The third phase of the COVID-19 vaccination saw a rocky start in several states like Delhi, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, and Assam as they faced a paucity of vaccine doses
India continued to reel under the twin burdens of an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases and a severe shortage of medical oxygen in Delhi on Saturday. With 4,01,993 new cases in the last 24 hours, the country’s total tally of cases rose to 1,91,64,969 on a day that 12 COVID-19 patients lost their lives in Delhi’s Batra Hospital allegedly due to a shortage in oxygen supply.
A resident doctor at another Delhi healthcare establishment, Max Hospital, died by suicide on Saturday. While the police didn’t specify a reason for the death of the doctor Vivek Rai, members of the medical fraternity including former Indian Medical Association chief Dr Ravi Wankhedkar claimed Rai had taken the step after witnessing the deaths of COVID-19 patients over the last month.
Under fire from the Delhi High Court over the oxygen crisis in the city, the Centre on Saturday raised Delhi’s daily quota of oxygen to 590 metric tonne from 490 MT. The Delhi HC has been conducting regular hearings of pleas from hospitals to urgently boost their oxygen supply.
With the grim situation of India’s battle against the second wave of the pandemic in the backdrop, the Election Commission will undertake the counting of votes in four states and one Union Territory — West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Assam, and Kerala — on Sunday.
The EC, which has come under criticism from the Madras High Court for “failing to check violations of COVID-19 protocol at election rallies”, moved the Supreme Court against the high court’s “uncalled for, blatantly disparaging and derogatory remarks”.
The Madras High Court had stated that the poll panel “should be put on murder charges probably” because political parties had flouted COVID-19 protocol in rallies in the five states.
The third phase of the COVID-19 vaccination for people between the ages of 18 and 45 saw a rocky start on Saturday with Delhi, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, and Assam giving it a miss due to a paucity of vaccine doses. In other states, the vaccination drive was undertaken in only some select districts.
A consignment of the SputnikV COVID-19 vaccine was delivered to India from Russia on Saturday.
Doctor among 12 dead after Delhi’s Batra hospital runs out of oxygen
Twelve COVID-19 patients, including a senior doctor, died at south Delhi’s Batra Hospital after the facility ran out of medical oxygen for around 80 minutes on Saturday afternoon, while several other hospitals sounded the alarm about their dwindling stocks of the life-saving gas.
The tragic incident occurred in less than two weeks of 20 coronavirus patients dying at Jaipur Golden Hospital and 25 at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital amid oxygen crises in the city.
RK Himthani, head of the gastroenterology department of Batra Hospital, was among those who died due to lack of oxygen, SCL Gupta, medical director of the hospital said, adding that Himthani was admitted to the facility for the last 15-20 days.
Gupta said they had informed the authorities about the lack of oxygen on Saturday morning when they had 2,500 litres of the gas left.
Around 12.30 pm, hospital authorities claimed they ran out of oxygen. The oxygen tanker arrived at 1.35 pm, officials said, adding that they were without oxygen for 80 minutes.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose government has been demanding 976 metric tonnes of oxygen from the Centre against the existing allotted 490 MT quota, said that the lives of COVID-19 patients could have been saved by giving them oxygen on time.
“This news is very painful. Their lives could have been saved — by giving them oxygen on time. Delhi should get its quota of oxygen. Can’t see our people dying like this. Delhi needs 976 tonnes of oxygen, but it received only 312 tonnes yesterday. How will Delhi breathe in such a less amount of oxygen?” he said on Twitter in Hindi.
Sudhanshu Bankata, executive director of the Batra Hospital, said that once a patient is pushed to the edge without the support of oxygen, it is very difficult to revive him. “Unfortunately, we are expecting more fatalities,” added Bankata.
To combat the rising cases, the Delhi government announced an extension of the ongoing lockdown by another week.
Delhi hospitals send SOS messages about dwindling oxygen supply
Meanwhile, SOS messages from several hospitals, including Delhi government-run GTB Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital, about their dwindling oxygen supply continued on Saturday.
The National Capital has been facing an acute shortage of oxygen due to spiralling cases of coronavirus cases.
Earlier in the day, Kejriwal said that the AAP government’s demand is 976 metric tonnes of oxygen per day, but the Centre has allotted just 490 MT, adding that on Friday, the city administration received just 312 MT.
According to the official record, Delhi had got 305 metric tonnes of oxygen on 25 April, followed by 408 MT on 26 April, 398 MT on 27 April, 431 MT on 28 April and 409 MT on 29 April.
The chief minister said that as opposed to the demand of 976 MT, only 490 MT oxygen has been allocated to Delhi and is getting only 312 MT. He said that if given what is required, then his government can increase 9,000 beds in the next 24 hours.
“We are facing a lot of trouble regarding oxygen. Even today, we received SOS calls from hospitals all across Delhi — with only one hour of oxygen left or only half an hour of oxygen left. A lot of difficult situations are emerging. We have conveyed it to the courts as well as written to the Central Government that Delhi has a requirement of 976 metric tonnes per day. Against the 976 metric tonnes, we have been allotted 490 metric tonnes oxygen, but we are not even getting the 490 metric tonnes,” Kejriwal said.
Talking about why patients are asked to wait outside hospitals, he said, “It is only because of oxygen. In Radha Soami Satsang Beas, we have prepared 5,000 beds but only 150 beds are functional because there is no oxygen. In the Commonwealth Games and Yamuna Sports Complex, we have prepared for 1,300 beds, but there is no oxygen,” he said.
In Burari, the AAP government has arranged for 2,500 beds, he said, adding that if we get oxygen today the 9,000 oxygenated beds will be ready in Delhi within 24 hours.
“There is no oxygen. Delhi does not produce its own oxygen, to whom do we go, from whom should we borrow oxygen,” Kejriwal added.
However, the Centre alleged that the Delhi government has failed to arranged tankers for transportation of oxygen for the city’s hospitals.
Crucial Assembly election results on Sunday in the shadow of COVID-19
Counting of votes will be held on Sunday in the high-stakes Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Assembly elections, overshadowed by the raging COVID pandemic, as the BJP seeks to consolidate its hold over more states and the Congress along with its allies attempts to regain turf.
There will be 2,364 counting halls as compared to 1,002 halls in 2016 in 822 Assembly constituencies in view of the coronavirus guidelines, according to the Election Commission which had drawn flak from the courts over the conduct of polls during the pandemic.
At least 15 rounds of sanitisation will be carried out at each centre, besides social distancing and other precautions, including a ban on gatherings, will be strictly followed during the counting by 95,000 officials, officials said.
They said counting of votes will begin at 8 am and continue late into the night. As many as 1,100 counting observers will watch the process and candidates and agents will have to produce a negative COVID test report or double dose of vaccination certificate to get an entry.
Exit polls have forecast a tight contest between the incumbent Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and the BJP in the crucial West Bengal Assembly polls and put the ruling saffron combine ahead in Assam while projecting that the Left alliance will retain Kerala, a feat unseen in four decades.
For the Congress, the exit polls predicted that it may fall short in Assam and Kerala and lose in Puducherry to the opposition alliance of AINRC-BJP-AIADMK.
The only good news for the Congress was from Tamil Nadu, where the exit polls predicted that the DMK-led opposition alliance, of which it is a part, is predicted to trounce the AIADMK-BJP coalition.
The poll results in the four states and the UT are also likely to reflect how the handling of the COVID pandemic has played on the voters’ mind.
Jharkhand govt announces one month’s extra pay to COVID health workers
The Jharkhand government on Saturday announced Rs 103 crore incentive for frontline health workers engaged in COVID-related work that is equivalent to their one month salary.
Jharkhand is battling the second surge of COVID-19 pandemic with the state recording 2,670 related fatalities with over 57,000 active cases as o 1 May, 2021.
Jharkhand government has approved incentives for health department workers including doctors engaged in coronavirus related contact tracing, testing, supervision etc work in COVID hospitals and wards besides control rooms, which will be equivalent to their one month’s salary, the department of Health and Family Welfare said in a notification.
The incentive will be equivalent to a month’s basic salary of April 2020, it said.
COVID-19 caseload details
India’s daily coronavirus tally crossed the grim milestone of four lakh, while the toll rose to 2,11,853 with 3,523 fresh fatalities, according to the data updated by the Union Health Ministry on Saturday.
The infection tally rose to 1,91,64,969 with 4,01,993 new cases, while the active cases crossed the 32-lakh mark, the data updated at 8 am showed.
Registering a steady increase, the active cases stood at 32,68,710, accounting for 17.06 percent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has further dropped to 81.84 percent.
The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,56,84,406, while the case fatality rate stands 1.11 percent, the data stated.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 28,83,37,385 samples have been tested up to 30 April, of which 19,45,299 were done on Friday.
The 3,523 new fatalities include 828 from Maharashtra, 375 from Delhi, 332 from Uttar Pradesh, 269 from Chhattisgarh, 217 from Karnataka, 173 from Gujarat, 155 from Rajasthan, 122 from Uttarakhand and 120 from Jharkhand, 113 each from Punjab and Tamil Nadu.
A total of 2,11,853 deaths have been reported so far in the country, including 68,813 from Maharashtra, 16,147 from Delhi, 15,523 from Karnataka, 14,046 from Tamil Nadu, 12,570 from Uttar Pradesh, 11,344 from West Bengal, 9,022 from Punjab and 8,581 from Chhattisgarh.
With inputs from agencies
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