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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

COVID-19: Oxygen supply to industries banned to meet patients’ demand; Covaxin production to increase 10 times by Sept, says Vardhan

This is the fourth straight day when over 2 lakh cases have been recorded. Over 12 lakh cases have been added to the caseload in the last week

By: Express Web Desk | Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune |
Updated: April 18, 2021 10:42:22 pm
A worker at Pune's Kailas Crematorium near Sangamvadi segregates the Asthi (cremated remains) of the persons who died of COVID-19 (Express photo/Pavan Khengre)

The total number of Covid cases in India continued to rise on Sunday with Maharashtra and New Delhi once again reporting their highest single day spike in Covid cases at 68,631 and 25,462 infections respectively. Uttar Pradesh added 30,596 cases –– highest till date –– to its tally which has now become 8,51,620 while also registering the largest one-day toll  with 129 patients succumbing to the infection. Drawing attention to the worsening Covid-19 situation of national capital, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking for beds and oxygen cylinders for patients. Kejriwal requested Modi that 7,000 out of 10,000 beds in Delhi’s Central government hospitals be reserved for Covid patients.

In view of the shortage of oxygen oxygen across country,  the Centre banned its supply for industrial purposes except in nine specified industries. The Railways too decided to run ‘Oxygen Express’ to transport liquid medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders to different states across country, said the national transporter.

According to Health Ministry data updated on Sunday morning, India reported a record single-day rise of 2,61,500 coronavirus infections taking the country’s tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,47,88,109, while active cases surpassed the 18-lakh mark. The death toll increased to 1,77,150 with a record 1,501 new fatalities.

Govt bans supply of oxygen to industries to meet demand from COVID-19 patients

In view of shortage of oxygen in several states amid a spike in COVID-19 cases, the Centre Sunday banned its supply for industrial purposes except in nine specified industries. The decision will come into effect April 22 onwards. In a communication to all the states, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said that in view of the rapid surge in the virus cases and resultant demand for medical oxygen, particularly in severely-hit states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, the central government-constituted Empowered Group-II, after reviewing the supply of oxygen for industrial use, recommended to prohibit the oxygen supply for such purposes by manufacturers and suppliers from April 22 till further orders, with exceptions of nine specified industries. This was done so that the amount of oxygen saved this way can now be diverted to meet the rising demand for the essential public health commodity in the country and save precious lives.

Covaxin production to increase 10 times by September: Vardhan

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan Sunday said there will be a 10-times rise in the production of Covaxin by September while the manufacture of remdesivir jabs, an anti-viral drug against COVID-19, will be doubled to 74.1 lakh each month by May. Taking to Twitter, he also said all support is being extended to states to fight the virus and uninterrupted supply of oxygen and a boost in healthcare infrastructure is being ensured. “Production being doubled to 74.1L per month by May; Express permission given to 20 manufacturing plants to increase production; Exports prohibited; Prices capped; Strict monitoring to curb any malpractice, hoarding and black marketing.” In another tweet, “Projected demand of high-burden states mapped with supplies; Oxygen production being maximised and diverted from industrial use to medical use; Expediting installation of 162 PSA plants across the country; Round-the-clock coordination cell assisting the States”.

Railways to run ‘Oxygen Express’ to meet high demand amid surge in Covid cases

In order to meet the oxygen demand across the country, the Railways will run ‘Oxygen Express’ to transport liquid medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders to different places, the national transporter said Sunday. Empty tankers will start their journey from Kalamboli and Boisar railway stations in and near Mumbai on Monday to load liquid medical oxygen at Vizag, Jamshedpur, Rourkela and Bokaro, officials said.

Earlier, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra governments had approached the Railways Ministry to explore if the liquid medical oxygen tankers could be moved by the rail network, they said. Amid upward spiral of coronavirus cases in the country, the demand for medical oxygen in the country has gone through the roof.

Govt to double remdesivir production to 3 lakh vials per day in 15 days: Mandaviya

The government has planned to double the remdesivir production to around 3 lakh vials per day over the next 15 days, to make it readily available readily for COVID-19 treatment. Taking to Twitter, Minister of State of Chemicals and Fertilisers Mansukh L Mandaviya said the process has already started to ramp up the production in the country. “We are trying to increase production of remdesivir injection and also that its price comes down. Currently, we are producing 1.5 lakh vials per day. In the next fifteen days, it will be doubled to 3 lakh vials per day,” he said.

The government has also allowed 20 plants to produce the antiviral drug, he added. “In the next few days, we are trying to maximise the remdesivir production. The drug companies have also reduced retail prices of the medicine and patients will benefit from it,” he added.

Manmohan Singh writes to PM Modi, gives 5 suggestions to tackle Covid-19 crisis

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to make public the orders for doses of coronavirus vaccine placed by the government and indicate how the vaccines will be distributed across states based on a transparent formula.
He also asked the Prime Minister to give some flexibility to states to define categories of frontline workers who can be vaccinated even if they are below 45 years of age.

Pointing out that domestic supplies are limited, Singh suggested that any vaccine that has been cleared for use by credible authorities such as the European Medical Agency or the USFDA, should be allowed to be imported without insisting on domestic bridging trials.

As India reels under the second wave of coronavirus, Singh said people are now beginning to wonder when their lives will get back to normal and argued “there are many things we must do to fight the epidemic but a big part of this effort must be ramping up the vaccination programme.”

Mamata writes to PM Modi, once again seeks permission to purchase Covid vaccines directly with state funds

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again seeking the Centre’s permission to “purchase vaccination doses directly with state funds and launch a massive free vaccination campaign in the state covering the entire population”.
“You may recall that I had written to you on February 24, 2021 to allow the state to purchase vaccination doses directly with state funds and launch a massive free vaccination campaign in the state covering the entire population,” she wrote.

Urging the Centre to increase the supply of Remedesvir and Tocilizumab, she added, “The supply of Remedesvir and Tocilizumab is extremely scarce and uncertain today, which has been a matter of grave concern for doctors here. We need around Rs 6,000 vials of Remdesvir and 1,000 vials of Tocilizumab daily. However, at present only 1000 vials of Remdesvir is available daily and no fresh supply of Tocilizumab is coming. It may kindly be seen that the relevant authorities step up their efforts to ensure steady supply of these most essential medicines as soon as possible.”

Over 12 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in 92 days in India

India took only 92 days to reach the mark of 12-crore vaccinations, the fastest country to do so, the Union Health Ministry said on Sunday. It is followed by the US which took 97 days and China which took 108 days. Cumulatively, 12,26,22,590 vaccine doses have been administered through 18,15,325 sessions, as per the provisional report till 7 am.

People stand in a queue to receive second dose of Covid-19 vaccine at Raiganj Government Medical College & Hospital in Bengal (Express photo by Partha Paul)

Delhi’s Covid positivity rate touches 30%, Kejriwal dials Amit Shah for more beds and oxygen

Delhi’s positivity rate continued its upward climb with 30 per cent of those tested over the past 24 hours testing positive for Covid-19, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said. On Saturday, this figure was around 24 per cent.

Delhi saw close to 25,500 cases on Sunday, according to the CM, and the health infrastructure is under immense pressure as ICU beds and oxygen supply were running out. “We are running out of ICU beds and all included we have less than 100 left at present. Oxygen is running out too. A private hospital told us yesterday that they had almost run out but tragedy was averted. We are asking Centre for help and getting it. We thank them for it,” Kejriwal said.

Health workers in PPE suits treat Covid-19 patients at an Isolation center in New Delhi on Saturday.

Six Covid patients die in Shahdol; oxygen shortage alleged

Six deaths of critically ill Covid positive patients undergoing treatment at the ICU ward of Shahdol medical collage were reported early on Sunday allegedly due to shortage of oxygen supply. In the last 25 hours, Shahdol medical college has reported 12 deaths of Covid patients.

MP has witnessed a steep rise in its oxygen consumption with 64 metric tons consumed on March 22 which increased to 179 metric ton on April 7 and further increased to 234 metric ton, the next day on April 8. With 63,889 active cases, MP’s demand stood at 330 metric tons on Saturday and is expected to rise to 440 metric tons by April 20.

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