Bengal imposes more Covid restrictions, Mamata writes to PM on vaccines, medical oxygen

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on May 05, 2021

Mamata Banerjee

Seeks 500 MT/day of medical oxygen.

Minutes after swearing-in as Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee has shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi apprising him of the increasing need for medical oxygen, and shortage of vaccines and Covid-medicines.

The state has been reporting over 17,000 fresh covid cases every day over the last seven days; while Phase-III vaccination has been stopped in private hospitals since May 1 because of the absence of stocks. However, the state-run hospitals, many out of vials, are expected to restart vaccination tomorrow onwards (second jab to be prioritised first).


Banerjee claimed Bengal’s oxygen requirements have almost doubled to 400 MT per day at present, up from the previous 220 MT per day. She sought an extra allotment of 100 MT per day, to 500 MT/day, over the next seven days, in view of increasing requirements.

“Consumption of medical oxygen has improved considerably...which is likely to rise to 500 MT per day over the next 7 days. Concerned authorities may kindly be advised to allocate 500 MT of medical oxygen out of total oxygen produced in Bengal so as to prevent shortage,” she wrote.

Oxygen cylinders are in short supply while plans are afoot to set up pressure swing absorption (PSA) oxygen plants, the letter added seeking help in making alternative arrangements.

The state’s daily requirement of essential drugs like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab is to the tune of 10,000 and 1,000 respectively. Adequate availability of these medicines has to be ensured also, she urged.

“There must be some transparency in allotments,” Chief Minister said after an emergency meeting in the state secretariat.

More vaccines sought

Banerjee, in her letter, further added that “universal vaccination” has to be pushed in a “transparent and time-bound manner”.

Vaccine availability is currently “inadequate” and needs to be looked into as a “core issue now”.

“Against a requisitioned 3 crore vaccines, we got around 4 lakh; which is nominal. We have asked the Centre to increase the numbers. I have also sought permission to buy vaccines from the Centre,” the CM said.

Expands partial lockdown rules

Meanwhile, the state government has expanded the partial lockdown rules currently in force here.

Local train movements will be completely stopped from tomorrow, while Metro Railway and public transport (buses) will operate at 50 per cent capacities.

From May 7, all air passengers coming into the state will need a 72-hour-mandatory RT-PCR negative test report. In addition, airports have been asked to make arrangements for 14-day-quarantine facilities for positive passengers or those without a negative RT-PCR report.

Similarly, negative Covid reports have been made mandatory for anyone coming into the state via trains or long-distance buses (including inter-state ones).

Gyms, shopping malls, sports complex, multiplex and theatres will remain closed “till further orders”; while gatherings, including political ones, have been banned.

The state government will also take the help of quacks in interior rural areas to deal with the spread of Covid infections. The guidelines and training will be issued soon.

Published on May 05, 2021

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