Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 8
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday urged the Centre to give flexibility to states to devise their local strategies for Covid vaccination, within the broad parameters of the Centre’s approach, while seeking a review of the strategy to allow all adults in high-risk areas to be immunised, along with patients with liver and kidney diseases below the age of 45.
Captain Amarinder made these suggestions in a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, immediately after the latter’s VC meeting with chief ministers of all states to review the Covid and vaccination situation. During the meeting, the Chief Minister apprised the Prime Minister of the situation in the state, and also the steps taken by his government to control and manage the disease.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah was also present at the meeting, during which the Chief Minister assured the Centre of all-out efforts by his government to contain and manage Covid. He stressed on the fact that the UK variant which is dominating the second wave in the state, is reported by experts to be more virulent and affecting the youth disproportionately.
In his subsequent letter, the Chief Minister said his suggestions, some of which had been earlier submitted on March 17 to the PM, the Union Minister and the Union Health Minister, were based on the state government’s interaction with independent experts.
Amid reports of some states facing vaccine shortages, Captain Amarinder also requested the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare to share the schedule for supply of vaccines with the States over the next quarter, based on their confirmed supply orders.
Given that over 80% positive cases found in Punjab are of the UK variant, as per early reports from central laboratories, the Chief Minister also sought strengthening of viral sequencing in the state, which has been reporting around 3000 cases per day since the last 15 days, with around 8% positivity.
The Chief Minister reiterated his earlier request for covering all teachers and staff in all educational institutions for vaccination to enable resumption of physical classes once the surge abates. Also, occupation-based immunisation for judges & judicial officers, bus drivers & conductors, elected representatives at all levels, etc should be allowed to take the vaccination, he stressed. Further, PGIMER, Chandigarh should be asked to earmark at least 50 Covid ICU beds for patients being referred by the State, he added.
Sharing the overall testing figures for the state, Captain Amarinder said 40,000 COVID tests per day (yesterday 44,250) are being conducted, of which more than 90% are RT-PCR and less than 10% Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). Punjab’s testing per million is higher than national average, and is now being increased to 50,000 per day, he added.