New Delhi: With the number of COVID-19 cases rising rapidly across the country, the Centre on Wednesday (April 7) hit out at Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh governments over their alleged failure to control the spread of infection in their states.

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the allegations of vaccine shortage were utterly baseless and that it was an attempt by the state governments to divert attention from their own failures.

“Deplorable attempts by some state governments to distract attention from their failures and spread panic among the people,” Dr Harsh Vardhan was quoted as saying by ANI.

“I have seen statements made by public representatives in Maharashtra about shortage of vaccines. This is nothing but an attempt to divert attention from Maharashtra government’s repeated failures to control the spread of pandemic,” he added.

“Inability of Maharashtra govt to act responsibly is beyond comprehension. To spread panic among the people is to compound the folly further. Vaccine supplies are being monitored on a real-time basis, and State governments are being apprised regularly about it,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said.

“Allegations of vaccine shortage utterly baseless. Throughout last year as Union Health Minister I have been witness to misgovernance and casual approach of Maharashtra government in battling virus. Their lackadaisical attitude singularly bogged down country’s efforts to fight virus,” he added.

He further said that performance of Maharashtra government in terms of vaccinating healthcare and frontline workers was not great, adding that it was shocking to see how state government is putting Maharashtrians in danger by letting people escape institutional quarantine mandate for the sake of their “personal Vasuli”.

‘Chhattisgarh only government in the world to have incited vaccine hesitancy’

Highlighting the disproportionately higher mortality rate in Chhattisgarh, the minister blamed the state government for refusing to use Covaxin.

“Chhattisgarh has seen disproportionately higher number of deaths in the last 2-3 weeks. Their testing remains heavily dependent on rapid antigen tests which is not a wise strategy,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said

“Chhattisgarh government refused to use Covaxin despite it being given emergency use authorization by DCGI. Not only this, by its actions, leaders of the state govt have dubious distinction of being perhaps only government in the world to have incited vaccine hesitancy,” he added.

The union minister also pointed out other states that “need to bring their healthcare systems up to the mark”.

“Quality of testing needs to improve in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Gujarat. In Punjab, high case fatality rate needs to be improved by early identification of those needing hospitalization,” he said.

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