“We should organise a vaccination festival from April 11 to 14 during which we should inoculate as many eligible people as possible and target zero wastage [of the vaccine],” Modi said during his meeting with chief ministers to discuss the coronavirus crisis, reported NDTV.
The statement came as various states, including Odisha, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana warned of vaccine shortages. Odisha was forced to shut down 700 of its vaccination centres due to a scarcity of coronavirus vaccines.
Amid calls from chief ministers of various states to widen vaccination coverage to younger people, Modi said that India’s criteria for inoculation is same as other prosperous countries who have access to all facilities. “You are [youth] educated,” he said. “You know how much vaccine is being produced. Now it is not that we can set up factories overnight. We will need to prioritise according to the available stocks. It is not that we can move stocks to one state and we will get the results. This thinking is not correct. We will have to think of the entire country.”
During Thursday’s meeting, the prime minister also stressed on the need to create micro-containment zones and conduct extensive testing in order to rein in the spread of the coronavirus.
He added that imposing a night curfew is important to tackle the rising cases. “The world has also accepted the night curfew,” the prime minister said. “Curfew makes people remember that they are living in the age of corona. It is good that we promote night curfew as ‘corona curfew’. This will not affect work too much.”
Modi said that a challenging situation was emerging in India and stressed on the need to contain the second wave of the pandemic. “There is a need to work on war footing again to fight Covid-19,” he said. “Despite all the challenges, we have a better experience, resources and a vaccine.”
He warned that people have become too casual in dealing with the pandemic. “The growth rate this time is faster than the first wave,” Modi warned. “People have become complacent. Administration also seems to be lazy.”
He also said states must use the experiences of the first wave of the pandemic to combat the second one. The prime minister said the focus should be on testing, tracking and treatment as well as coronavirus management and following Covid-appropriate behaviour.
He said that one of the major reasons for the infection spreading are asymptomatic patients, and called on the state to conduct more tests to deal with it. He set a target of conducting 70% RT-PCR tests for the states.
The prime minister also said that positivity and mortality rates need to be brought down. “We have to bring the positivity rate below 5% and lower the mortality rate,” he said. “The data on deaths should be analysed in detail and made available on every portal.”
Modi said the government was considering new vaccines and was also looking into their manufacturing, according to The Hindu. He asked the states to take the help of National Cadet Corps candidates to help families that are not technologically savvy register for the vaccine on the Centre’s CoWin portal, reported India Today.
He also asked states to conduct all-party meetings with their respective governors to create an actionable plan for tackling the pandemic. “The CMs and governors should do webinars and also include religious leaders to spread the message,” Modi said.
India on Thursday recorded 1,26,789 new cases of coronavirus, setting another global record high of infections reported in a single day since the pandemic began. This is the third time the number of cases in India has gone past the one lakh-mark in a day.