THURSDAY INDIAN COVID VARIANT FOUND IN AT LEAST 17 COUNTRIES: WHO 29 Ireland Netherlands Germany APRIL, 2021 South Korea Italy epaper.morningstandard.in Greece U.K. Belgium facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard Cambodia U.S. Singapore SHAKE SCARE India Guadeloupe Portugal EARTHQUAKE ROCKS ASSAM Switzerland Australia Bahrain New Zealand STRAIN DETECTED IN UK, US AND SINGAPORE After quake of 6.4, ten aftershocks of lesser intensity, no major damage A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS PAGE 8 NEW DELHI J8.00 World Health Organization said the B.1.617 variant, first found in India, had as of Tuesday been detected in over 1,200 sequences uploaded to the GISAID open-access database “from at least 17 countries”. “Most were uploaded from India, UK, US and Singapore,” the WHO said. PAGES 12 Mass registrations crash CoWIN Many complained they did not get OTPs to complete the process on national portal; Centre describes it as a minor glitch, claims 80 lakh people enrolled themselves within three hours EXPRESS READ Opp fumes at essential status to Vista project New Delhi: Opposition leaders on Wednesday slammed the government for bringing construction work of its Central Vista redevelopment project under the ambit of “essential services” to ensure smooth movement of labourers during the lockdown. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “Central Vista not essential. Central Govt with a vision- essential.” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury too hit out at the government accusing it of “circumventing” the lockdown, when millions are struggling. 3,60,960 3,52,991 3,23,144 3,49,691 3,46,786 3,32,730 3,14,835 2,95,041 2,73,810 2,59,170 2,61,500 2,34,692 1,619 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 2,812 2,767 22 2,624 2,104 21 2,263 2,023 1,761 20 Deaths 23 24 25 26 3,293 1,501 2 Cases 2,771 1,341 2,17,353 1,185 0 2,00,739 1,038 50000 1,84,372 1,027 100000 DEADLY SPIRAL IN APRIL 1 200000 150000 1,61,736 250000 1,68,912 Covid cases in April: 58,47,932 Total cases so far: 1,79,97,267 300000 879 Kanjikuzhi panchayat (Kerala) is undertaking a novel initiative to protect pets and livestock of Covid-infected families — a day care centre for cows, goats, dogs and other animals | P11 350000 1,52,879 OUR IPL SPACE Covid deaths in April: 38,719 Total deaths so far: 2,01,187 400000 CONTINUED ON: P7 904 FAUCI ON COVAXIN Covaxin has been found to neutralise the B.1.617 variant, which is the Indian double mutant strain, White House Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday 1,45,384 @narendramodi 839 1 lakh portable oxygen concentrators will be procured, 500 more PSA oxygen plants sanctioned from PM-CARES. This will improve access to oxygen, specially in district HQs and Tier-2 cities. 1,31,968 with the city government, which will now require the approval of the L-G before taking action regarding subjects that were under its domain. “In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act 2021 (15 of 2021), the Central Government hereby appoints the 27th April 2021 as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force,” stated the notification signed by additional secretary in the MHA, Govind Mohan. The Aam Aadmi Party questioned the timing of the notification. “The Central government should have waited at least till the end of the second wave. Delhi is amidst a crisis and notifying this right in the middle of it can lead to chaos,” said a statement.” CLOSE to 20% of all official deaths reported in India due to Covid-19, occurred over the last four weeks. Within the same time span, fresh Covid cases shot up a gargantuan 58,47,932. It works out to over 32% of the 1.80 crore reported in the country thus far. The official tally of 38,719 Covid deaths in April so far — out of 2,01,187 total fatalities due to the contagious disease in the country — may, however, be because of gross undercounting as is evident from the civic death records and grisly visuals from overwh e l m e d c re m at o r i u m s across cities and towns. Experts concur. They point firewood and so on? I think that is hardly likely .” Public health researcher Oommen John, too, said that the number of reported deaths does not reflect the actual number of people who are in prolonged hypoxia (acute breathlessness), which is incompatible to survival. “This is a mystery and would warrant close attention.” What is alarming is the rapid increase in cases despite local restrictions. India, for instance, was reporting less than 75,000 daily cases in the beginning of the month but reached the 1 lakh mark, higher than the peak in September last within a week, which rose to over 2 lakh cases within another week. 794 SECOND DOSE GAP The gap between the first and the second doses of Covaxin has just been officially increased from four weeks, perhaps due to the shortage. It can now be taken between four and six weeks @ New Delhi 1,26,789 The Delhi High Court on Wednesday objected to a change by the Centre in the Covid treatment protocol related to Remdesivir use amid a shortage of the drug, saying “it appears you want people to die”. out that while an average of 28,000 deaths are reported in India every day, crematoriums in cities would not be overflowing if the Covid fatality is just 2,000-3,000 a day , as is being counted officially as of now. Epidemiologist Jammi N Rao pointed out that the official toll on April 25 was about 2,850. “So assuming all other deaths were constant, the net addition due to Covid amounted to an extra 10% of the baseline,” he said. “Would that excess have resulted in the scale and magnitude of the chaotic scenes we witnessed with cremation grounds working round the clock, queues of bodies waiting for hours and hours to be cremated, the shortage of S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA 780 TOTAL DOSES: 14,98,77,121 DELHI HC FAULTS ADVISORY ON REMDESIVIR 1,15,736 20,49,754 doses 20% OF INDIA’S COVID-19 DEATHS IN APRIL ALONE 685 THE third phase of the Covid-19 vaccination drive for persons in the age group of 18-44 age group is likely to begin at “moderate” pace in the national capital and people with comorbidities will be given preference, of ficials said on Wednesday . The Delhi government has placed an order for over 1.3 crore doses. These will be delivered in phases. Private hospitals will have to procure vaccines from manufacturers. Although details are still to be announced, it is learnt that persons with serious comorbidities will be catered to on a priority basis. As and when the supply of vaccines increases, everybody else will be brought under the drive. At the moment, officials are looking at a “moderate” start. The drive will gradually pick up pace, provided the supply of vaccines remains stable. At present, jabs are being given at around 500 centres in the capital. It’s not clear at the moment whether this number will remain the same in future. April 28 630 @ New Delhii THE Union Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a notification, bringing into force the Government of National Capi t a l Te r r i t o r y o f D e l h i (Amendment) Act, 2021, which places the Delhi Lieutenant Governor (L-G) over the elected government, making L-G the effective in-charge of the national capital. The notification, issued late on Tuesday night, makes it clear that the city’s elected government has to seek the opinion of the L-G, a nominee of the Central government, before any executive decision. The act has been notified at a time the Centre and the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government are facing criticism over the handling of the pandemic and the scarcity of oxygen, hospital beds and essential medicines. Three key subjects in Delhi — public order, police and land — are already in the hands of the Central government, while sectors such as health, education, agriculture, forest and transport are 24,55,869 doses 96,982 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi TAKE YOUR SHOT April 27 istration and online appointment is mandatory for this age group as walk-in shots are restricted to those above 45. Meanwhile, Serum Institute’s entire 6-7 crore/month Covishield production could be available in India as there is no clarity on export. But it is not clear how many jabs will go to the Centre how many to states. 446 in 3rd phase JAB-O-METER Meanwhile, the govt announced ‘Y’ category security cover to him across the country citing potential threats to him 1,03,558 Act giving L-G power Priority for persons with to rule Delhi in force, comorbidity AAP questions timing DELHI VAX DRIVE CEO Adar Poonawalla called it a philanthropic gesture 93,249 “It is a matter of common knowledge, most of the patients who do not require oxygen are isolating at home unless they suffer from comorbidities. It will be useful, if against the name of each hospital, it can be indicated whether the beds being provided are capable of providing oxygen facilities or not. For this purpose, the portal would have to be amended to Amid outrage on price gouging, Serum Institute of India trimmed the cost of Covishield for state govts from `400 to `300 per dose 478 DHARAMSHALA: Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on Tuesday announced to make a contribution to the PM-CARES Fund to fight against the Covid-19 surge this extent,” the judge said. The court raised concerns over mismanagement in the distribution of Remdesivir. “This is resulting in the black marketing of the drug. Because you are not distributing. You are not acting in a proper, systemic manner. There are only complaints, not the drug. This is complete mismanagement, I am sorry .” Dr Vinod Kotwal, Member Secretary of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, submitted that over 50,000 vials of Remsidivir was sent. The court pointed out that this contradicts the stance of the Delhi gover nment. “That is not true. Government is saying 2,500. Where did the remaining 50,000 go?” 89,129 THE Delhi High Court on Wednesday told the Delhi government to ensure equal distribution of oxygen to all hospitals and see to it that there is no black-marketing or hoarding of the life-saving gas. A bench headed by Justice Pratibha Singh issued a set of directions on the processing of insurance claims, supply of Remdesivir and publication of information regarding oxygen-aided hospital beds. The court directed IRDAI to issue an instruction to insurance companies, saying that the maximum time in which claims of patients are to be approved is 30 to 60 minutes. Dalai Lama contributes to PM-CARES Fund 513 @ New Delhi COVISHIELD COST FOR STATES CUT TO `300 81,466 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE THE first batch of Covid vaccine from Russia, Sputnik V is set to , arrive in India on May 1. “According to Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the first batch of Sputnik V will be delivered to India on May 1, 2021,” said the Russian embassy in response to a query by this newspaper. It, however, did not specify how many doses will be sent to India. There are only three vaccines with over 90% efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 infection and Sputnik V is one of them. The other two are vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna. Sputnik was developed by the Gamaleya National Research In- NATIONWIDE APRIL 27 APRIL 28 stitute of Epidemiology and 3,23,144 3,60,960 Microbiology with funding from Fresh cases RDIF. The two-dose vaccine has Recoveries 2,51,827 2,61,162 to be administered 21 days apart Deaths 2,771 3,293 and costs around $10 (`750) per dose in the international market. Sources said RDIF is in talks with India authorities on the pricing in the country . The Centre has hinted that all foreign vaccines, including Sputnik, will be available only in private hospitals. Though no official response could be elicited from Dr Reddy’s on the development, its management has earlier said that the initial quantity of Sputnik V that will be supplied in India is set to be limited as they will be imported from Russia. RDIF’s manufacturing partners in India – at least four other companies apart from Dr Reddy’s – will start producing the vaccines locally by July this year, after which the supplies are likely to be scaled up. The news on Sputnik V comes amid concerns that vaccination has not picked up the required pace to arrest the spread of the infectious disease. 714 Settle insurance claims quickly: HC S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi 72,330 An ambulance outside Arun Jaitley Stadium, while another is stationed inside, during this season’s first IPL match in Delhi on Wednesday. Should healthcare resources be spared on a day when over 24K cases were reported in the city? | PARVEEN NEGI THE CoWIN portal, which facilitates registration and scheduling for Covid vaccine, crashed on Wednesday soon after it opened for those in the 18-44 age group at 4 pm. Complaints of non-receipt of one-time password (OTP) to proceed with the process poured in. Many irate users took to social media to flag the technical problems they faced while trying to register for the third phase of the inoculation drive kicking off from Saturday . They also complained they could not schedule their vaccination as no slots were available for the next few weeks in their area. To this, the Centre responded saying appointments can be booked only after states and private hospitals fix their vaccination schedule. The health ministry rejected reports of the portal crashing as baseless. and claimed that 80 lakh registrations were done within three hours of opening up. “We close the day with 1.33 crore registrations on Co-Win and delivered 2.78 crore SMSes,” tweeted R S Sharma, CEO, National Health Authority . “CoWIN Portal is working. There was a minor glitch at 4 pm that was fixed. 18 plus can 1st batch of Sputnik V will reach India on Saturday register,” read a tweet from Aarogya Setu, the Union government’s app for Covid contact tracing. The app also has a link to the CoWIN portal through which one can register and schedule vaccination. While all adults will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccine from May 1, people in the 18-44 age group can take the shot only at centres run by state governments or private hospitals. Reg- 469 @ New Delhi 459 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE 27 28 A P R I L NOBLE CAUSE Coimbatore couple pledges jewellery, donates 100 fans to Covid ward EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Coimbatore HUMANITY is all that counts in these times of darkness and uncertainty While most people . are actively arranging oxygen cylinders and Remdesivir drug for needy patients through various social media, one couple from Coimbatore is providing relief to infected perons at the ESI hospital here. It was a sultry Tuesday afternoon when Radha* and Chandran* visited the hospital and offered to donate 100 pedestal fans to the Covid ward. The Though the couple requested to avoid publicity, Express decided to carry the photograph released by the dean as they were anyway wearing masks | EXPRESS hospital administration was elated at not just their generosity, but their way of offering, for the couple had pledged their ornaments to make this donation possible. M Raveendran, the dean of the hospital, told Express, “We were initially reluctant to accept the offer. But they just wouldn’t leave the premises without making the donation.” The couple had in fact, pledged gold ornaments worth `2.20 lakh to buy the fans. Since Radha and Chandran were so certain about their decision, Raveendran soon con- tacted District Collector S Nagarajan, and got a go-ahead to accept the offer. “The good samaritans also requested us to avoid publicising their contribution as they called it a favour they did for Covid patients of the country ,” said the dean. The fans donated by the couple are used on the third floor where Covid patients are being treated. Raveendran said they had recently purchased about 300 fans to be equipped in Covid wards as they are not supposed to turn on the air-conditioning during this hour of crisis. “We have also requested willing and like-minded philanthropists to come forward and donate fans,” he added. When Express contacted the couple, they said the contribution was made for patients’ welfare and refused to comment further. However, the ESI hospital on Tuesday night, came out with a letter stating that a citybased couple had sponsored 100 pedestal fans by pledging jewellery. The couple did not have cash in hand and that is why they pledged the ornaments, the statement said. (*Names changed)
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