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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Daily Briefing: Amid Covid surge, oxygen shortage hits states; ‘no full lockdown’ says FM

From the latest on the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic to assembly elections updates and more, here are today's top stories.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: April 19, 2021 8:55:21 am
A look at the top news today, May 15, 2021.

The Second Wave

On Sunday, Delhi joined the growing list of states complaining of oxygen supply shortages for Covid patients. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged that the output of a major oxygen supplier to Delhi hospitals has been “diverted” to other states. Several states — from Maharashtra to Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh — are racing to secure oxygen supplies. And commerce Minister Piyush Goyal’s advice to state governments was to keep “demand (for medical oxygen) under control”

In Madhya Pradesh, six Covid-19 patients allegedly died due to shortage of oxygen at Shahdol Medical College. With pressure in the hospital’s oxygen tank running dangerously low, some 245-odd jumbo cylinders were pressed into use. The hospital dean said it “cannot be ascertained” whether the deaths were due to drop in oxygen supply and reasoned that the deaths would have been far higher had it been the case.   

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his predecessor Manmohan Singh offered five suggestions in the fight against Covid-19, including transparency in distribution of vaccines, flexibility for states to define frontline workers, and removing the barrier of domestic bridging trials for import of foreign vaccines. 

Only in the express

The Indian Express spoke to several officials and experts at the Centre and the states and found that in state after state, serosurveys underlined that the second Covid wave was coming and yet little was done with the data or as follow-up.

In this edition of Idea Exchange, R S Sharma, chairman of Empowered Group on Vaccine Administration, talks about using learnings from Aadhaar to ensure speed, inclusivity in vaccination, says vaccine wastage is a management issue, and explains risks in home vaccination. 

Front Page

Amid a sharply rising Covid curve, with migrant workers starting to crowd railway stations and bus terminals in scenes reminiscent of the days following last year’s nationwide lockdown, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has reached out to industry associations and leaders of India Inc to reassure them that the government has no plan to impose another such lockdown, and will instead focus on creating small containment zones.

Electoral bonds for political donations have been at the centre of debates since it was notified by the Centre in 2018, but in a first since then, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has disclosed the name of the sole donor who contributed to the party through the controversial scheme. In its contribution report for the financial year 2019-20 submitted to the Election Commission, it has revealed that it received Rs 1 crore from Hindalco Industries Limited through an electoral bond.

Must read

Before Indian troops occupied strategic heights in the Kailash range in eastern Ladakh in August last year to turn the tables on the Chinese, one of the options considered by the Army brass was a build-up, and a counter-thrust if need be, in the Eastern Sector to “relieve pressure in the area of Ladakh”. The Kailash range operation put the Chinese on a disadvantage for the first time since the start of the standoff along the Line of Actual Control in May last year.

As volunteers at crematoriums in Vadodara scramble to manage the large number of bodies coming in owing to the new Covid-19 surge, BJP leaders have expressed their disapproval to the presence of Muslim volunteers in the Khaswadi crematorium in the city.

ICYMI

The third session of the Joint Entrance Examination (Main) has been deferred in view of the Covid-19 situation in the country. 

 Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that he will be suspending his remaining election rallies in West Bengal due to the Covid-19 surge.  

An Air Force officer in Pune lost his wife and three close relatives to Covid-19 in a span of 15 days. 

Israel has lifted a public mask mandate and fully reopened its education system in the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions following its mass vaccination drive.

Charles Chuck Geschke, the co-founder of the major software company Adobe Inc. who helped develop Portable Document Format technology, or PDFs, died at age 81.

And Finally…

With the elections in Bengal almost nearing its end, the state had a difficult choice to make this time: Of going back to the Left that has a very little chance of winning the election, of sticking to the TMC that swept the city, is very much Bengali but not quite bhadralok, or the rising BJP that promises jobs and vikas but comes with its own unique trappings.

Delhi confidential: Here’s why Kerala Governor called to thank Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor

In this episode of Three Things, we discuss the new study on SARS-CoV-2 being primarily airborne. We also talk about the oxygen crisis, and how the US’ export embargo is affecting vaccine production in India.

 

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