New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Amid an acute shortage of medical oxygen for COVID-19 patients across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday held a high-level meeting with chief ministers and representatives of 11 worst-hit states and union territories (UTs) and asked them to ensure that O2 tankers, meant for any state, are stopped or should not get stranded.

Assuring the Centre's full support to all states, PM Modi stressed that the country needs to work together and coordinate with one another to fulfil the requirements relating to oxygen and essential services to fight the deadly COVID-19 infection.

"This Coordination Committee should ensure that as soon as there is allotment of oxygen from the centre, it can deliver oxygen as per requirement in different hospitals of the state immediately," the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement.

The Prime Minister also requested the chief ministers to 'strictly' deal with hoarding and black marketing of medical oxygen and essential medical supplies to ensure that there is no "scarcity of resources".

He also said that the central government has deployed the Railways and the Indian Air Force to reduce travel and turnaround time for oxygen tankers.

"For this, Railways has started Oxygen Express. Empty Oxygen tankers are also being transported by the Air Force to reduce one way travel time," the PMO said.

PM Modi, however, also stressed that the country needs to focus on the mantra of 'test, track and treat' to break the chain of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also stressed that the vaccination drive should not slow down in India in the current situation.

"PM Modi mentioned that India is running the world’s largest vaccination programme and so far, more than 15 crore vaccine doses have been provided free of cost to the states by the Government of India," the PMO said.

Friday was PM Modi's third meeting with chief minister in the last five weeks. Earlier ones were held on March 17 and April 8. Chief ministers of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi are among those who attended the meeting.

Apart from the CMs, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, and officials of the Health Minister were also present at the meeting on Friday.

The meeting via video conferencing comes amid a huge surge in coronavirus cases, which have now clocked a daily total of over 3 lakh in the country.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma