Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra ModiFile photo

COVID: Our priority is to vaccinate all eligible children at the earliest, says Modi

New Delhi, April 27, 2022

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the Government’s priority in the fight against COVID-19 was to vaccinate all eligible children at the earliest and stressed that special campaigns were needed in schools.

Speaking at an interaction with Chief Ministers of States during a review of the COVID-19 situation, the Prime Minister said the schools have opened after a long time and some parents were worried by the increased number of cases in some places.

Expressing satisfaction that more and more children were getting the vaccine, he noted that in March, a campaign to vaccinate 12-14 years of age was started.

Only yesterday, permission has been granted for administering the Covaxin vaccine for 6–12-year-old children.

“Our priority is to vaccinate all eligible children at the earliest. For this, as before, special campaigns will also be needed in schools. Teachers and parents should be aware of it. A precautionary dose is available for all adults in the country to strengthen the vaccine protective shield. Teachers, parents, and other eligible people can also take a precautionary dose,” he added.

He lauded the collective efforts of the Centre and the States in the fight against the virus. He also put on record his appreciation for the Chief Ministers, officers and all "Corona Warriors" for their efforts.

“It is clear that the Corona challenge is not fully over. Omicron and its sub-variants can create problems as evidenced by the case of many countries in Europe. The sub-variants are causing surges in many countries. India has been able to deal with the situation better than many others. Still, in the last two weeks, increasing cases in some of the states show that we need to stay alert,” he said.

He noted that the Omicron wave was handled with determination and without panic and in the last two years, all aspects of the fight including health infrastructure, oxygen supply and vaccination, have been strengthened. In the third wave, none of the states saw the situation going out of control. This should be seen in the context of the massive vaccination drive. The vaccine reached each and every person and it is a matter of pride that 96% adult population is vaccinated with at least one dose and about 84% of the people above 15 years of age have received both doses. Vaccine, as per experts is the biggest safeguard against the virus, he added.

“During the third wave, India witnessed up to 3 lakh cases per day but all states handled the situation and also allowed the social and economic activity to continue. This balance should inform our strategy in future also. The situation is being constantly monitored by the scientists and experts and we must work pro-actively on their suggestions. Preventing infections at the very beginning was our priority and should remain so even now. We should implement our strategy of 'test, track and treat' with the same efficacy,” he said.

He emphasized 100% testing of serious influenza cases and genome sequencing of the positive cases, COVID-appropriate behaviour in public places and avoiding panic. He also stressed the continued up-gradation of health infrastructure and medical manpower.

Modi said India had fought a long fight against the coronavirus pandemic with the spirit of "cooperative federalism" enshrined in the Constitution. In the current global scenario, for strengthening India's economy, coordination between the central and state governments in economic decisions is necessary. In the conditions imposed by global events, this spirit of cooperative federalism becomes all the more important.

Explaining this in the context of rising petrol and diesel prices, the Prime Minister said that, in order to reduce the load of petrol and diesel prices, the Central Government had reduced the excise duty and requested the states also to reduce taxes.

"Some states reduced taxes, but some others did not pass on the benefits to the people, leading to higher costs of petrol and diesel in these states. This is not only injustice towards the people of the state but harms the neighbouring states also. States like Karnataka and Gujarat undertook the tax reduction for the welfare of the people despite revenue loss while their neighbouring states earned revenue by not reducing tax," he said.

"Similarly, in November last year, a request was made to reduce VAT but many states like Maharashtra, West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Jharkhand did not do so for some reason. Around 42% of the revenue at the Centre goes to State governments.

“I urge all the states to work as a team in this time of global crisis, following the spirit of cooperative federalism,” he added.

Pointing out that with increasing temperature, fire incidents in forests and buildings were increasing, he specially asked for fire safety audits of the hospitals. “Our arrangements for meeting this challenge should be comprehensive and the response time should be minimum,” he added.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke about the recent increase in COVID cases in some states and about the need to follow "test, track, treat" drill and vaccination besides ensuring COVID-appropriate behaviour.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, in a presentation, discussed the rise of cases across several countries, while also highlighting the rise of cases in some states in India. He spoke about the need for states to regularly monitor and report data, maintain effective surveillance, upgrade infrastructure and utilise funds given by the Centre.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said a high number of cases were being seen in the cities in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Delhi Chief Minister Aravind Kejriwal said, in recent days, Delhi has witnessed a high positivity rate. He also spoke about masks having been made mandatory again.

Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga thanked the Central government for support in other health matters and development issues.

Karnataka Chief Minister SR Bommai mentioned awareness campaigns being run to ensure COVID- appropriate behaviour.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said high number of cases in the state were mainly being seen around Delhi, in the cities of Gurugram and Faridabad.

In his concluding remarks, the Prime Minister offered condolences on the loss of lives in the road accident in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. He announced an ex-gratia from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) for the victims of the mishap.

NNN

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