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State sought 3 cr doses, Centre sent only 1L: CM

State sought 3 cr doses, Centre sent only 1L: CM
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KOLKATA: Accusing the Centre of providing only 1 lakh doses of vaccine to Bengal even as the state had sought three crore shots, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday asked the Centre to establish contact with the countries that can provide vaccine doses immediately at a time when "the country's situation is at stake" after diverting 65 per cent vaccine doses abroad.

"The Centre is not providing us with any financial support. So, the state is doing the needful to create necessary health infrastructure by augmenting the number of beds, arranging vaccine doses and oxygen. They have sent only 1 lakh vaccine doses recently. It will help in inoculating only 50,000 people when we have promised for universal vaccination of each and every resident of Bengal (10 crore population). We have sought three crore vaccine doses for the time being. We need four to five crore more doses now. We have also promised to give one crore to private hospitals. Despite such a situation, one crore people underwent vaccination in the state," Banerjee said, after maintaining that the focus of the first Cabinet meeting was to battle Covid.

"They (Centre) had diverted 65 per cent of the country's vaccine doses to other nations. As a result, people of the country are now not getting the same. They must contact the countries where it is available. The person who has taken the first dose of Covaxin needs the same for the second dose and a proper system also has to be developed if any new vaccine comes.

The need for oxygen is also going up. A policy needs to be framed and we have taken it up as a resolution in the first Cabinet meeting of this government," Banerjee said urging corporates to extend all support to the government in the fight against Covid as many have already provided space to set up Safe Homes and temporary healthcare facilities.

The state government has also taken the initiative to prepare a calendar following which one, who has already received the first dose of vaccine from a private hospital, may visit the nearest state-run establishment for the second dose. It would be introduced to reduce unnecessary rush to enquire about the dates for the second dose when there is a shortage of vaccine. The state government officers are in constant touch with the Centre to get the required number of vaccine doses.

Adding that it was not appropriate on the Centre's part to have imposed tax and duties on medical equipment needed to fight Covid, Banerjee said the Union Finance minister replied (after she wrote to the Prime Minister urging waiver of taxes and duties on the same) in a roundabout way. "It would be good if she (Union Finance minister) gives a straight statement," Banerjee said. Meanwhile, the state Cabinet on Monday decided to introduce an Integrated Covid Management System portal and an app to help people easily get information on the availability of Covid beds, Safe Homes, cremation-related issues, etc. An Oxygen Management Information System (OMIS) will also be included. It has also been decided to set up PSA oxygen plants in almost all hospitals in the state in a campaign mode. Already 14,000 industrial gas cylinders have been converted to medical oxygen ones and another 6,000 will be converted in the next two to three days. Over 1,000 oxygen concentrators will be added and 210 ventilators will also be provided soon. Initiatives would be taken to set up oxygen booths in cooperation with Durga Puja Committees and local clubs.

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