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Mamata announces free Covid vaccine for state

Mamata announces free Covid vaccine for state
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Kolkata: The Mamata Banerjee government on Sunday declared that the Covid vaccine will be provided free-of-cost to the entire 10 crore population of the state.

In a letter to frontline workers, the Chief Minister stated about her government's initiative to ensure free-of-cost Covid vaccine to everyone in the state.

Expressing her gratitude to the frontline workers and their family members for their sacrifice to serve society at this critical time of the pandemic, Banerjee wrote: "You are aware that Covid vaccine is going to be launched soon. I am happy to share that our government is taking the initiative to provide free of cost vaccine to everyone in the state."

She maintained in the letter: "Initially, it will reach all health workers."

The state Health department has already prepared a list of 6 lakh health workers and professionals who would receive the vaccine in the first phase. At the same time, all District Magistrates have also been directed to prepare a list of other frontline workers including policemen, disaster management personnel, firefighters and a large section of employees of the state Public Works Department.

This comes a day before the video conference between Prime Minister Narendra Modi with all Chief Ministers to discuss the vaccine rollout that is going to be held on January 16 with the initial target to vaccinate 30 million people in the first round.

Giving the free-of-cost vaccine to all is the second such largest drive of the Bengal government for the entire 10 crore population in just a period of two months as from December 1, the state government has announced to provide health coverage to everyone in the state. According to a senior official, there would be an expense of around Rs 6,000 crore to give free-of-cost vaccine to all. "The policy decision is made and now all initiatives are being taken to make it a grand success," the official said. The state government officials are considering that each of the vaccines would cost around Rs 250 and the expense to provide free-of-cost doses to all would be done in phases.

The state government's expense is Rs 2,000 crore per year to provide benefits of the Swasthya Sathi scheme to all.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 toll in Bengal rose to 9,941 on Sunday with 19 more people succumbing to the disease, a bulletin released by the state Health department said.

With 823 fresh cases of infection registered in different parts of the state, the tally went up to 5,60,709, it said.

The discharge rate in the state went up to 96.82 per cent with 957 more people recovering from the disease, the bulletin maintained. The percentage of positive cases out of the samples tested stood at 7.53 per cent, it said.

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