MonDAY B.1.617 variant: Experts urge govt to rethink vax policy 24 The two major vaccines available in India may have less efficacy against the B.1.617 strain, say experts citing a recent UK study may, 2021 ‘Pfizer JAB OFFERS BETTER PROTECTION’ epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard According to a recent study by Public Health England, the two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine offer just 60% efficacy, while the protection after a single dose is much lower. The jab, however, has 66% efficacy after two doses against the B.1.1.7 strain, first detected in the UK. The study showed the Pfizer vaccine was 88% effective against B1617 and 93% against B.1.1.7 twitter.com/TheMornStandard Oppn backs stir Extends support to farmers On May 26, Samyukta Kisan Morcha will mark six months of protest by farmers A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS Page 8 l New Delhi l J8.00 l PAGES 12 ‘Need fresh modelling, serosurveys’ According to virologist Gagandeep Kang, fresh modelling and serosurveys are urgently needed to optimise strategy for India. It is better to reduce infection risk in a large number of people by offering one dose, rather than protecting a smaller group with the two-dose regimen, said virologist Sudhanshu Vrati | P7 India on Sunday evening became the third nation after US & Brazil to cross 3 lakh cumulative fatalities Vaccine a distant reality in rural India, shows app Lockdown extended in Delhi but Kejriwal hints lifting curbs from June 1 E x p r e ss N e ws Se r v i c e @ New Delhi THE Delhi government on Sunday extended the ongoing lockdown in the national capital for another week, till 5 am on May 31, even as the number of fresh Covid cases continued to drop rapidly . In the wake of the surging second wave, lockdown was imposed in Delhi on April 19. With the fifth extension, the city will complete nearly one-and-a-half month under restrictions to break the chain of infection. Announcing the decision, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said if the case tally keeps falling in the coming days, thegovernment would start the unlock process in a phased manner from June 1. “I will not say that we have won the battle. There is still a lot left to be won over but now it seems that we are gaining control over the situation. So, I appeal to all to follow the lockdown like earlier,” he said. The positivity rate in the city had touched 36 per cent in April. This has fallen below 2.5 per cent by Sunday, said the Delhi Covid watch MAY 22 MAY 23 Positive cases 2,260 1,649 Recovery 6,453 5,158 Active cases 31,308 27,610 Deaths 182 189 Containment zones 48,429 46,570 Tests 63,155 68,043 Positivity rate 3.58% 2.42% chief minister. “In the last 24 hours, the infection rate has fallen below 2.5 per cent i.e, if we are testing 100 people only 2.5 out of them are testing positive. This means the infectionrate has reduced rapidly. In April, there were days when we saw 28,000 cases in a single day . In the past 24 hours, only 1,600 cases have been recorded inDelhi. So the speed of infection has declined rapidly in Delhi.” Kejriwal said the city faced a lot of problems in the last one month but the residents fought together like a family. There was an acute shortage of oxygen but the central govern- Abysmally low rates of vaccination in rural districts across India P r ana b M o nda l , H a r p r ee t Ba j w a , S u dh i r S u r ya w an s h i & Ra j e s h A s nan i @ Kolkata/Chandigarh/Mumbai/Jaipur A store at Khan Market is open for necessary work on Sunday | pArveen negi ment, Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court came together and resolved the issues. “Now, there is an acute shortage of vaccines and I hope we will also solve it together.” Stating that the top priority of his government now is to figure out how to vaccinate the 2.5 crore population of the city Ke, jriwal claimed the AAP government had made all arrangements to vaccinate the entire p o p u l at i o n w i t h i n t h re e months. “But there is a shortage of vaccines across the country. If all are vaccinated then probably, we can be protected from the third wave. I am There is still a lot left to be won over but now it seems that we are gaining control over the situation. So, I appeal to all to follow the lockdown like earlier —Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi Chief Minister personally talking to the Centre, the manufacturing companies and foreign fir ms for vaccines.” It is being said that a third wave of COVID-19 will arrive. If everyone get vaccine, perhaps the third wave may not arrive, he said in his address to the people. Kejriwal further said his government is willing to spend funds from its budget to gets vaccines. “It does not matter at what cost they are giving it to us. We are willing to spend from the budg et of the Delhi government.” Meanwhile, the government is making other vital arrangements like beds, ICU beds and oxygen needed to fight the third wave, he added. Ad for hiring hospital personnel kicks up domicile row in J&K F aya z Wan i @Srinagar The Union Territory government’s region-specific recruitment of domiciles for Covid care hospitals coming up temporarily in Jammu and Srinagar has drawn resentment from the general public. The two 500-bed hospitals are being built in collaboration with the DRDO. Both the hospitals are likely to be made operational next month. “In the Advertisement 06/AHJ dated 20-5-2021 and 07/AHJ dated 205-2021 issued bythis issue please read, ‘The candidate should be Permanent Resident/Domicile of Jammu division’ instead of ‘The candidate should be Per- manent Resident/Domicile of J&K’ in the terms and conditions of the advertisement,” read the corrigendum issued by Government Medical Colle g e, Jammu for staf f recruitment. Similarly the GMC Sri, nagar has also invited applications from eligible candidates belonging to Kashmir division only for the post of staff nurses, lab technicians, pharmacists and anaesthesia technician. But the move has drawn criticism from all sections of the society including journalists. “Is there a separate ‘Jammu domicile’ certificate?” tweeted CHhATrasal murder Sushil lands in police net, cops get six-day custody E x p r e ss N e ws Se r v i c e @ New Delhi After a cat and mouse game of nearly three weeks, Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar was arrested from Outer Delhi’s Mundka area on Sunday in connection with the murder of a junior fellow wrestler. Sushil and co-accused Ajay Kumar, a physical education teacher and son of a Congress leader from Vikaspuri, was produced before a local court which sent them to six days of police custody . “An Olympian and a National wrestler, running wanted for a crime of murder, arrested on World Wrestling Day (May 23). Accused Sushil Kumar and Ajay arrested after a fortnight’s chase across 6 states/UTs. Shall now face the law of the land,” the DCP Special Cell tweeted. Sushil was on the run since May 5, after an FIR was registered against him under various charges of the IPC including murder, abduction, culpable homicide, criminal intimidation at the Model Town Police station. The wrestler also faces charges under the Arms Act. Last Monday, the police had Sushil Kumar in police custody after his arrest in Mundka | Parveen negi announced `1 lakh and ` 50,000 reward for providing information leading to the arrest of Sushil and Ajay. On May 18, a court rejected an anticipatory bail petition filed by the wrestler. Later, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him. Police also issued Look Out Circular against the duo. According to the police, Sushil criss-crossed six states including Uttarakhand, Haryana, UP and Punjab to evade arrest. , The murder took place on the intervening night of May 4- 5 at Chhatrasal Stadium following a brawl between two groups. Jammu-based journalist Anuradha Bhasin. Srinagar-based journalist and Kashmir Images editor Bashir Manzar also was critical of this recruitment decision. “ This ugliness is sickening. Need some cor rective measures,” he tweeted. An official spokesperson tried to sidestep queries. “The gazetted posts are UT level and the non-gazetted are divisional-level posts. Now let us put this controversy to rest.” However, a legal expert said categorization of posts as divisional or district cadre does not mean that recruitment is restricted to one place only . RUE More Trinamool TURNCoATS want to quit BJP If party sources are to be believed, at least 10 former Trinamool leaders are now reaching out to party supremo Mamata Banerjee and other colleagues to do a ghar wapsi Page 8 Abusive Chhattisgarh collector shunted out E JA Z K A IS E R @ Raipur following widespread outrage on social media over Surajpur collector Ranbir Sharma slapping a youth and smashing his mobile phone for allegedly flouting lockdown norms, the Chhattisgarh governemnt on Sunday Video grab of Ranbir transferred the IAS officer to the state Sharma slapping a youth secretariat. “I am upset with this incident. I apologise to the young man and his family said Chief ,” Minister Bhupesh Baghel, who also issued directions to compensate the youth with a new mobile handset. Sharma, too, apologised for slapping the youth, identified as Aman Mittal. “I am satisfied with the government action. Today I received a new mobile phone from the collector,” said Mittal. “Vaccine suna hai magar hum logo ko na mila. Kaise milega na jante hain (I have heard about the vaccine but not got it. I don’t know how to get it either),” said Raghunandan Paswan, 50, a daily wage labourer in Vaishali district of Bihar. Paswan’s lament sums up the progress of the vaccination in the rural areas. An analysis of data available on the CoWin app shows that vaccination in the rural belts of most states is lagging behind urban centres. Given that the Covid-19 pandemic is now raging in the villages, it has set off alarm bells in health circles. It’s a major concern, considering that medical facilities and awareness levels are below urban standards. Take the case of West Bengal, where Covid cases are out control following the recent elections. Till May 20, 30% of Kolkata and the adjoining urban pockets spread over four districts had been vaccinated. This is in sharp contrast to the 14 rural districts in the state, where seven districts have a vaccination percentage of less than 10. In north Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district, only 5.8% of the population had been vaccinated. This is followed by Birbhum with only 8.74%. Among the better performing rural districts is South Dinajpur, with 15.3%. No other rural district crosses 12%. Even in these places, the gap is big between municipal centres and gram panchayats. Around 15,488 doses were administered in the Jhargram municipality area. In the rural Gopiballavpur block in the same district, with a population three times that of the pocket in Jhargram, the figure is 8,250 only . The rural-urban divide is stark in Continued on P8 Punjab also. Worrying trend Bihar About 60% of urban Bihar vaccinated. Just 5% of rural population has got the shots. 76% of new cases and deaths reported from villages madhya pradesh Vax in urban districts like Indore (27%), Bhopal (24%), Gwalior (24%). Rural districts like Agar Malwa (11%), Umaria (10%), Harda (11%), Alirajpur (8%) Maharashtra Mumbai (43.11%), Pune (47.31%), Nagpur (48.55%) as against rural districts Gadchiroli (18.65%), Palghar (18.1%), Hingoli (17.17%) Punjab Bathinda (9.79%), Ferozpur (4.51%), Fatehgarh Sahib (9.63%), Muktsar Sahib (9.62%), Mansa (7.9%), Moga (9.56%), Sangrur (7.9%) Bengal 30% of all doses administered in Kolkata and adjoining districts. In 14 rural districts, max vaccination in South Dinajpur (15.35%) Rajasthan Sawai Madhopur (19.9%), Dausa (16.36%), Pratapgarh (17.21%), Jalore (17.25%), Tonk (17.6%), Dungarpur (18%) Lockdown extended in Haryana, Rajasthan Lockdown was extended on Sunday in Haryana, Rajasthan and Puducherry till May-end or beyond. Rajasthan extended the lockdown till June 8, while Haryana's lockdown will stay till May 31. Puducherry announced the extension of the ongoing lockdown till May 31 Moderna shoos off Punjab, sets trend for others S u m i S u k an ya D u t ta @ New Delhi Refusal by Moderna, a US based Covid-19 vaccine maker, on Sunday to directly supply doses to the Punjab government came as a reminder that global bids by individual states to procure vaccines from the international market may not yield favorable results. Experts said the international tenders floated by several state governments like UP Ma, harashtra, Rajasthan and Kerala, apart from Punjab, pit them against one another, besides sending a wrong message that the Covid response in the country is uncoordinated. In a country already reeling under an acute shortage of vaccines, this development adds to the worries of the authorities as only around 14.4 crore people have received their first dose, while a meagre 4.14 crore have got the second one. The daily vaccination number, too, has come down to just 1-2 million a day after peaking to over , four million per day in early April. The Punjab gover nment, which had approached top vaccine makers, including Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, J&J and Sputnik V for direct supply, said Moderna got back claiming it would “only deal with Government of India”. CONTINUED ON P8 NATIONWIDE MAY 22 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths MAY 23 2,57,299 2,40,842 3,57,630 3,55,102 4,194 3,741 (Morn) Most states favour conducting Class 12 board exams, final decision on June 1 E x p r e ss N e ws Se r v i c e @ New Delhi A high-level meeting on Sunday discussed whether to conduct Class 12 board exams at designated centres for 19 major subjects or hold shorter exams at schools but no decision was t a ke n d u e t o a l a ck o f consensus. The meeting was chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and attended by Union ministers Ramesh Pokhriyal, Prakash Javadekar, Smriti Irani and Sanjay Dhotre, besides education ministers and secretaries of several states. According to sources, the CBSE has proposed that exams be held between July 15 and August 26 and the result declared in September. Most states left it for the Centre to take the call, but Maharashtra said the examinations should be cancelled altogether, while Delhi and Kerala suggested that all students must be vaccinated before the tests. “Following detailed discussion with states, it was decided that more deliberation will be carried out,” said an official. The states were asked to send their suggestions by Tuesday . Meanwhile, sources said neither the CBSE nor the government is in favour of cancelling the examinations. “The option of holding CBSE board exams in 19 major subjects found support from many states. For other subjects, a different way such as internal assessments could be chalked out,” an official said. A decision is likely by the government on June 1. Healing hand Bureaucrats, police officers who double up as doctors Ra j e s h A s nan i , Ra j e s h K u m a r Tha k u r & A n u r aa g S i n g h @ Jaipur/Patna/Bhopal They are qualified doctors by training, but bureaucrats or police officers by profession. They had donned the white coat of medical practitioners before clearing the civil service examinations and becoming IAS or IPS officers. Now in this hour of crisis caused by the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, besides doing their jobs as a chief executive or a district magistrate, they take out time to visit hospitals and double up as doctors to treat Covid patients. Meet Manju Sheoran Jakhar, S M Thiyagrajan and Anil Kumar among others, the first two being IAS officers of the Rajasthan and Bihar cadre respectively, and the third an IPS officer in UP. All three had studied MBBS. They are now putting their medical training to good use, playing a Manju Sheoran Jakhar S M Thiyagrajan double role with ease. Jakhar, a 2016 batch IAS officer, is the chief executive officer of the Udaipur District Council and oversees rural development work under the MN- REGA. She studied MBBS at the Lady Hardinge Medical College in New Delhi and also completed her MS in gynaecology before cracking the civil services exam. Given her medical background, she was assigned the work of ensuring oxygen supply to patients and to fill the gap in Covid testing facilities. During her almost daily rounds of hospitals to ensure this, she takes out time to see patients in the wards of the RNT Medical College Hospital in Udaipur, among others. Jakhar also gives phone consultation to patients. “A lot of treatment is done on the phone itself as every family has someone or other suffering from Covid. I check their reports, symptoms and track their treatment. This will continue as I am doctor,” she said. To manage medical oxygen, her team collected data from hospitals requiring oxygen and then raContinued on P7 tioned it.
Express Network Private Limited publishes thirty three E-paper editions of The New Indian Express newspaper , thirty two E-paper editions of Dinamani, one E-paper edition of The Morning Standard, one E-paper edition of Malayalam Vaarika magazine and one E-paper edition of the Indulge - The Morning Standard, Kolkatta.