Standard protocol for lockdowns sought

Maharashtra Health Minister urges Centre to begin inoculation for 12-15 age group

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Monday urged the Centre to set a standard protocol for lockdowns and restrictions for all States, amid rapidly rising COVID-19 cases.

Speaking in Jalna district, the Health Minister, who supervising a vaccination drive for teenagers aged between 15 and 18 years, also urged the Centre to begin inoculation for the 12-15 age group.

“The definition of lockdown is different in different States. In Maharashtra, the criterion we have set is if the bed occupancy exceeds 40% and oxygen consumption rises above 700 metric tonnes (MT). I have come to know that a lockdown has started in Haryana, and that stern restrictions are imposed in Delhi. So, we have requested that a standard protocol for restrictions be issued by the Central government,” he said.

Mr. Tope also urged the Centre for a rethink on the screening and testing policy for those arriving from abroad.

“The Omicron variant has spread to every country and there remains no issue now of high-risk and low-risk countries. The Central government should guide as they have formulated the screening and testing policy for international travellers,” the Minister said.

Appreciating the Centre’s decision to begin vaccination among the 15-18 age group which was vulnerable to the new COVID-19 variant, Mr. Tope said he had urged the Central government, during his recent online meeting with the Union Health Minister, for 40 lakh doses of the Covishield vaccine and 50 lakh Covaxin doses.

Mr. Tope sought the Centre’s intervention to bring down the prohibitive costs of monoclonal antibodies needed to treat some COVID-19 patients and make them available widely.

“Another important antiviral drug, Molnupiravir, should also be made available in sufficient quantity as its demand will be high, like Remdesivir. The Central government has also told us that 13 companies have been instructed to produce Molnupiravir,” he said.

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