Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that the priority of the government was to ensure that the coronavirus vaccine is available to all and asked the states to put in place the mechanism necessary to achieve the same, including installation of cold chain storages, reported PTI.

Modi made the statements at a review meeting with the chief ministers of Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, West Bengal, Haryana and Rajasthan to review the coronavirus situation in the respective states. These eight states have been worst-hit by the coronavirus in India.

At the meeting, the prime minister told the heads of the states that they will have to work together to ensure that the vaccination drive is smooth, systematic and sustained.

“I urge states to send detailed plans soon on how they plan to take [the] vaccine to [the] lowest levels,” Modi said, according to ANI. “It will help us in making decisions as your experiences are valuable. I hope for your pro-active participation. Vaccine work is ongoing but I request you there should be no carelessness.”

He assured the states that his government was closely watching the development of Covid-19 vaccines and also was in contact with developers and manufacturers, along with global regulators and governments of other countries, both from India and abroad.

The prime minister also advised the states to be aware of rumours around the vaccines. He said that rumours such as side effects can be spread, adding that this needs to be tackled by spreading greater awareness and taking help from other institutions, including civil societies, National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme and the media.

Meanwhile, a few state governments have assured the prime minister that they have taken measures to ensure a smooth vaccination drive.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that he was holding discussions about the vaccine with Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla and has formed a task force for the timely distribution of it.

Karnataka, too, said it was ready for delivery, distribution and administration of the Covid-19 vaccine, whenever it is ready. State Health Minister K Sudhakar said that the task force on Covid-19 recently met and reviewed preparations made for vaccine storage and delivery.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the state was ready with cold storages and the training of healthcare workers to administer the Covid-19 vaccine was underway, ANI reported. He said the inculcation process would start as soon as the state receives the vaccine.

‘Bring down positivity rate below 5%, fatality rate under 1%’

At the meeting, the prime minister asked the states to bring down the Covid-19 positivity rate to below 5% and the fatality rate to under 1% as he called for more RT-PCR testing.

“We need to speed up our efforts to reduce transmission of the virus,” he said. “Testing, confirmation, contact tracing and data must be given top priority.”

Modi noted that there was a trend of a surge in the spread of the infection in various countries, where the impact of the coronavirus had lessened earlier. This could now be seen in some states as well, he said. The prime minister cautioned the states against any laxity in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

‘Ensure better equipped health centres’

Modi asked the states to ensure that there is better monitoring of patients, especially those in home isolation, better equipped health centres at village and community level. He added that running awareness campaigns on safety from the virus was also very much needed.

The prime minister spoke about the need to expand the testing and treatment network. He said that efforts were underway to make medical colleges and district hospitals self-sufficient in terms of oxygen generation, adding that the process for establishing over 160 new oxygen plants was on.

Besides the chief ministers and Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan also attended the review meeting. While Union Health Secretary Shri Rajesh Bhushan gave a presentation on the coronavirus situation in India, NITI Aayog member VK Paul spoke about the delivery, distribution and administration of the vaccine.

Surge in coronavirus cases in various states

Several states in India are witnessing a worrying surge in cases, prompting the governments to reimpose restrictions. The Supreme Court on Monday ordered Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Assam to submit their coronavirus status reports within two days. The court noted that the situation in the country was likely to become worse and that all states must be prepared for it.

The Maharashtra government has made it mandatory for travelers from Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa to carry a report showing that they are not infected with the coronavirus.

The Delhi government began reinstating coronavirus-related restrictions last week, starting with revising the limit on wedding guests from 200 to 50. The Arvind Kejriwal-led government also increased the fine for not wearing masks in the Capital to Rs 2,000 from Rs 500 to tackle the pandemic.

Gujarat also had to reimpose night curfew in Ahmedabad to control the infection. Similar curbs were also enforced in in Rajkot, Surat and Vadodara.

India’s coronavirus tally rose to 91,77,840 on Tuesday morning as it reported 37,975 new cases in 24 hours. The country’s toll rose by 480 to 1,34,218. India’s recovered cases stood at 86,04,955, while the number of active cases was 4,38,667.