Vaccination of people between the ages of 18 and 45 is slated to begin in the National Capital tomorrow. Meanwhile, Goa extended its curbs, and Haryana and Odisha announced their own lockdowns to stop spread of COVID-19
The Supreme Court in a late night order directed the Centre to create a national buffer stock of oxygen and to formulate a uniform national policy on hospital admission in two weeks, according to several media reports.
“The Central Government shall,within two weeks, formulate a national policy on admissions to hospitals which shall be followed by all state governments. Till the formulation of such a policy by the Central Government, no patient shall be denied hospitalisation or essential drugs in any state/UT for lack of local residential proof of that State/UT oreven in the absence of identity proof,” the court ordered as per Live Law.
Meanwhile, Delhi hospitals on Sunday continued to raise the alarm to authorities over a shortage of oxygen with one healthcare facility even “crying out” to the government to shift out its patients.
Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital in Malviya Nagar around noon, said 50 peopld including four newborns, were “at risk”. An official of the hospital said in the afternoon there are around 80 patients, including those suffering from COVID-19 , at the hospital. It also has 15 newborns, he said.
There are 50 people, including four newborns, on oxygen support. They are at risk,” the official said. The hospital does not have a liquid oxygen storage tank and depends on oxygen cylinders from a private vendor. “It has become a daily fire-fight in the absence of a continuous supply. We require around 125 oxygen cylinders a day,” the official said.
The hospital said it received 20 oxygen cylinders around 1:30 pm with the help of government authorities.
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court on Sunday directed the government to file a reply to a Centre’s plea seeking recall of a court order to supply the entire oxygen allocated to the National Capital by “whatever means” to treat COVID-19 patients or face contempt.
A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, which held a special hearing on a holiday, issued a notice to the Delhi government and asked it to file its response by Wednesday.
Delhi High Court is holding a Sunday sitting to hear the application filed by Centre seeking to recall the order passed by the Court yesterday directing Centre to supply the allocated 490 MT of Oxygen to Delhi.#DelhiHighCourt #Oxygen pic.twitter.com/Io1IJDkSx3
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) May 2, 2021
The court said it will hear this particular application of the Centre on Thursday, while other issues will be heard on Monday.
The bench was hearing an application by the Central Government seeking recall of its 1 May order directing supply of the entire 490 metric tonnes (MT) of oxygen allocated to Delhi and warning of contempt action for failure to do so.
The Central Government said its officials are working hard and such orders would have a demoralising effect on them. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that the Delhi government has been found “completely wanting in making any efforts whatsoever to arrange for the transport of the quantity allocated to it except for a few tankers”.
Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government, opposed the contentions in the application, saying the allocated amount of oxygen was never made available to the National Capital. The hearing started at 3 pm and went on for over two and a half hours.
This, a day after the court, anguished by the deaths of eight COVID-19 patients including a doctor, at the Batra Hospital due to a shortage of oxygen directed the Centre to ensure that the National Capital receives its allocated share of 490 MT of the life-saving gas during the day and said “enough is enough”, “much water has gone above the head”.
The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Sunday told the Central Government to increase the supply of Remdesivir injections to Maharashtra observing the current reduction in the allocation of the crucial drug is not consistent with the number of active COVID-19 cases as of 1 May.
In a special hearing, the bench of justices SB Shukre and Avinash Gharote heard a bunch of petitions on the shortage of medical oxygen and Remdesivir, which is in high demand for treating COVID-19 patients.
The bench said the high court came to know about the reduction in the allocation of Remdesivir to Maharashtra from 1 to May 9. “For the earlier period of ten days, the allocation was 4,30,000 vials, and the same for the next 10 days is 3,74,500. This means a reduction of 60,500 vials of Remdesivir for Maharashtra,” the judges said. The bench observed that such a reduction in the allocation of Remdesivir vials to Maharashtra is not consistent with the number of active cases in the state.
“On April 30, the number of active cases in Maharashtra was 6,72,000 while the same is 6,64,000 as of May 1, which means active cases reduced hardly by about 1.2 per cent, whereas the reduction in the allocation of vials to Maharashtra for the aforesaid period is by 14.5 per cent. “This mismatch needs to be reconsidered and removed by the Central Government,”the bench said.
COVID-19 vaccinations for 18-45 begin tomorrow in Delhi
The third and the largest phase of vaccination, under which beneficiaries in the 18-45 age group will be given jabs against coronavirus , will begin in the National Capital on Monday. Around 90 lakh people in this category will be eligible for the jabs. Five vaccination booths each have been set up at 77 schools for the inoculation exercise, an official said on Sunday. The government set up vaccination centres at schools to accommodate a high number of beneficiaries, he said.
At present, jabs are being given to those aged above 45 at around 500 centres in the National Capital. Pre-registration will be mandatory for beneficiaries in the 18-45 age group and there will be no walk-ins for this category for now, the official said. Three big private hospital chains – Apollo, Fortis and Max – have already started vaccinating people in the 18-45 age group at limited centres from Saturday.
The Delhi government has placed orders for 1.34 crore vaccine doses with manufactures which will be delivered over the next three months. Of these, 67 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine are being procured from Pune-based Serum Institute of India.
Curbs extended in Goa
COVID-19-induced restrictions will remain in force in Goa till 10 May during which various commercial establishments will remain closed while political and social gatherings will be banned, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Sunday. Goa, a popular tourist hotspot, had reported an extremely high test positivity rate of over 50 per cent on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, he said the lockdown imposed in Goa on April 29 will be lifted at 6 am on 3 May as announced earlier. “The lockdown in the state will be lifted tomorrow 6 am onwards but the COVID-19 related restrictions will continue to be in force for a week to ensure that the spread of the virus is controlled,” Sawant said.
The Goa chief minister said various establishments including casinos, bars, sports complexes, auditoriums, community halls etc will remain closed along with river cruises, water parks, entertainment parks, gyms, spas, massage parlours, saloons etc. Schools, colleges, and educational institutes will also remain closed except for the examination purpose, Sawant said. He said religious places will be closed for the public but regular activities may continue in these places.
“Social, political, sports, entertainment, academic and cultural functions will be banned except for the events which are held with the permission of the government with 50 or fewer people,” the chief minister said.
Odisha declares 14-day lockdown
The Odisha government declared a 14-day lockdown from 5 May to contain the rapidspread of COVID-19 in the state, an official order said. In a video message, Chief Secretary SC Mahapatra said thelockdown will be imposed in the entire state from 5 am on 5 May to 19 May. Along with the lockdown, the weekend shutdown in urban areas will also be in force, he said. Under weekened shutdown, except for medical outlets andhospitals everything else are completely prohibited.
“Even though nobody wanted this strict enforcement, thegovernment has imposed lockdown to protect people and theirlives from the pandemic,” Mahapatra said. Like other parts of the country, Odisha is also witnessinga sharp spike in COVID cases during the second wave.
According to the order, during lockdown period, movement ofbuses for public transport will be banned. All educational, training, coaching institutions, etc will remain closed. However, physical conduct of examinations bystate/national/international bodies shall be allowed on a caseto case basis by the respective departments with dueintimation to all concerned authorities, Mahapatra said. All kind of exhibitions, trade fairs, melas and physicalbusiness to business meetings have been prohibited. However,such activities may be taken up in virtual mode.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik declared working journalists of the state as frontline Covid warriors. While approving a proposal to this effect, the chief minister said journalists are doing a great service to thestate by providing seamless news feed and making people awareof coronavirus -related issues.
“They are a great support for our war against COVID-19 ,” a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Office said. The decision would benefit over 6,500 journalists.
“As many as 6,944 working journalists of the state have been covered under the Gopabandhu Sambadika Swasthya BimaYojana. They are getting health insurance cover of Rs 2 lakh each,” the statement said. Odisha has also announced an ex gratia of Rs 15 lakh for the next of kin of journalists who die of COVID-19 while performing their duty, it said. After being declared as frontline workers by the state government, journalists will now get priority in the vaccination programme, sources said. As many as 11 newspareons have died of the infectionin Odisha since the beginning of the pandemic, sources said.
Haryana govt announces one-week lockdown
Amid a sharp surge in coronavirus cases, the Haryana government on Sunday announced imposition of a week-long lockdown in the entire state beginning May 3. Earlier, a weekend curfew was enforced in nine districts, Gurugram, Faridabad, Panchkula, Sonipat, Rohtak, Karnal, Hisar, Sirsa and Fatehabad, from 10 pm on Friday till 5 am on Monday.
Health minister Anil Vij tweeted:
3 मई दिन सोमवार से 7 दिन के लिए सारे हरियाणा में पूर्ण लॉक डाउन घोषित ।
— ANIL VIJ MINISTER HARYANA (@anilvijminister) May 2, 2021
Haryana on Saturday had registered 125 COVID fatalities, taking the death toll in the state to 4,341, while 13,588 fresh infections pushed the tally to 5,01,566.
The massive surge in COVID-19 cases in Haryana has also put pressure on the health infrastructure, even as state authorities over the past few days have been trying to meet the increased demand of medical oxygen supplies and beds. The other restrictions which were recently put in place in the state to contain the spread of infection include imposition of prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC and daily night curfew.
Opposition party leaders have also expressed concern over the prevailing COVID situation in the state. Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Thursday had asked the government to step up efforts to tackle the situation. He had said that the complete focus of the government should be on protecting the people of Haryana from the pandemic. Senior INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala had hit out at the BJP-JJP government over its COVID-19 management, saying the situation in the state was worse than that of Delhi.
“The situation in Haryana is worse than that of Delhi. There is no bed available in the hospitals, there is a shortage of oxygen. This government does not hve any right to stay in power, he had said recently..
Opposition urges free vaccination for all
Also on Sunday. leaders of 13 Opposition parties Sunday urged the Centre to launch a free mass vaccination drive across the country in view of the unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases. In a joint statement, they also called upon the Centre to ensure uninterrupted oxygen supply to all hospitals and health centres as they manage the staggering patient loads in view of the rising cases.
The signatories include Congress president Sonia Gandhi, JDS leader and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee.
“In times of the uncontrollable surge of the pandemic across our country, we call upon the Central government to focus all attention in ensuring the uninterrupted flow of Oxygen supplies to all hospitals and health centres across the country,” they said in a joint statement. “We call upon the Central Government to immediately launch a free mass vaccination programme across the country,” they added.
The Opposition leaders said the budgetary allocation of Rs 35,000 crore for the vaccination programme must be utilised for this drive. JMM leader and Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, DMK chief MK Stalin, BSP supremo Mayawati, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav have also signed the statement, besides left leaders D Raja (CPI) and Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M)
India witnesses record daily toll
A record 3,689 daily COVID-19 fatalities pushed India’s death toll to 2,15,542, while the infection count reached to 1,95,57,457 with 3,92,488 more people being confirmed positive for the disease, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday. The active cases have crossed the 33-lakh mark, the data updated at 8 am showed.
Registering a steady increase, the active cases have increased to 33,49,644, comprising 17.13 percent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has further dropped to 81.77 percent. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1, 59,92,271, while the case fatality rate has further dropped to 1.10 percent, the data stated.
India’s COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on 7 August, 30 lakh on 23 August, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on 16 September. It went past 60 lakh on 28 September, 70 lakh on 11 October, crossed 80 lakh on 29 October, 90 lakh on 20 November and surpassed the one-crore mark on 19 December.
The country crossed the grim milestone of 1.50 crore on 19 April.
With inputs from PTI
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