Updated: April 12, 2021 10:06:25 pm
With the surge in Covid-19 cases showing no signs of easing, an expert panel of India’s central drug authority on Monday recommended granting approval to Russian vaccine Sputnik V for emergency use in the country.
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) will now take a final call on the recommendation. If approved, it will be the third Covid-19 vaccine to be available in India after Serum Institute’s Covishield and indigenous Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. It will significantly ramp up India’s vaccination drive at a time when several states have complained that they are facing a vaccine shortage.
Sputnik V, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, has been tested in India through a bridging study conducted by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, as reported by the Indian Express earlier.
Among other key development, several states including Karnataka, Maharashtra and Haryana are mulling tighter restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus. While Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said that the state government could impose lockdown if the necessity arises, Haryana announced night curfew from 9 pm till 5 am, with effect from tonight. Delhi and Maharashtra have warned of a possible lockdown to curb the spread of Covid cases.
India on Monday reported 1,68,912 new Covid-19 cases and 904 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to data from the Union Health Ministry. The total number of cases stands at 1,35,27,717. There are 12,01,009 active cases in the country at present while 1,21,56,529 people have recovered from the disease. The death toll has risen to 1,70,179. As many as 10,45,28,565 people have been administered the Covid-19 vaccine.
Here are the other Covid-19 related developments
Sonia Gandhi writes to PM Modi, highlights Covid-related issues
Following an interaction with Congress-ruled states CM and states where the party is in alliance, Sonia Gandhi Monday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighting a range of issues from vaccine shortage to GST charges on equipment.
“Vaccines are our foremost hope. Sadly, most of the states, are left with a stock of just 3 to 5 days. While it will be necessary on one hand to substantially ramp up our domestic production, it will also be prudent to allow emergency use authorization of all vaccine candidates that have required clearances, without any further delay,” the Congress chief wrote in her letter.
Gandhi also said that the equipment, instruments and medical support infrastructure that is required to deal with Covid-19 should be exempted from GST. “Even ventilators, oximeters and oxygen cylinders presently attract GST as do key life-saving drugs like Remdesivir and Dexamethasone,” she wrote.
She also reiterated the demand of transferring a minimum amount of Rs 6,000 to every eligible citizen’s account to help people economically during coronavirus-induced curfews and travel restrictions.
VP, PM Modi to interact with Governors
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be interacting with Governors of various states on April 14 on the Covid-19 situation, news agency PTI reported citing sources.
It would be the first meeting of this kind during the pandemic and has been convened amid the Centre looking to push for stronger adherence to the pandemic protocols among citizens across the country.
The development comes just days after the prime minister held a virtual meeting with state chief ministers. In the meet, Modi had called for the involvement of governors in handling the pandemic and also of personalities from different fields to push compliance with Covid-appropriate behaviour and pandemic management guidelines, including for providing vaccination to eligible people.
Kerala Monday announced fresh restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the state. Similar to the national picture, there has been a surge in new infections in Kerala, with the positivity rate climbing to 12.53% on Monday.
At a high-level meeting chaired by the chief secretary, it was decided to bring in fresh measures to curb the movement of people and thereby stem the transmission of the virus.
Hence, public meetings in open spaces cannot be attended by more than 200 people while those in closed spaces shall have attendance not exceeding 100 persons. The duration of such meetings should not exceed two hours. The restrictions would apply to weddings and other functions. Instead of ‘sadyas’, Kerala’s traditional meal served on banana leaves, arrangements should be made to offer guests packed food.
Restaurants and shops across the state can operate only till 9 pm. In restaurants, only 50% of the seats can be occupied at any given point. Measures to provide packed food, instead of dine-in facilities, to guests can be encouraged. Shopping festivals and discount melas at malls are prohibited.
Karnataka CM says lockdown could be imposed if need arises
Karnataka Chief Minister on Monday said the state government could impose lockdown if the necessity arises.
“People need to respond for their own good. If they don’t heed then we may have to take stringent measures. If required and if the necessity arises, we will impose lockdown,” Yediyurappa told reporters in Bidar.
Reacting to queries on the growing coronavirus cases in the state, which saw the numbers breaching 10,000 on Sunday, he said the Prime Minister had also spoken to him about the measures taken by his government. “(I told him) we have imposed a night curfew in the districts where the coronavirus cases are rising,” Yediyurappa said.
He also insisted that people should wear face masks, use hand sanitisers and maintain social distancing.
Haryana announces night curfew
Haryana has announced a night curfew from 9 pm till 5 am, with effect from tonight. The number of active cases in Haryana has doubled in the last 11 days, from 10,300 on April 1 to over 20,000 on April 11.
State Home and Health Minister Anil Vij told PTI that the decision has been taken in the wake of an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the state recently.
Covid situation very serious, will request Centre to increase beds: Delhi CM
The Delhi government Monday decided to reach out to the Centre for assistance after the Health Department informed Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal during an emergency meeting that beds for coronavirus patients are filling up rapidly.
Kejriwal directed officials to speed up efforts to augment arrangements in hospitals to November 2020 levels, when 18,000 beds were earmarked for Covid patients across Delhi government, Centre-run and private medical facilities to meet the demand triggered by the third wave of the virus.
With Delhi battling the fourth wave of the virus, which was on Monday described by Kejriwal as “more dangerous than ever”, the government is scrambling to add more beds to address the surge in patients. The CM also expressed concern over the trend of patients with mild or no symptoms taking up beds.
Lakhs take dip in Ganga amid rising coronavirus cases
Amid rising coronavirus cases nationwide, a sea of saffron-clad seers and ash-smeared Nagas converged at Har ki Pauri in Haridwar for a holy dip in the Ganga during the second ‘shahi snan’ of the Kumbh Mela on Monday.
Led by their `mahamandaleshwaras’, the sadhus from different akhadas took out ‘shobha yatras’ through the main thoroughfare of the pilgrimage city to gather at Brahma Kund, Hari ki Pairi for the shah snan ?- or the royal bath — on Somvati Amavasya.
Marching barefoot to their destination, the seers took a dip in the river as they were showered with flower petals from helicopters arranged by the Uttarakhand government.
Masks were not worn by a large proportion and social distancing appeared impossible in an event in which, according to the mela administration, over 17 lakh people had taken a dip in the river in the first few hours up to 10 am, PTI reported. (See more photos of the Kumbh Mela here)
Meanwhile, officials also warned saying that a stampede-like situation may arise if police try to enforce social distancing at ghats during the ongoing Kumbh Mela.
“We are continuously appealing to people to follow COVID appropriate behaviour. But due to the huge crowd, it is practically not possible to issue challans today. It is very difficult to ensure social distancing at ghats,” Inspector General Sanjay Gunjyal told news agency ANI. “A stampede-like situation may arise if we would try to enforce social distancing at ghats so we are unable to enforce social distancing here,” he added.
Night curfew imposed in UP’s Shravasti district
As cases surge, a night curfew has been imposed in Shravasti district of Uttar Pradesh till April 18, news agency PTI reported citing officials on Monday. The curfew will be from 9 pm to 6 am.
Besides Shravasti, night curfew has also been imposed in Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Allahabad, Meerut, Ghaziabad, Bareilly and Muzaffarnagar districts and the Lucknow Municipal Corporation area of the state.
Supreme Court staff test positive
Supreme Court benches sat one hour late from their scheduled time in the morning as many staffers have tested positive for coronavirus, PTI reported quoting its sources. They said that as many staffers have got infected, the judges would hold courts through video conferencing from their residences. The entire court premises, including courtrooms, were sanitised, they said.
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