Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel | Photo: ANI
File photo of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel | ANI
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Raipur: As the second wave of Covid-19 sweeps the country, Chhattisgarh is one of five states contributing to 62 per cent of the total active cases in the country. Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said the state would have handled the situation better had the central government issued alerts on time to prepare for a possible second wave.

According to data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Chhattisgarh recorded a total of 5,74,299 cases, with 6,274 deaths and 1,35,688 recoveries, as of 20 April. And the state continues to battle shortage of beds and increasing deaths.

Speaking to ThePrint over the telephone, CM Bhupesh Baghel said the disease is more severe this time compared to the first wave, and that this has added to the spike, for which he also blamed neigbhouring Maharashtra.

He, however, said the government has ramped up health infrastructure in the state.

Baghel also said there is no shortage of oxygen or remdesivir, the anti-viral drug used in treatment of the novel coronavirus in hospital settings, but Covid vaccines are in short supply from the Centre, which he said is affecting the state’s vaccination drive.

‘State has been hit hard’

In the last one month, total cases have almost doubled in the state, to 5,58,674 cases on 19 April from 3,21,880 on 19 March.

Baghel said the state has been hit hard in the second wave, because the Centre didn’t alert states. “During the first wave, we had sealed the borders early so we managed to contain the spread. But as far as the second wave is concerned, the Centre did not issue any alert to the states. They knew about it but they did not issue any alerts,” he said Tuesday.

He blamed neighbouring Maharashtra and the migrant population in the border district of Rajnandgaon for the current spike.

“The second issue about the second wave is that from the district of Rajnandgaon, Maharashtra starts through Nagpur. We have a migratory population there and people keep going and coming. Several families have temporary homes in Nagpur and they work there and people keep coming and going back,” he said.

“When lockdown was imposed in Maharashtra around Holi, people suddenly came back to the villages in Rajnandgaon, which contributed to the spike, which is why we saw a huge spike in April even though cases were under control in March.”


Also read: Why PM Modi putting faith before science on Covid is damaging India’s reputation abroad


‘Second wave unlike the first’

What has added to the spike in the second wave is the severity of the disease in comparison to the first, explained Baghel.

“Last year, people would get discharged in eight days. But now symptoms are surfacing on the 8th day. Last time, the symptoms were only fever, cough, cold and breathing difficulties. But now along with all this there is a dip in oxygen levels, high fever is persisting and we are seeing blood clots, cardiac arrest, brain haemorrhage as well,” he said.

“In March, only a few dozen people required oxygen support. Now that number has risen to 6,000.”

ThePrint reported last week how there is a severe shortage of beds across the state, especially in capital Raipur.

The chief minister, however, said the health infrastructure has been ramped up since his government came to power.

“If you compare with 2018, we had only 200 ICU beds in the state in government hospitals, while now we have 554. We had only 35 ventilators, now we have 536. There were no oxygen beds back in 2018. Now we have over 6,000 oxygen beds in government hospitals and 6,000 in private hospitals. There are also 1,739 ICU beds and close to 1,000 oxygen and ventilator beds in private hospitals,” he said.

Baghel said the process of adding beds is continuing as “we don’t know when the second wave will end and when the third wave will come”.

‘No shortage of oxygen, remdesivir’

Unlike other high burden states like Maharashtra and Delhi that have been complaining of oxygen shortage, Baghel said Chhattisgarh has enough of it. “Twenty seven companies produce oxygen here and another two make liquid oxygen. We have a capacity to produce 386 metric tonnes of oxygen. Our need is 103 metric tonnes now. If this increases to 150 MT also, we will be fine,” he said.

With enough oxygen, the state is also “supplying oxygen to other states including Maharashtra, MP, Tamil Nadu”, the CM said.

Chhattisgarh is also not short of remdesivir, according to Baghel. “We are not seeing long queues and a scramble for remdesivir as (is happening) in other states. We have empowered district collectors to procure remdesivir directly. Today only, we have got 20,000 vials in addition to the 35,000 vials we had earlier,” he said.

‘Fewer vaccines coming from Centre’

On the Centre opening up vaccinations for all adults from 1 May, Baghel welcomed the move but questioned how supply would meet the demand. “They have opened vaccination for all adults but are there enough vaccines? How will production be ramped up? The Centre is mum on all this,” he said.

Chhattisgarh is already rationing vaccines, Baghel alleged. “Our capacity is 3-3.5 lakh vaccine per day. But fewer vaccines are coming from the Centre. We can’t open centres and not give vaccines, so only vaccinating 2-2.5 lakh a day, which is below our capacity.”

He also accused the Centre of first ridiculing advice from opposition-ruled states and then implementing the same. “They consider themselves to know it all. They don’t want to take advice from anyone but now they are doing everything that we suggested. I was the first to suggest vaccinations for all adults. Manmohan Singh’s letter also said that. They are doing what we suggested but won’t take our advice as they are plain arrogant,” Baghel alleged.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mazumdar)


Also read: PM Modi’s speech was short – on answers that Indians demand of him during second Covid wave


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12 COMMENTS

  1. Mr Guptha why are you so biased,the print in January published an article saying that central govt warned states like Chattisgarh of raising covid cases,now you say the central didnt warned the states,why dont your young journalist , trained by you didnt questioned about the central’s warning, comfortably you kept that matter away, you didnt dictated that question to your so called young journalist,hats of to you , youre sowing bad karma sure you will harvset [ reap ] it one day, it is very soon .

  2. Mr Guptha follow press ethics you may say youre publishing what the CM said,doesnt fit in this matter,you yourself i the print published in january that central alerted these states of raising covid cases,in your interview why the print didnt quetioned him about this,if youre neutral your young journalist trained by you should have done this,youre are sowing bad karma sure you will harvest it.

  3. He is lying through his teeth. Cases jumped in Raipur first, where he had hosted the Road safety cricket (With Sachin, Sehwag and all) it drew huge crowds, they spread it across the states, and even in neighboring states. We had large queues for Remdesivir and pleas for oxygen. promptly putting the onus on others. The shameless Bhupesh Baghel!

  4. Did you not hear news from whole world ? Did you NOT see numbers from Maharashtra ? you were busy with Assam polls. just playing politics, blaming center to divert attention from numbers in your state

  5. So what is your govt doing? Blaming is the easiest job you can do. Chattisgarh govt is more responsible for casual approach.

  6. He is useless CM…..As he doesn’t has eyes, ears and brains to analyze whats going on ….He depends on Modi only.

  7. Baghel sahab aap aur aapki machinery kya beedi ke patte bin rahe the jungle main.

    Every citizen is the culprit here including all public figures.

  8. Mr Baghel organized cricket tournaments in Chattisgarh inspite of knowing that a nearby state Maharashtra is doing very bad on Covid. This is the reason of Covid in his state.

  9. Why should he alert? Then, how can he succeed in vaccine business? Also, As a data scientist, I wonder how the number of new corona cases in India has gone up from <10,000 to 300,000 just in 3-4 weeks. I tend to believe that virus has been spread by any ominous body/agency. I don't know who can spread such virus so fast other than our own government (s).

  10. Was having fun attending Road Safety series with a full stadium when cases in Raipur had already started rising. Didn’t follow the footsteps of Ahmedabad which conducted closed door T20 series. Or Mumbai which conducted a Match of road safety series in closed door .

  11. If everything is the Central Govt’s fault then what are these incompetent clowns in state govts ‘governing’? They show how ignorant & idiotic they are by making silly statements.
    Who are these morons fooling?

Comments are closed.