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Centre Extends Vaccination Facility to Workplaces as Spike Creates New Record

Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Apr 7: With the number of daily new cases creating an all-time new record on Wednesday, the union government has decided to extend vaccination facilities to work places if there are more than 100 recipients in one centre.

After a marginal dip on Tuesday, the number of daily new cases in India shot up a record 1.15 lakhs on Wednesday, the highest ever so far. It was the second time in the past three days that India’s single-day rise in coronavirus cases has breached the one lakh mark. A total of 1,15,736 infections were reported in a day, while the death toll increased to 1,66,177 with 630 daily new fatalities, according to Health ministry data.

Monday had recorded 1.03 lakh new cases breaching the last year’s highest ever 98,000 odd cases a day in September when virus spread was at its peak in the country.

In a bid to curb the spike, the centre on Wednesday wrote to the states and union territories to launch Covid-19 vaccinations at workplaces from Sunday, April 11, provided there is an availability of at least 100 eligible and willing beneficiaries.

“…in order to increase the access of the vaccine to these populations, Covid-19 vaccination sessions may be organized at work places (both public and private) which are having about 100 eligible and willing beneficiaries by tagging these work places with an existing Covid vaccination centre (CVC). .. Please initiate due consultations with public and private sector employers and management to prepare for launch of work place vaccination. Such work place vaccination centres may be launched across states and UTs from April 11, 2021,” wrote Union health secretary, Rajesh Bhushan, to all state chief secretaries and principal secretary (health).

The idea behind the move is to rapidly cover the eligible beneficiaries who are prone to getting severe Covid-19, and also to make it convenient for working professionals to access the vaccination. It will also ensure that people do not need to travel to get vaccinated, therefore, avoiding the risk of contracting the viral infection.

“A substantial proportion of population aged 45 years and above are in the organized sector of the economy, and is involved in formal occupation in offices (government and private)…” the letter further read.

The threshold of 100 minimum eligible beneficiaries has been set to have optimal vaccine utilization, and to avoid wastage as far as possible.

It will be the responsibility of the district task force— chaired by district magistrate— and urban task force— chaired by municipal commissioner— to identify government and private workplaces after due deliberation with relevant employers and head of offices, the letter said.

The office management will designate an employee as a nodal officer to oversee and facilitate all aspects of the vaccination process in office.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra, the worst-hit in the Covid crisis, told the centre that the state was left with only three days’ vaccine stock. The state health minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday urged the Centre to expedite the delivery of vaccine doses to the State.

Speaking to reporters in Mumbai, Tope remarked that the State daily vaccination rate was the fastest in the country and said Maharashtra needed a stable supply of at least 40 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccines each week.

The State, which contributes to more than 65% of the country’s active cases, has been reporting unprecedented single-day surges of over 50,000 cases in the past few days.

“At present, we just have 14 lakh vaccine doses which will get over in the next three days. We’ve asked for 40 lakh more vaccine doses per week. At the moment, Maharashtra is reeling under a severe shortage with many districts and vaccination centers reporting that they have no doses to give,” said the Health Minister.

With Punjab also witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced extension of night curfew to the entire State and ordered a ban on political gatherings. Singh said those violating the ban on political gatherings, including leaders, would be booked under the Disaster Management Act and the Epidemics Diseases Act.

In Madhya Pradesh, the state government has decided to procure Remdesivir injections so that they could be provided free of cost for the treatment of critical COVID-19 patients from the economically weaker sections, the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said on Wednesday.

Remdesivir is considered a key anti-viral drug in the fight against COVID-19, especially in adult patients with severe complications.

Chouhan said the state government had also decided to set up one COVID-19 care centre in each district of state so that the infected people (who are advised home quarantine) having smaller houses could stay there.