THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, who arrived in Kerala with a central team on Monday to review the COVID-19 situation in the state, said the Centre has allocated Rs 267.35 crore to the state to strengthen its health infrastructure and will also provide it 1.11 crore vaccines in August and September.
In a tweet, subsequent to his "intensive" meeting with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and state Health Minister Veena George, Mandaviya said that besides the Rs 267.35 crore an additional Rs one crore would be made available to each district of Kerala for creating a medicine pool.
He also said that the central government has assured all possible help to Kerala, including providing vaccines to the state.
"Had an intensive meeting with the Chief Minister and Health Minister of Kerala, @VijayanPinarayi ji & Veena George ji, along with State officials to review COVID19 situation in Kerala."
"Central Govt allocates Rs 267.35 crore to Kerala under Emergency COVID Response Package- II. It will strengthen the state's health infrastructure & effectively manage COVID19. Additionally, Rs 1 crore will be made available to each district of Kerala for creating a medicine pool," he tweeted.
Later the Kerala Public Relations Department (PRD) said that the Union Minister assured that the central government will take steps to provide 1.11 crore urgently needed vaccines to the state to combat COVID-19 as was requested by the CM.
Mandaviya also tweeted that the "Central Govt will ensure creation of a Center of Excellence that caters to Telemedicine Facilities in every district in Kerala. For prioritising the health of children, paediatric ICU to be established in district hospitals with a 10 kilo-litre liquid oxygen storage tank facility."
After the meeting with the Kerala CM and Health Minister, Mandaviya also met Governor Arif Mohammed Khan.
"Paid a courtesy call on the Hon'ble Governor of Kerala, Shri Arif Mohammed Khan. We had a discussion on the measures being taken by the Central Govt to support Kerala's fight against COVID19," the Union Minister tweeted.
He also tweeted that he toured the Hindustan Latex Ltd (HLL) unit in Thiruvananthapuram, reviewed its operations and also took stock of the quality of medical products being manufactured there and also visited the COVID facility at the Government Medical College in the state capital.
Giving details of the meeting between the central team, the CM and state health minister, the PRD in a statement said that starting of a vaccine manufacturing unit at the Bio Park in Thiruvananthapuram was discussed and the Union Minister said such an establishment would be beneficial as both COVID and other vaccines can be produced there.
During the meeting, the CM said that 56 per cent of the population was still unaffected by COVID and therefore, more people were likely to get infected in the coming days and in such a scenario the only way out was to vaccinate everyone, including one million guest workers, which is why more vaccines are needed, the PRD statement said.
In the meeting, Mandaviya said the central government was trying to provide necessary assistance to all the state governments and his current visit was part of the same, the PRD said.
According to the PRD, the Union Minister also said that through such visits the Centre gains knowledge of the measures taken by states to defend against COVID-19 and the experiences of the central government can be shared with them He further said that in August, 18 crore vaccines were produced with 20 crore more to be manufactured in September and Kerala will get the number of doses it deserves and any additional demands would be considered sympathetically.
Earlier in the day, the PRD said that Mandaviya lauded the coronavirus prevention steps taken by the state government.
He also termed the healthcare system here as "excellent" and assured availability of more vaccines for Kerala, and praised the lack of vaccine wastage by the state by saying that it has set an example with regard to administration of doses, the PRD said.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan also said that Kerala was ahead of the national average in vaccination and the death rate here was low, it said.
He also said that more attention should be paid during Onam and that those who are in home quarantine should be monitored separately.
Mandaviya and the central team visited Kerala at a time when it was accounting for more than half of the nation's daily fresh infection caseload.
Kerala on Sunday reported 18,582 new COVID-19 cases, which was more than half of the national total of 32,937 fresh coronavirus cases.
On Sunday, the Test Positivity Rate was 15.11 per cent in the state.
The state has administered the first dose of COVID vaccine to more than half its population, state Health Minister Veena George said on Monday.
She said the government has administered the first dose vaccine to 1,77,88,931 persons till now.
"Today is a significant day for the state. We have administered the first dose vaccine to 50.25 per cent of the 3.54 crore population (projected population for 2021). We have achieved this feat within 213 days. The vaccination in the state started on January 16," the minister said in a release.
George said the state has also administered the second dose vaccine to 67,24,294 persons which is 19 per cent of the total population.
"The percentage of second dose recipients in Kerala is more than double the national average. So far, out of the 130 crore people in India, 55,05,20,038 have been vaccinated, including 42,86,81,772 first dose (32.98 per cent) and 12,18,38,266 second dose (9.37 per cent)," the minister said.
George pointed out that women in the state outnumbered men in receiving the jab.
She said 90 per cent of health workers have received the first dose of vaccine compared to 88 per cent at the national level.
At a COVID-19 evaluation meet held in the presence of a central team visiting the state, George said the second wave of the pandemic was delayed in Kerala and the state government focused on giving treatment to all those who reached hospitals.
"We focused on not to overburden the health system and made necessary arrangements accordingly. We have given instructions to increase the number of testing as the number of cases are increasing," she said.
The minister also told the meet that through the telemedicine facility, assistance was provided to 2,32,397 persons.