Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Sunday criticised states for ‘under-utilisation’ of COVID-19 funds amid the looming Omicron crisis in India.
In a statement, Mandaviya pointed out that collectively, states and UTs have only used just over 17 per cent of the available and approved funds under the Emergency COVID Response Package (ECRP-II).
Mandaviya brought attention to the high risk of infection that the Omicron variant could possibly cause, and how a peak surge could completely overwhelm the medical system.
States and UTs were called upon to expedite the physical progress under ECRP-II in terms of ICU beds, oxygen beds, paediatric ICU and HDU beds. They were also asked to effectively use information technology tools for tele-medicine and tele-consultation and readiness of states to operationalise COVID facilities for institutional quarantining and supervised monitoring of those in home isolation. The central minister also urged states and UTs to better utilise approved funds under ECRP-II.
Discussing bottlenecks in COVID care, Mandaviya stressed on the continuation of Covid-appropriate behaviour, along with renewed and stringent focus on containment measures for addressing the present surge.
Emphasising the importance of vaccination, the minister observed, “We must focus on planning with regard to the 15-18 age group’s vaccination and precautionary doses for eligible beneficiaries.”
States were also advised to prepare a weekly plan to catch up and exceed the average national vaccination coverage and review implementation of the plan on a daily basis, the statement said. Vaccination drives were especially emphasised for assembly poll-bound states like Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Manipur.