Centre tries to pass the Covid buck to states 

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI:  The Centre on Friday appeared to be shifting blame on states for the explosive rise in Covid19 cases, maintaining that it had been in touch with districts despite drop in infections since September last year. In a press conference on Covid19 status in the country, the Union ministry of health and family welfare said that the second wave of Covid-19 is five times the previous peak in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, 4.5 times in Chhattisgarh and 3.3 times in Delhi. The Centre said the spike was the fallout of letting the guard down despite its repeated reminders.

“Karnataka, Kerala, Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Odisha are not only reporting higher peaks but also high Covid-19 case growth trajectory,” said Lav Agrawal, joint secretary in the ministry. “In the second wave, the rate of rise in infection has been rapid which has put immense strain on health infrastructure.” Agarwal however ducked a question when specifically asked whether the Centre had issued specific advisory against organising Kumbh Mela and election rallies.

According to the Centre, the second wave trends have been similar the world over where the second surge has seen the higher number of infections and deaths as compared to the first one. Agarwal also said that the Union government is also closely coordinating with states regarding the availability and supply of medical oxygen and said that 8,593 MT of medical oxygen has been allocated to 23 States. Officials said that about 9,000 MT medical oxygen is being produced in the country and there is no shortage of this crucial supply for pandemic management.

They however added that states have been advised to undertake an oxygen consumption audit in all hospitals including private hospital—some of which were found offering oxygen as part of home care packages for mild Covid19 cases. Judicious use of oxygen is advised, it emphasised.

Meanwhile, on the eve of the major Covid-19 vaccination expansion, the Union health ministry appeared clueless on the initiative and said that the vaccines for the 18-44 age group may be available in states that have coordinated with vaccine manufacturers. The statement by comes as several states expressed doubts over the start of the inoculation drive from Saturday. Owing to vaccine shortage, many states have even expressed inability to continue vaccinating the priority group (above 45 years).