Will provide every support to states in Covid fight: Vardhan

Will provide every support to states in Covid fight: Vardhan

New Delhi: Amid the growing concerns over the shortage of oxygen cylinders and Remdesivir in hospitals, the Centre on Saturday held a high-level meeting with the health ministers of 11 states and union territories to review the measures taken by them for prevention, containment and management of the recent surge in Covid-19 cases.

At the meeting, which was chaired by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, the Centre assured the states to provide continued support in their fight against Covid-19.

In a statement, the Health Ministry said issues pertaining to augmenting the supply of oxygen cylinders, stepping up supply of Remdesivir in hospitals, adding to the ventilator stock, and enhanced supply of vaccine doses were raised by almost all the 11 states that participated in the meeting.

The states, including Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal, Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, have been reporting an unprecedented surge in new COVID cases.

"Many states raised the issue of dovetailing the medical oxygen supply lines and capping of prices of essential drugs like Remdesivir which has been sold in the black market at exorbitant prices," the health ministry said.

"Double mutant strain in Maharashtra was a key point of concern. The Delhi government requested for additional beds in central government hospitals as was done in 2020 to help tide over the emergent health crisis," the ministry said.

The notification of the Home Ministry, granting permission to states to utilise up to 50 per cent of their annual allocation of State Disaster Response Fund, and that of the Union Health Ministry, allowing utilisation of unspent pending balance under National Health Mission as on April 1, 2021 for COVID management purposes, were reiterated, it said.

At the meeting, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan informed the states on the steps taken to provide medical grade oxygen and augmenting Remdesivir stocks in the country.

The states were also informed about the issuance of the calendar of medical oxygen supply from different oxygen manufacturers in the country. The steps taken for unhindered movement of oxygen cylinders from their manufacturing units across states were also detailed, the ministry said.

Taking a note of the active surge in cases witnessed since last February in which most states have now crossed their highest tally, Harsh Vardhan exhorted states to plan in advance and increase COVID hospitals, oxygenated beds and other relevant infrastructure to deal with any further spike in cases.

The Health Minister urged the states to give special focus on the prominent five to six cities in their administration and map medical colleges to either these cities or adjoining 2-3 districts.

The states were asked to seek out positive cases with the onset of early symptoms so that prompt and effective treatment checks the deterioration of health in the diseased, the ministry said.

During the meeting, Vardhan assured fresh supply of the lifesaving machines, saying 1,121 ventilators are to be given to Maharashtra, 1,700 to Uttar Pradesh, 1,500 to Jharkhand, 1,600 to Gujarat, 152 to Madhya Pradesh and 230 to Chhattisgarh.

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