Shillong: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Monday sounded that there are possibilities of several fold increase in the number of weeks to come in the State.
Sangma said the state is looking at a tough situation in the next few weeks in combination with a shortage of vaccines that may cause inconvenience to the people.
“We had anticipated that by May 12 we may touch 5,000 COVID-19 cases but we managed to slow things down by imposing lockdown in East Khasi Hills district and restrictions in other districts. But if this trend continues we may go beyond 7000 to 8000 cases or maybe even 10,000 in a short time,” the Chief Minister told reporters.
He said that the government had imposed the lockdown and restrictions mainly to slow down the spread of the virus and during that time build infrastructure and also invest in manpower.
“If we had not done so (lockdown) the situation would have been much worse,” the Chief Minister said.
Anticipating the possibility of rise in COVID-19 cases in the State, Sangma said the government has also decided to set up beds which will be run by the community in different parts of Shillong for cases which do not need hospital support.
“We are looking at a tough situation for the next few weeks but if society and the state works together we are sure that we will be able to overcome this very difficult phase of maybe two-three weeks where we are seeing a rise in cases of pressure on the health care system, shortage of vaccinations. So all these aspects are adding to a lot of pressure but we hope we will see things improve once this particular phase is over,” the Chief Minister said.
Furthermore, Sangma also informed that oxygen cylinders have been doubled from 700 to close to 1500 since the beginning of the second Covid wave in the State.
“Oxygen supported beds have been expanded from 350 to 750 to date. We are hopeful to expand to 1,000 in the next two weeks in East Khasi Hills district,” he said, adding that in the next few days oxygen plants will be installed in Tura, Jowai and Nongpoh and in the next two weeks such facilities will be set up in Nongstoin, Williamnagar, Baghmara and Ampati.
Meghalaya now has almost 750 additional hospital beds. Some of these beds are in the Indian Institute of Management (300) Meghalaya Administrative Training Institute (100) National Institute of Fashion technology (100) and other places.
Sangma also informed that the government has decided to set up corona care centres or isolation centres at the community level to cater to those patients who do not need hospital support.
Stating that the state so far has spent close to Rs. 400 crore, which is substantially lesser than what was spent last year, the Chief Minister said the figures were on the higher side last year as there was chaos all around.
“This time around the expenditure may not be as high as what we had last time. This year however the government has managed the finances better with the help of past experiences. I am not saying it is giving us a blueprint of what to do and what not to do but at least it has given us some kind of idea of a way we could manage things better, the way we could reduce our cost, but that doesn’t mean we would compromise with the health of the people absolutely not,” he underscored.
On the vaccination drive in the state, he said that vaccines remain an important strategy to fight the pandemic.
The Chief Minister informed that on Sunday during his conversation with the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan he suggested that there is a need to saturate vaccination for the smaller states like those in the northeast.
“I have suggested that some states with smaller populations like Meghlaya may be allowed to quickly vaccinate the population,” he said, adding that the state requires 30 lakh vaccines for the 18-44 age category.
The vaccination drive for the 45 plus age category is going on and the state is likely to receive more vaccines in the days to come, Sangma informed.