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Friday, May 07, 2021

Daily Briefing: 551 oxygen plants to be set up using PM CARES funds; US, UK, EU pledge help

On a day the country reported nearly 3,50,000 fresh Covid infections and 2,767 deaths over the preceding 24 hours, the Home Ministry issued an order directing states to use all available liquid oxygen for medical purposes only.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
April 26, 2021 8:29:06 am
A look at the top news today, May 5, 2021.

Good morning, 

The Second Wave 

On a day the country reported nearly 3,50,000 fresh Covid infections and 2,767 deaths over the preceding 24 hours, the Home Ministry issued an order directing states to use all available liquid oxygen for medical purposes only. And the Centre announced in-principle approval for 551 oxygen plants to be set up using  PM-CARES funds.

Ten days ago, a panel under Niti Aayog Member Dr V K Paul, had told authorities to take urgent measures for oxygen provision to meet a surge of 3 lakh new cases a day by April 20, and a surge of 5 lakh new cases a day by end of April. It had also recommended “extraordinary measures to ramp up oxygen provision” under a ‘Plan B’ to meet a surge of 6 lakh new cases a day.

Meanwhile, help is coming from abroad as the Covid-19 surge continues to cripple the country’s healthcare system. From vaccines to its ingredients, oxygen tankers to oxygen concentrators — US, UK and EU pledged help to India

Days before vaccinations are scheduled to be opened up to everyone of age 18 and older, four Opposition ruled states said they would not be able to begin the drive on May 1 because they did not have enough vaccines.

Only in the Express 

In states across the country, special Covid centres and health infrastructure started during the first wave of the pandemic was dismantled earlier this year, amid the mistaken belief that the worst was over. Now, India’s already-feeble healthcare system is bursting at the seams as states were ill-prepared for the sheer ferocity of  the second wave, the Indian Express’ ‘Storm after the calm’ series has found. 

Remdesivir, as per rules, can only be distributed by the manufacturer to licensed distributors, stockists, or Covid hospitals. But in Maharashtra, politicians from several parties, including those in the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), sold or distributed the drug directly to people after procuring it from the manufacturer, or by dipping into district stocks, The Indian Express found.

In this edition of Idea Exchange, Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien talks about the high-stakes Assembly election in West Bengal and where his party stands. “All parties make mistakes, even bigger mistakes. But trust Didi, she is the captain of the ship. That is why we are quietly confident,” he said. 

A long queue of 108 ambulances with Covid patients wait for admission at Dhanvantari Covid hospital in Ahmedabad. (Express Photo by Nirmal Harindran)

Must Read 

His mother’s Covid-positive report in one hand and his own plasma donation certificates in the other, over two days, Syed Yusuf walked in and out of at least six hospitals and healthcare centres, pleading with them for a bed for his mother, but to no avail. On Sunday morning, his mother passed away at their home in East Delhi, leaving him exhausted, broken and bitter. 

The residents of the mining villages of Ranjiganj appear to have lost consonance with the electoral process. “Look at the rest of Bengal or the country. Roads are being built, there is development. That development comes on the back of our villages, and we get nothing,” Saikat Bose, a resident of Bazaari village said. Their demands are simple — clean water, better roads, jobs for all, and a strong front against the powerful local coal “mafia”. 

ICYMI

Citing the stubbornly high positivity rate in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday extended the lockdown in the capital for another week – until 5 am on May 3.

Former JNU student Umar Khalid, arrested last year in connection with a Delhi riots case, has tested positive for Covid-19 in Tihar Jail.

The CEO and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of Vijay Vallabh Hospital in Virar, where a major fire killed 15 Covid patients in the ICU on Friday, were arrested for mismanagement. 

In a letter to PM Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K Palaniswami urged him to immediately cancel the diversion of 80 MTs of oxygen to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as the state faces an acute shortage of the life saving gas. 

And Finally

Abhinav Bindra on holding the IPL amid the aggressive coronavirus second wave: “The players should realise just how privileged they are to be able to play the IPL in these times. So I just hope everybody involved in the IPL play their part in one way or the other, either through right messaging – like the importance of masking up, the importance of social distancing – or even finding creative ways to amplify the health requirements of people.”

Delhi Confidential: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday virtually inaugurated a Covid Care Centre in Gwalior. The Centre is a dedicated facility for lawyers and will be available to them free of cost. 

In today’s episode of ‘3 Things’, we look at the tussle between the Delhi government and the Centre over oxygen, the SC’s suo motu cognizance in pandemic-related matters, and the latest Covid updates. 

Until tomorrow, 
Rahel Philipose and Leela Prasad G

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