NEW DELHI: A decision on booster dose and Covid jabs for children will be taken on the basis of scientific guidance from experts, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Friday even as India stepped up surveillance for Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Replying to an 11-hour-long debate on the COVID-19 pandemic in Lok Sabha, Mandaviya said RT-PCR tests have been conducted on 16,000 passengers from "at-risk" countries, of whom 18 have tested positive for COVID-19.
The minister said the swab samples of these 16 passengers have been sent for genome sequencing to screen for the Omicron variant of the virus.
During the debate on Thursday, several members had flagged the issue of booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines and had expressed concern over the new variant of the virus, two cases of which were detected in the country.
Mandaviya hit out at the opposition for making a political issue on the availability of ventilators, which were funded through the PM-CARES Fund, and hailed the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the testing times.
He said orders were placed for the supply of 58,000 ventilators, mostly with public sector companies, and 50,200 breathing machines had been delivered to states and 48,000 have been installed at various hospitals.
Besides ventilators, the government also ensured availability of Covid protocol medicines across the country to ensure that the states did not appear wanting in the fight against the pandemic.
Mandaviya also slammed the opposition parties for creating doubts about homegrown vaccines which affected the vaccination drive.
"Opposition-ruled states promised support during meetings with the prime minister, but went back on their words and tried to weaken the nation's fight against COVID-19," the minister said.
To questions on the vaccination drive, the minister said the government was committed to fully vaccinate all the eligible beneficiaries.
He said 85 per cent of the beneficiaries have received the first dose, while 50 per cent have been fully vaccinated.
He dared Lok Sabha members to ensure 100 per cent vaccination in their respective constituencies to speed up the inoculation drive.
"Twenty-two crore vaccine doses are already available with the states and the Centre will make available an additional 10 crore this month, Mandaviya said, and added that the government had started Har Ghar Dastak' (knock on every door) campaign to speed up vaccination.
Mandaviya said the Modi government had embarked on strengthening the health infrastructure across the country without blaming previous governments who had ignored the sector.
Government worked for results. In last two years, decisions under leadership of Prime Minister Modi show that this government works not with power, but with will power, the minister said.