May 13, 2021 3:13:45 am
Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday asked people not to throng vaccine centres for their first jab, as the government was diverting all its vaccines to administer second doses to people above 45 years of age.
He also said that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will take a final call on extending the lockdown-like curbs that are in place till the end of the month.
Speaking to mediapersons after the weekly Cabinet meeting at Mantralaya, Tope – who had stopped short of announcing suspension of vaccination for the 18 to 44 age group on Tuesday – said the phase had been kept in abeyance with immediate effect due to vaccine shortage.
“There is an acute shortage of vaccines in the state. We don’t have enough vaccines for the people above 45 years of age, and the second dose has to be compulsorily given. Else, the first dose won’t have any effect. Hence, a decision to divert vaccines meant for the 18 to 44 age age group has been taken,” he added.
“The owner of Serum Institute of India, Adar Poonawala, has spoke to the CM and promised to give 1.5 crore doses per month… the quota for government and private units is yet to be decided.’’
Tope said that in the 45-plus age group, nearly 16 lakh Covishield recipients and four lakh people who have got Covaxin shots are due for their second jab. The state has a stock of seven lakh Covishield doses and three lakh Covaxin doses, he added.
“We are completing the (second dose) vaccination for 45-plus age group in three days. We are demanding more vaccines from the Centre. People should not go for their first dose of vaccine now.”
Tope said that extension of lockdown-like curbs was discussed in the Cabinet.
“There were seven lakh active cases per day prior to the lockdown, as opposed to the current 3.75 lakh. There has been a big reduction in cases. While the national growth rate of Covid-19 cases is around 1.4 per cent per day, it is 0.8 per cent for the state. The positivity rate has also dropped… Maharashtra ranks 30th in terms of growth rate.”
He admitted that cases of Mucormycosis are on the rise.
“There was a discussion that the lockdown must be extended by 15 days and the final call will be taken by the CM,” said Tope.
He further said that it has been decided that oxygen capacity in every district will be increased. At present, the state has a capacity to manufacture 1,250 metric tonnes (MT) of oxygen per day and wants to increase it to 3,000 MT per day.
Another Cabinet minister said that the state was preparing for the third wave of Covid-19.
It is estimated that Maharashtra may require 2,300 MT of oxygen per day then, the minister said, adding that the oxygen units will be given concessions in electricity tariffs, stamp duty and GST.
Tope also said that the Cabinet had given in-principle approval for the ‘Mission Oxygen’ programme, which will be monitored by the industries department. The state reported 46,781 new cases and 816 deaths on Wednesday.
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