Punjab Health Minister asks Centre to provide COVID-19 vaccine for free

Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh on Sunday said the Central government should provide COVID-19 vaccine free of cost to Punjab within a stipulated time.

Mr. Sidhu said Punjab has taken stringent measures from time to time to control the pandemic and now, the BJP-led government at the Centre should not backtrack from its duty to supply the vaccine.

“So far, about 5,364 COVID-19 related deaths have taken place in the State, which is about 178 deaths per million. In comparison to Delhi, where a total of 10,577 COVID-19-related deaths have taken place, and with their deaths per million rate relatively high at 528, we are in a way better position than other States. Punjab has a recovery rate of 95% and active cases are declining day by day,” said Mr. Sidhu while addressing a press conference here.

Speaking on Punjab’s vaccination preparedness, Mr. Sidhu said the State is fully prepared for the vaccination drive and has a capacity of vaccinating 4 lakh persons a day. He added that the State has established a robust storage capacity of 1 crore vaccines in its own cold chain centres.

Mr. Sidhu said to ensure that treatment services were available for drug abuse victims during the pandemic, more than 2 lakh new patients (drug abuse victims) were enrolled with various de-addiction centers in the State.

Punjab’s Principal Secretary (Health) Hussan Lal said that the COVID-19 vaccine will be given to about 70 lakh people in the State in a phased manner, including 1.6 lakh health workers, other frontline workers, people aged above 50 and those with co-morbidities aged below 50 years.

“The criteria of age would be counted as on 1 January, 2021. In the first phase, all the 1.6 lakh healthcare workers will be vaccinated on top priority,” he said.

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