Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Monday said the state has congratulated the Centre for starting the C-19 vaccination of children in the 15-18 age group, but at the same time also requested it to allow those in the 12-15 age bracket to get inoculated.
Talking to reporters in Jalna after the commencement of the vaccination drive for the 15-18 age group, Tope said the central government should also rethink on the testing policy for those arriving from foreign countries.
"The Omicron variant has reached every country and there remains no issue now of high-risk and low-risk countries. The central government should guide over this issue as this policy is framed by it," the minister said.
The minister also sought from the Centre a standard protocol for curbs to check the spread of Covid-19.
"We have congratulated the central government for starting the vaccination of 15-18 age group. But, at the same time we have placed some demands to tackle the virus spread. We have urged the central government to also undertake the vaccination of children in the 12 to 15 age group," the minister said.
"We also need 40 lakh doses of Covishield and 50 lakh doses of Covaxin to give booster shots to those working in the essential and healthcare sectors and those (above 60 years of age) who have co-morbidities," he said.
Tope also said that monoclonal antibodies, needed to treat some COVID-19 patients, are expensive. So, the central government should intervene and see the costs of these medicines are brought down and they are available in sufficient numbers.
"Another important antiviral drug, Molnupiravir, should also be made available in sufficient quantity as its demand will be high like Remdesivir. The central government has also told us that 13 companies are instructed to produce Molnupiravir," he said.
The testing kits used to differentiate between Omicron and Delta infections should also be made available at affordable prices, so that this testing is not costly, he said.
Tope also demanded a standard protocol for restrictions to stem the spread of COVID-19.
"The definition of lockdown is different in different states. We have set a criteria of 40 per cent bed occupancy and 700 metric ton of oxygen consumption for the lockdown. I have come to know that a lockdown has started in Haryana, and there are strict restrictions in Delhi. We have requested that a standard protocol of restrictions be issued by the central government," he said.