Uttar Pradesh’s handling of the second wave of COVID-19 cases was “unparalleled”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared Thursday morning during a visit to his constituency of Varanasi.
The Prime Minister also said UP – which recorded over 30,000 new cases daily at the peak of the second wave, up from a record single-day high of 7,016 cases in the first – had “stood up and battled the virus efficiently”, and that its management of the pandemic was “worthy of praise”.
“UP stood up and battled the virus efficiently… is India’s most populous state but the manner in which Uttar Pradesh handled and controlled the pandemic is worthy of praise. UP’s handling of the second wave of COVID-19 has been unparalleled,” the Prime Minister said.
Expressing his admiration for healthcare and frontline workers of the state, the Prime Minister also hailed UP for “the maximum number of vaccinations in the country”.
Data from the centre’s CoWIN platform says UP had administered 3.89 crore doses so far.
“I am immensely thankful and grateful for all the ‘corona warriors’ and all those who have come and helped in these trying times. Today, UP has done the maximum vaccinations in the country. A vaccine for all… a free vaccine… is the aim of the government and it is being done,” the PM said.
The praise for Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his administration comes a day after the Supreme Court issued a notice over its decision to allow the Kanwar Yatra, despite warnings from medical experts about large gatherings allowing the coronavirus to spread further and faster.
The top court said Indian citizens were left “perplexed” by the state’s decision, particularly as it came after the Prime Minister’s call to avoid large gatherings and follow Covid-appropriate behaviour to ensure a third wave of infections does not strike.
On Tuesday, the UP government said the yatra could take place from July 25 with a “minimum number of people”, and with “strict implementation of COVID-19 protocol”. Negative RT-PCR tests could be made compulsory, if required, a state official was quoted by news agency PTI.
The Prime Minister’s praise aside, the UP government has actually faced widespread criticism over its handling of the pandemic, including when bodies of suspected Covid patients were found floating on the Ganga in May and June.
More such bodies were discovered in shallow graves along the banks of the holy river.
The UP government refuted reports that the deaths were linked to the pandemic, and claimed that burial by the river is a long-standing tradition.