has been a major challenge in the current spell of Covid. Health minister Harsh Vardhan told reporters on Thursday that there was no need for people to panic and rush to hospitals. He said there was adequate supply of oxygen in the country earlier as well and now it had been increased further. Requirement of oxygen among Covid patients has been higher in the second wave of the pandemic compared to the first, according to health ministry data.
The health ministry has also seen a massive rush in the registration for Covid vaccinations in the 18-45 years age group. More than 8 million have registered on the CoWIN portal on the second day as well for the vaccine. “Vaccination is a critical component of the containment and management strategy of the government. The fight against the pandemic is ongoing and the government is using all its experience to tackle the situation,” Vardhan said.
He said that no one knew about the virus last year but now the government was better informed about how to deal with the menace and was leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to fight the deadly pandemic. Army too has been roped in for setting up Covid care facilities, involving retired medical officers. Modi on Thursday met the chief of army staff General MM Naravane to discuss various initiatives being taken by the Army to help in Covid management.