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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Coronavirus India, April 23 Highlights: Kejriwal urges his counterparts to provide oxygen to Delhi amid acute shortage

India reported over 3.46 lakh Covid-19 cases in 24 hours ending 9 am Saturday, making it the highest single-day spike in the country so far. This is also the most number of Covid cases reported in a day in any country in the world.

By: Express Web Desk | Bengaluru, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi |
Updated: April 24, 2021 10:49:04 pm
Covid-19A man being tested for Covid-19 in Ludhiana (Express Photo: Gurmeet Singh)

As the national capital continues to reel under a severe oxygen crisis, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday urged his counterparts in other states to provide oxygen to Delhi, saying all available resources are proving to be inadequate owing to the severity of Covid-19. Kejriwal’s request for supply of oxygen came following the death of 20 patients in Jaipur Golden Hospital here as Delhi’s desperate hunt for the life-saving gas continued amid rising COVID-19 cases.

India reported over 3.46 lakh Covid-19 cases in 24 hours ending 9 am Saturday, making it the highest single-day spike in the country so far. This is also the most number of Covid cases reported in a day in any country in the world. The country also reported 2,624 deaths over the same duration.

Over 25.52 lakh cases are currently active in the country while over 1.38 crore people have recovered after testing positive. The total death toll is now over 1.89 lakh.

Here are all the important Covid-related updates from the day:

Covaxin to cost Rs 600/dose in state hospitals, Rs 1200/dose in pvt hospitals

Days after the Serum Institute of India came up with the new prices of Covishield, Bharat Biotech on Saturday announced the prices of Covaxin which is pegged at Rs 600 per dose for state government and Rs 1,200 for private hospitals.

Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine-maker, on Wednesday announced that it will charge state governments Rs 400 per dose and private hospitals Rs 600 per dose for the vaccine.

Fresh Covid curbs in Tamil Nadu: Malls, theatres, places of worship closed, lockdown on Sunday

With a huge surge in coronavirus infections and deaths, the Tamil Nadu government Saturday announced stringent curbs, including closure of cinema theatres and shopping malls. The government has also declared a complete lockdown on Sunday.

According to the latest guidelines, recreation clubs, bars, auditoriums and meeting halls will not be allowed to function from Monday in the state. Shopping complexes, malls, beauty parlours, spas, saloons, barber shops will also be shut. The guidelines also order closure of all worship centres and denial of public entry to attend temple consecrations,

Restaurants and other eateries will operate only for takeaway services. The government has ordered a limited number of 50 people at weddings and 25 for funerals were among the other guidelines issued. It has also directed IT and related companies to work with just 50% of staff strength by allowing others to work from home.

People who travel to Tamil Nadu from other states and countries, except Puducherry, should be registered with the state portal to avail e-passes for entry.

Gurgaon looks to hotels, guesthouses, private firms to add more beds

Even as Gurgaon sees a surge in cases and a massive shortage of beds, officials Saturday said medical infrastructure is being ramped up with around 200 beds for Covid patients expected to be added in the “next three days”.

As of 6.30 pm on Saturday, Gurgaon was down to only one vacant ICU bed and one vacant ICU ventilator bed. Vacant oxygen beds were also down to only 12.

At a meeting to discuss the Covid situation in the district on Saturday, officials said following Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrate Yash Garg’s directions that 60 per cent beds in the general category and 75 per cent beds in the ICU and ventilator categories at all hospitals be reserved for Covid patients, 1,000 beds will be added. Prior to the order, hospitals were reserving 40 per cent general beds and 70 per cent ICU and ventilator beds for Covid patients.

Only limited Covishield stocks being sold at Rs 600, don’t compare with global prices: SII

Serum Institute of India (SII) said Saturday that “only a limited” portion of doses of Covishield vaccine would be sold to private hospitals at Rs 600 per dose for use in vaccinations of those aged 18 years and above. “The price of the vaccine is still lower than a lot of other medical treatment and essentials required to treat Covid-19 and other life-threatening diseases,” said the Pune vaccine maker in a statement.

SII CEO Adar Poonawalla had earlier said that the firm would like to sell Covishield to private hospitals, and that buying more doses than provided by the Centre was an “option” for States.

“We want to sell to the private hospitals, which will take care of all of these states and corporates. I don’t know why there is such a hullabaloo about every state complaining about this price because, look–it’s their option, it’s not their compulsion,” Poonawalla told CNBC TV-18 on April 21.

In its statement on Saturday, the company said: “Furthermore, there was an inaccurate comparison done between the global prices of the vaccine with India”.

Set up more private centres before vaccination for 18+ begins: Centre to states

Ahead of the roll-out of vaccination of people aged between 18 and 45 from May 1, the Centre on Saturday asked states to register additional private vaccination centres and ensure effective crowd management at sites and stressed on inoculation through “only online registration” for beneficiaries in the age bracket.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan and Empowered Group on Technology and Data Management to Combat COVID-19 chairman R S Sharma held a high-level meeting on Saturday to guide states and union territories on effective implementation of the new vaccination strategy (Phase-3) and to review their augmentation plans so as to strengthen the existing hospital and clinical treatment infrastructure for COVID-19 patients.

With regards to the Phase-3 vaccination strategy from May 1, the states were advised to register additional private COVID-19 Vaccination Centres (CVCs) on mission mode by engaging with private hospitals, hospitals of industrial establishments, industry associations, etc., the health ministry said in a statement.

Govt waives basic customs duty, health cess on import of oxygen, related equipment

The Central government on Saturday decided to waive basic customs duty and health cess on the import of oxygen and connected equipment for a period of three months with immediate effect. At a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it was also decided to exempt basic customs duty on the import of Covid vaccines with immediate effect for a period of three months, a government statement said.

The move is expected to boost availability of these items as well as make them cheaper, it said, adding that Modi also directed the revenue department to ensure seamless and quick custom clearance of such equipment.

The items to benefit from the decision include medical grade oxygen, oxygen concentrator along with flow meter, regulator, connectors and tubing vacuum pressure swing Alabsorption (VPSA) and pressure swing absorption (PSA) oxygen plants, cryogenic oxygen air separation units (ASUs) producing liquid/ gaseous oxygen.

Oxygen cannister, oxygen filling systems, oxygen storage tanks, oxygen cylinders, including cryogenic cylinders and tanks besides any other device from which oxygen can be generated are among several other items under this category.

Oxygen pressure low, 20 Covid patients die at Delhi’s Jaipur Golden Hospital

At least 20 Covid patients admitted in the critical care unit of Jaipur Golden hospital died late Friday night as the oxygen pressure was low.

Jaipur Golden is among several hospitals in Delhi that have been complaining about shortage of oxygen supply this week.

Dr D K Baluja, the hospital’s medical superintendent, told The Indian Express: “These patients were critically ill and it all happened in the critical care area. Yes, the oxygen pressure was down for some time. They didn’t die during that period exactly, it takes 10 minutes here and there, but the pressure was definitely low. They are generally on a very high load of oxygen so that is the reason.”

On Friday, Delhi had reported a staggering 348 deaths due to Covid-19 as hospitals in the national capital continued to grapple with a severe shortage of medical oxygen.

Delhi govt has not made sufficient arrangements to transport oxygen from Orissa, Bengal: Delhi HC

On the hearing of oxygen shortage in the national capital, the Delhi state government on Saturday told the Delhi High Court that it cannot be oblivious to the fact that the state is not getting what it was promised. “We cannot be oblivious to the fact that what has been promised is not coming, and then expect hospitals to not cry or the Delhi government not to micromanage,” it said.  The government also added that an incident is “bound to happen anytime” if the state does not get oxygen.

As the Delhi government said oxygen supply is the problem, the Centre said, “The problem right now is not of supply. There is a lot of it in eastern states. The issue is of transportation and tankers.”

Oxygen Healthcare workers carry the oxygen cylinder for a patient in front of the LNJP Hospital in New Delhi (Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

The high court told the Delhi government to work towards creating “your own oxygen generation plants”. The court also said that the Delhi government has not made sufficient arrangements for tankers to bring oxygen from the states of Orissa and West Bengal. The HC said that other states have made these transportation arrangements already and the Delhi government should not leave the matter entirely to the Centre.

“We have been informed empty tankers have been airlifted to Durgapur and Railways is ready to transport them as soon as they are filed. We are informed Delhi has not made arrangements for tankers for other two plants. Delhi government has stated since it’s industrial state, it does not have tankers. However, Centre has informed that other states have made arrangements. Let Delhi government also take steps in this regard along with the Ministry of Road Transport Highways,” the court observed.

Six patients die of oxygen shortage at a private hospital in Amritsar

Six patients died due to shortage of oxygen at a private hospital in Amritsar on Saturday. Five of these patients were Covid-19 positive.

The managing director of Neelkanth Hospital, Sunil Devgan, blamed the district administration for the deaths. “We repeatedly asked the district administration to provide us oxygen but we got no response,” said Devgan.

He alleged that the district administration has captured oxygen plants in Amritsar to supply oxygen to Government Medical College.

Battle against Covid the positive trend on social media

With hospitals across the country stretched to their limits, thousands have turned to social media to seek help. In response, an overwhelming number of social media users and organisations have risen to the occasion — connecting Covid patients with scarce resources like oxygen cylinders and hospital beds, and compiling crowdsourced lists of eligible plasma donors and other vital information.

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