NEW DELHI 25 april 2021 SUNDAY `12 PAGES 24 facebook/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard https://epaper.morningstandard.in PLUS: 12 PAGES MAGAZINE Vaccine Tourism is Here E x c l u s i v e V o i ce s The Covid Generation Announcement Dear reader, India is going through its worst phase of the Covid pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of people are struggling, many in vain, to exercise their right to live, as a ramshackle universal healthcare system proves that it has no answers to the challenges posed by a creepy bug. The health ministry’s daily bulletins of fresh positive cases and fatalities have hit the stratosphere, so have SOS messages from individuals and hospitals seeking oxygen refill and lifesaving medicines. Hospitals refuse fresh admissions for want of Covid beds. The rush at crematoriums is heart-breaking. Most of us already have friends or relatives who have succumbed to Covid-19 or are battling for life. In such a tragic time, we find it incongruous that the festival of cricket is on in India, with layers of bio bubbles creating protection. This is commercialism gone crass. The problem is not with the game but its timing. Cricket, too, must accept that we are passing through an unprecedented crisis. In the circumstances, The Sunday Standard and The Morning Standard will suspend IPL coverage in the newspaper with immediate effect till a semblance of normalcy is restored. This is a small gesture towards keeping the nation’s attention focused on life and death issues. We are sure that our readers will see the point. These are times when we must stand as one nation with one resolve. — Editor Express read Union minister in ICU after testing positive Chandigarh: Union minister Som Parkash, who had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, is on oxygen support in an ICU of a private hospital in Mohali where doctors were closely monitoring his condition. Parkash (72), Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry and BJP MP from Hoshiarpur, had tweeted earlier this week, stating that he tested positive for the infection. new cji Justice ramana 48th to assume this role Medical emergency biggest challenge as he takes charge for 16 months amid pandemic The Yogini’s Manifestations Take it Easy Shankkar Aiyar T J S George N Sathiya Moorthy Ravi Shankar Mortality rate has to be reduced, Delhi High Court tells government Pushpesh Pant Anand Neelakantan Anuja Chandramouli Sathya Saran Fashion’s Zen Master Delhi suffocates as demand of life-saving gas soars amid rising tallies Architect of Stories Coming of Musical Age Shortage of oxygen has become a national calamity. People form a queue at a refilling unit in Kanpur on Saturday as demand for the precious gas keeps rising | Pti HC asks Centre of steps taken to contain ‘tsunami’ k a n u sa r da @ New Delhi Delhi High Court on Saturday pulled up the Centre and Delhi government for passing the buck, in the middle of a pandemic and directed them to ensure smooth supply and distribution of oxygen to hospitals in the national capital. The court said that persons with low immunity might succumb to the virus but the present problem is, people who could have been saved are also dying. “The mortality rate needs to be reduced,” the bench, referring to a study by a team of IIT scientists which says India may experience the peak between May 11-15, with 33-35 lakh total active cases. “We are calling it a wave, it is actually a tsunami,” the court said. It asked the Centre how prepared it is in terms of infrastructure, hospitals, medical staff, medicines, vaccines and oxygen for the peak. It also asked the Centre when the 480 metric tonne (MT) of daily oxygen allocated for Delhi would see the light of the day . Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said there might be a rapid rise in May and June and the country needs to be ready for the worst. He explained how the government is working round the clock to import oxygen sup- ply and exploring possibilities of generating oxygen. The court was hearing submissions by the counsel for Delhi’s Maharaja Agrasen Hospital, Jaipur Golden Hospital, Batra Hospital and Saroj Super Speciality Hospital over shortage of oxygen for treating seriously ill Covid patients. “States are arranging tankers. We are just assisting them. But in Delhi, everything is put on us. Delhi officials have to do their job,” the Centre said. “I know many things. But am not saying. Let’s try and not be a cry baby,” Mehta said in response to Delhi government lawyer Rahul Mehra’s complaint that the Centre was not complying with allocation guidelines. During the hearing, the court also questioned the Delhi government officers what steps they have taken to get the supply of oxygen allocated by the Centre. The court observed that while the tankers are ready to be transported by train, Delhi government had not been able to make arrangements. “In case security arrangements are required, Delhi Police shall provide the same to the hospitals facing oxygen shortage,” the court added. “We know how people react (when they lose their loved ones). Let’s not have a law and order situation,” the court said. Judges warn of stringent action against violators During the urgent hearing on Saturday, the bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli warned that it will ‘hang’ any person who tries to obstruct oxygen supplies to hospitals. It meant that if reports of blocking the way of oxygen-carrying vehicles come to the fore, stringent measures will be taken against those found guilty. In the past few days, several state governments have complained of such incidents. Amid the tremendous shortage of medical oxygen in the national capital, catastrophe struck at a private hospital, taking 20 lives on Saturday . At least 20 Covid patients were left without oxygen at Jaipur Golden Hospital, which caused their death in the wee hours. Totally dependent on high-flow medical oxygen, these critically ill patients were undergoing treatment at the hospital, which has moved court demanding oxygen. “The loss of lives happened because our oxygen was late by seven hours. We needed good pressure which could not be maintained. This worsened the situation,” DK Baluja, MD of Jaipur Golden Hospital, told this newspaper on Saturday . The director said that the crisis is far from over, as despite several SOS calls, they have just four hours of oxygen left at the hospital. The situation could again take a turn for the worse if something is not done immediately . In Delhi, which saw the death of 25 patients at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital a day earlier, the clamour for oxygen from hospitals was heard throughout the day . Some said they are left with stock only for a few hours. Hundreds of patients are admitted in different hospitals. Many helpless hospital administrations are advising patients to relocate or make ar- We got 1500 tons last night after running from pillar to post and appealing to everyone. We have to do that again, because we do not have sufficient supply. DK Baluja, MD of Jaipur Golden Hospital Body: The First Gift Medical facilities busy treating patients, no time to install machinery to produce O2 Capital shortage of oxygen keeps taking its toll, 20 dead in hospital S i d d h a n ta M i s h r a & Pa r v e z s u lta n @ New Delhi sadhguru speaks rangements for the gas on their own. Shortage was reported from Moolchand Hospital, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, Saroj Hospital, Mata Chanan Devi Hospital, Batra Hospital, Maharaja Agrasen Hospital and several nursing homes. Batra Hospital, which approached the Delhi High Court, said it needs 8,000 litres of oxygen, adding that it manage with 6,000 litres. The hospital said it was given only 500 litres this morning. “We can’t manage,” the hospital told the court. The court in its order said: “We are not in the position to direct (supply of oxygen to particular hospitals). We are trying to do what we can. It’s not that Delhi government has oxygen. We are also concerned about the lives.” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has written letters to all the Chief Ministers of the country asking for help. Relative of a patient at Delhi’s Jaipur Golden Hospital, where at least 20 Covid-19 patients died on Friday | Pti PSA plants that generate the precious gas not in demand s u m i s u k a n ya d u t ta @ New Delhi The rise in requirement of the oxygen has led to a near collapse of the system, but hospitals seeking frantic interventions say that their first priority is to ensure oxygen to save lives rather than scrambling to instal PSA oxygen generation plants. Experts say that installing an PSA oxygen generation plant — imported ones cost about `1 crore — takes only a week, but hospitals have never felt the need to do because the present system, managed through a robust production and supply system for normal times, worked well. “However, the demand has nearly doubled, while the supply has been terribly erratic,” a senior official from Sir Ganga Ram Super Speciality Hospital told this newspaper. The official explained that the storage-refill system had been working well until the avalanche of Covid-19 patients. At Jaipur Golden Hospital in Delhi, where 20 deaths were reported on Friday due to oxygen shortage, medical director DK Baluja said even its supply of 3.6 MT everyday af, ter rationing by Delhi government, is not met with. He, however, has much more pressing concerns than to arrange for a PSA plant which produces oxygen not considered very pure for medical use when compared to liquid medical oxygen. Such is the enormity of the situation that many hospitals in the capital are now getting attendants of critical patients to sign undertakings that hospitals will not be responsible if patients die due to oxygen scarcity . Government to buy vaccine at `150 in new policy e x p r e ss n e ws s e r v i c e @ New Delhi The Centre on Saturday clarified that it will continue to procure Covid-19 vaccines Covishield and Covaxin at Rs 150 per dose when the new inoculation policy under which the ini, tiative will be decentralised, comes into effect from May 1. Under the new vaccination regime, all above 18 years will be eligible for jabs, but the Centre will procure only 50 % supply from the vaccine makers. The rest of the supply will be available to state governments and private hospitals for direct procurement. Following the announcement on the new vaccination policy by the Narendra Modi government, Serum Institute of India, manufacturer of Covishield which comprises over 90 % of all vaccine doses administered in India so far, said it will be available for Rs 400 per dose to states and Rs 600 per dose to private hospitals. SII, facing criticism for its new pricing, said it was “inaccurate comparisons between the global prices of the vaccine with India”, and said Covishield is the “most affordable Covid-19 vaccine” in the market. “Only a limited portion of SII’s volume will be sold to private hospitals at Rs 600 per dose. The price of the vaccine is still lower than a lot of other medical treatment and essentials required to treat Covid-19 and other life-threatening diseases,” SII said in its statement. “Initial prices (of Covishield) were kept very low globally as it was based on advance funding given by those countries for at-risk vaccine manufacturing. The initial supply price for all government immunisation programmes, including India, has been the lowest,” The company also said that while the current situation is “dire; the virus is constantly mutating while the public remains at risk... we have to ensure sustainability .” Page 8 Fresh avalanche claims 10 in Chamoli v i n e e t u pa d h yay @ Dehradun A little over two months after the deadly glacier burst and avalanche that claimed hundreds of lives in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli, a similar incident has hit the same district. There was another avalanche caused presumably by a glacier break in Malari-Sumna region in Niti Valley near the Tibet border on Friday A total of 10 bod. ies have been recovered and 384 persons rescued. Swati Bhadauria, district magistrate of Chamoli, said: “Rescue operations are underway and the injured have been airlifted to Joshimath. One has to be referred to in Dehradun.” Officials said that a majority of the victims are from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Rescue workers stuck in snow in the affected area | express There are also a few from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and elsewhere. They were working at a road project under the Border Roads Organisation. According to estimates, around 430 persons were staying in two camps for the workers when the avalanche followed by the glacier break struck. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat after con- ducting an aerial survey said: “Operations by combined teams of Indian Army Nation, al Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Force and district administration are underway in full swing. No damages have been reported from nearby villages.” The avalanche hit the camp at around 4pm. Rescue operations were launched immediately, but efforts got delayed due to bad weather. Though an army camp is located at about just three kilometres from the spot, snowfall and rain impeded rescue efforts. Officials from BRO said that access points are blocked. The higher reaches of hilly areas of Uttarakhand including Niti Valley received 4-5 feet of snowfall recently . CBI registers FIR against Deshmukh, searches properties as NCP cries foul e x p r e ss n e ws s e r v i c e @ Mumbai The CBI on Saturday registered an FIR against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in an alleged corruption case and also carried out searches at multiple locations linked to him and his close associates. Anil Deshmukh has been charged under Section 7 of the amended Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with illegal gratification obtained by a public servant and IPC Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy). Deshmukh has said he will cooperate with the probe agency . The FIR was registered on April 21 after the CBI satisfied itself that there was enough evidence to proceed with a regular case against Deshmukh. The searches could not be launched immediately as the team had to first get an RT-PCR test done for COVID-19. The probe agency seized electronic gadgets and incriminating documents from four locations across Maharashtra in a case related to Deshmukh and others. Deshmukh belongs to the NCP a party of the three-party , ruling alliance in the state. State party chief Jayant Patil on Saturday termed the FIR against his party colleague as political vendetta for settling political scores. He said the CBI was overstepping its mandate. “The Bombay High Court had asked it to conduct a primary inquiry and submit the report. What happened with the report? Has the report been submitted? No one knows the details of the report.” What was the role of former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh? There are many questions, but Central agencies are busy working on a political agenda —Nawab Malik, NCP minister in Maharashtra
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