TUESDAY 27 APRIL, 2021 epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard FROM THE COURT HC SLAMS CENTRE & DELHI GOVT Don’t pass the buck & get the job done immediately, says two-member bench PAGE 4 A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 Vaccination free in capital, Kejriwal says ‘only solution’ E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi DELHI Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced vaccination will be free for everyone above the age of 18 in Delhi. Amid the Covid-19 carnage in the national capital, Kejriwal sees vaccination as the only long-term solution. For now, his government will buy 1.34 crore vaccine doses. “The only solution seems to be the vaccine and ensuring a swift administration campaign for it. The Delhi government has decided to administer the vaccine free of cost to all 18-plus residents of Delhi,” he announced. The Delhi government aims to administer vaccine swiftly to all residents. The chief minister along with his parents has taken the vaccine and vouched for its safety on several occasions. “Vaccine is emerging as a solution to this pandemic. Those who have been administered the vaccine are either not contracting the virus or contracting only mild forms of it. They can recover at home and do not have to be admitted to the hospital. Even when they require hospitalisation, their recovery is easy and swift,” added Kejriwal. The chief minister appealed to vaccine manufacturers to be humane when it comes to pricing and demanded that the Centre put a cap on prices. Delhi has been since the beginning of the vaccination process demanding that it should be opened for all. The Centre did it last week. Different vaccine manufacturers have priced the vaccine at `400 and `600 for state governments and at `150 for the Central government. Kejriwal said prices should be the same. “It is my appeal to the manufacturers that they, on their own, bring the price to `150 for everyone. There is a lifetime to make a profit, this is the time to aid people. This is also my appeal to the central government.” ‘ECI responsible for 2nd wave’; HC threatens to stop vote-count H A R I S H M U R A L I @ Chennai People gather in large numbers for vaccination in Nadia district of West Bengal on Monday | PTI Bengal tops concern table amid poll rush State records highest Covid-19 case growth, test positivity rate in Kolkata touches staggering 50% E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi WEST Bengal, where Assembly elections are on in full swing, has the highest Covid-19 case growth of 9.5% in a country ravaged by a severe second wave, data shared by the Union health ministry shows. Bengal is followed by Karnataka, which has a growth rate of 9%. Delhi has the second lowest growth rate of 1.5% after Maharashtra (0.5%), among the surge states. The figures showing a grim scenario in Bengal have been released at a time when the Centre and BJP have come under criticism for holding huge rallies in the state whose capital, Kolkata, at about 50%, is now reporting the highest test positivity rate. India is the worst-hit country in the pandemic globally It has been re. porting 1,500 or more daily deaths since April 20. On top of these alarming figures, there are concerns that the fatalities are majorly undercounted in most cities and towns. OUR IPL SPACE INVISIBLE HELPING HANDS Several people across India have used Twitter as a platform to launch one of the biggest SOS campaigns to help people to survive Covid crisis A NOVEL INITIATIVE Fr John Puthuva, the vicar of a church in Kalady near Kochi, has been visiting patients to offer them comfort. He also launched #VaccineChallenge drive | P11 The country now has 28,13,656 active cases of which 3,52,991 were registered in the last 24 hours but the Centre has not disclosed the number of people hospitalised, on oxygen support, ICU or on ventilators. In the press briefing on Monday by the health ministry, several government authorities including V K Paul, member, Niti Aayog and Randeep Guleria, director, AIIMS Delhi, stressed that no healthcare infrastructure in the world can manage such huge numbers. Both Paul and Guleria, senior members of the national Covid-19 task force, urged patients to manage under home isolation unless hospitalization is absolutely necessary . As per the details shared by the ministry, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan report 74.5% of the new cases. Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 66,191. CENSURING the Election Commission of India (ECI) for not stopping political parties that were deliberately abusing the Covid-19 protocol during pre-election rallies, the Madras High Court on Monday said the commission was “singularly responsible” for the second wave of the pandemic in the country The court . also warned that it would stop the counting of votes on May 2 if the poll panel didn’t put in place a strict Covid-19 protocol. When the ECI contended that it had earlier put safety measures in place, the bench orally observed, “Were you on another planet when political rallies were being held?” It further stated, “Election Commission Officers should probably be booked o n m u rd e r charges.” The first bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, made these observations on a plea moved by Transport Minister MR Vijayabhaskar, who sought a direction to the ECI to ensure strict adherence to safety measures to ensure fairness in the counting the votes. The petitioner said 77 candidates had contested in his constituency and , due to the lockdown on Sundays, the ECI should display the votes received by each candidate, announce the tally clearly in every round, and move to the next round only with the consent of all agents. He also sought the installation of more CCTV cameras in the counting centre and provision of the best-possible surveillance. LOCKDOWN IN KARNATAKA, NIGHT CURFEW IN PUNJAB EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Bengaluru/Chandigarh THE Karnataka government on Monday announced more restrictions in what it termed a “close down” across the state for 14 days from Tuesday night. The Punjab government ordered a weekend lockdown and extended the night curfew by two hours. “Strict measures to control Covid will be taken. From tomorrow night till the next 14 days, there will be a close down for the whole state,” Karnataka CM B S Yediyurappa said. He added shops selling essential commodities will be allowed to remain open only from 6 am to 10 am. In Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also ordered the closure of shops by 5 pm. “Due to continuous & rapid rise of #Covid19 cases in Punjab, Cabinet today has decided to impose daily lockdown from 6 PM to 5 AM and weekend lockdown from Friday 6 PM to Monday 5 AM,” he tweeted. WARNING NOTE Resurgence could derail economy: RBI EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE THE resurgence in Covid-19, if not contained in time, risks protracted restrictions and disruptions in supply chains with consequent inflationary pressures, according to the RBI. Pandemic protocols, speedier vaccination, ramping up hospitals and ancillary capacity, and remaining resolutely focused on a post-pandemic future of sustainable growth of macroeconomic and financial stabil- ity is the way forward, it noted in its monthly bulletin on Monday . Stating that India’s economic activity was holding up against the ferocious second wave, with activity indicators (other than contact-intensive sectors) largely remaining resilient in March and growing beyond prepandemic levels, it said growth outlook was ‘bright by any projection.’ “If the relatively conservative growth forecast of the RBI holds, India’s GDP in 2021-22 will exceed its level in the pre-pandemic year of 2019-2020,” it said, adding that there will be scars, some taking longer to heal. With economic activity still reeling from the magnitude of the Covid-19 shock, rising borrowing costs will pivot the narrative of the speed of a post-pandemic recovery . Meanwhile, retail inflation in March edged up to 5.5% but still was within the tolerance band. This has an important bearing on formulation of monetary policies. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy CM Manish Sisodia visit the Radha Saomi facility in New Delhi on Monday | PTI TAKE YOUR SHOT APRIL 25 25,36,612 doses APRIL 26 31,74,688 doses TOTAL 14,50,85,911 doses NATIONWIDE APRIL 25 APRIL 26 Fresh cases 3,49,691 Recoveries 2,17,113 Deaths 2,767 DELHI COVID WATCH 3,52,991 2,19,272 2,812 APRIL 25 APRIL 26 Positive cases Recovery Active cases Deaths Containment zones Tests Positivity rate 22,933 21,071 94,592 350 27,366 75,912 30.21% 20,201 22,055 92,358 380 29,104 57,690 35.02% ARMY RECALLS RETIRED MEDICS Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said all medical personnel from armed forces who retired in the last two years are being recalled to work in Covid-19 facilities near their residence MASK MUST EVEN AT HOME, SAYS NEW MINISTRY ADVISORY E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ New Delhi THE government on Monday advised people to wear masks even at home, conceding that the new strain of Covid-19 virus that has led to a massive explosion of cases across India, is much more transmissible. The Centre’s note of caution comes amid concerns that the virus remains suspended in the air in the form of aerosol. At a press briefing by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the situation in the country V K Paul, member, health, Niti Aayog said that this is the time to be at home, not invite anyone over and avoid stepping out unnecessarily . “If there is Covid-19 positive case in the family it is very important that the person , wears a mask even indoors because the virus can spread to others in the home. I would rather go on to say that the time has come that we start wearing masks at home even otherwise,” Paul, who also heads the national Covid-19 task force, said. Authorities also stressed on immediate isolation of anyone with symptoms, in order to break the chain of transmission. “Do not wait for the reports to come. Isolate. There is a chance that RT-PCR tests can be negative, as it is not 100% sensitive,” said Randeep Guleria, director, AIIMS, Delhi , who is also a member of the task force. Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry, highlighted the risks of not wearing masks. Referring to studies, he said there is a 90% risk of infection associated with two individuals not wearing a mask and not maintaining adequate social distancing. It becomes 30% if the unaffected person is wearing a mask, he said. 328 oxygen concentrators from US Air India on Monday brought 328 oxygen concentrators to India on its New York-Delhi flight, said civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri. Earlier, SpiceXpress, the air cargo arm of SpiceJet, airlifted 800 concentrators from Hong Kong for emergency use and distribution across the country. Distribution remains the challenge The Centre on Monday said there is no shortage of oxygen, but conceded that distribution and transportation is a challenge. This comes a day after Home Minister Amit Shah said all liquid oxygen manufactured in India will be used for medical purposes. Biden promises help in call with Modi E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi US President Joe Biden on Monday expressed his commitment to support India’s fight against Covid by quickly deploying resources like therapeutics and ventilators and exporting vaccine raw materials, in a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The two leaders discussed the pandemic situation in their countries, including India’s ongoing efforts to contain a second wave. This was the first call between the two leaders after the outbreak of the deadly COVID19 wave in India. Modi thanked Biden for his assistance. “Had a fruitful conversation with @ POTUS @JoeBiden today. We discussed the evolving COVID situation in both countries in detail. I thanked President Biden for the support,” Modi tweeted. “My discussion with @POTUS @JoeBiden also underscored the importance of smooth and efficient supply chains of vaccine raw materials and medicines,” another tweet read. A White House readout of the conversation said Biden pledged support to India. “The United States is providing a range of emergency assistance, including oxygen-related supplies, vaccine materials, and therapeutics. The President pledged America’s steadfast support for the people of India who have been impacted by the recent surge in Covid-19 cases... Prime Minister Modi expressed appreciation for the strong cooperation between both countries,” it read.
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