NEW DELHI 18 APRIL 2021 SUNDAY `12 PAGES 24 facebook/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard https://epaper.morningstandard.in PLUS: 12 PAGES MAGAZINE Turning a New Leaf EXCLUSIVE VOICES Making Waves The Ordered Chaos of Paper The Good Ol’ Days Prabhu Chawla T J S George Shankkar Aiyar Devapriya Roy Gautam Chintamani Shinie Antony Sheila Kumar Madhulika Liddle The Genius of Androgyny The Wordsmith’s Guidebook AMMA SPEAKS Archiving Aspirations Significance of Sacrifice A usually bustling Sadar Bazar area in New Delhi wears a deserted look on the first day of the weekend curfew imposed in the wake of rising Covid-19 cases; scenes in Maharashtra’s Thane (pitcure right) were similar | SHEKHAR YADAV/PTI Supply of antiviral drug and oxygen short, says Kejriwal 24,000 Estimated cases reported in Delhi on Saturday, up from 19,486 The government is trying its best to add more beds to the existing capacity. We made efforts in the last few days because of which the number of beds have increased significantly. We will ensure that there is no dearth of beds in the city. In the coming days, we will ramp up the number of beds at large scale. The objective is to add more beds with oxygen facilities so that serious patients could be treated ARVIND KEJRIWAL, Delhi Chief Minister Go & die, staff says An audio clip of an employee of UP’s Integrated Covid Command Centre, purportedly telling a patient to go and die has gone viral. The patient, Santosh Singh, said he has complained to the CM EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi AS Covid-19 cases in Delhi saw an alarming spike of 24,000 within a single-day span — a jump of 4,500 from the previous day — Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed the situation “very serious and worrisome” and said the city was facing shortage of oxygen and Remdesivir. The CM, however, added that he had spoken to Union health minister Harsh Vardhan to ensure adequate supply of oxygen and reserve more beds in central government hospitals, including in ICUs, for Covid patients. “Supplies of oxygen and Remdesivir are running short. Because cases are increasing rapidly, we are facing shortage of oxygen, Remdesivir and Tocilizumab (another drug) though a few days ago our assessment was that there is enough stock. Today, I had a meeting with senior officials and the scarcity of these three articles was noticed,” said Kejriwal. Stating that the central government has always helped Delhi in its fight against the pandemic, the CM said he is hopeful that this time too, the Centre would come to its aid. “I spoke with Harsh Vardhanji and requested for more beds in the central governmentrun hospitals and adequate supply of oxygen, Remdesivir, and Tocilizumab. The Central government has 10,000 beds and I have requested that 50% should be reserved for Covid patients. Private hospitals are facing more shortage of oxygen,” said Kerjiwal. He said the health infrastructure has its limitations and that beds, including those in ICUs, are running out fast. However, the government is making efforts to arrange more beds, particularly with oxygen facilities. He said the government is making arrangements for 1,300 beds in Yamuna Sports Complex and Commonwealth Games Village at Akshardham. At Radha Soami Satsang Beas campus, initially 2,500 beds will be available and 2,500 more will be added subsequently he added. , He said the current wave is three times deadlier than the previous one and no one knows what its peak will be. “We need to step up our efforts…and prepare for any kind of situation.” Praising people for following the weekend curfew, he indicated stricter measures would be introduced, if required. Influential akhada ends pilgrimage after PM call Remaining part of Mahakumbh to be held in symbolic manner V I N E E T U PA D H YAY @ Dehradun PM reviews plans to scale up vaccine production New Delhi: PM Narendra Modi on Saturday took stock of the Covid situation and the roadmap to scaling up the availability of the vaccines. Officials briefed him about efforts to ramp up healthcare infrastructure, including the availability of beds in additional hospitals. Modi also reviewed the vaccine rollout and the status of the ramping up of the production to expedite vaccination. Work is on to enhance makeshift hospital facilities by roping in DRDO, paramilitary forces NATIONWIDE COVID WATCH APRIL 16 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths APRIL 17 2,17,353 1,18,302 1,185 2,34,692 1,23,354 1,341 Petition seeks clearing masses from Haridwar A plea was filed in the apex court seeking directions to the Centre and others to clear the “mass gathering” from Haridwar and prescribe a safety protocol with respect to people returning from Kumbh. The plea also sought advertisements inviting people to Kumbh should be withdrawn AN influential akhada on Saturday announced that it is concluding its participation in the Mahakumbh after Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged for curtailment of the religious event in view of the surge in Covid infections. “Our people and their safety is our priority. In the wake of view of the worsening outbreak of the pandemic, we have performed ritual immersion of all the deities. This is conclusion o f t h e Ku m b h fo r Ju n a Akhada,” tweeted Swami Avdheshanand Giri, Mahamandaleshwar of Juna Akhada, the most influential akhada among the 13 akhadas. Some akhadas still plan to go ahead with a symbolic Shahi Snan on April 27. Clarifying the disputes between akhadas over the duration of the event, Swami Avdheshanand said no one announced the conclusion of Mahakumbh. “Main Shahi Snans have ended and we should keep the event symbolic.” Earlier in the morning, the PM said he spoke to Swami Avdheshanand and requested him to keep the event symbolic in view of the Covid surge. There is a growing concern as lakhs of devotees assembled in Har Ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar saw a drop in the number of pilgrims on Saturday | PTI People and their safety is our priority. In the wake of the pandemic, we have performed ritual immersion of all deities. This is conclusion of the Kumbh for Juna Akhada —Swami Avdheshanand Giri, Juna Akhada Haridwar for the event that began on April 1. As many as 172 Covid cases surfaced from February 14 to 28 while 15,333 cases surfaced from April 1 to April 14 amid the Mahakumbh in which over 50 lakh people gathered in April 12 and 14. “We support the PM’s appeal and now the Kumbh is symbolic. We appeal our devotees not to travel to Haridwar in big numbers. We can notice the numbers have already shrunk,” Swami Avdheshanand said. “We have been volunteering for tests to ensure that the infec- tion does not spread. I too have been tested 12 times.” “Faith and devotion are not trivial but life is more precious. Saving people’s life is above faith. And abiding to that spirit, we are moving to make the Kumbh symbolic.” Mahant Narayan Giri, international spokesperson of Juna Akhada, said two seers each from 13 akhadas will gather for Shahi Snan on April 27. “We have been following guidelines. Now that the PM supports our vision of symbolic Mahakumbh, we are committed to it.” Maharashtra explores 50% samples in Maharashtra showing double mutation sea route to ferry oxygen for Covid-19 hospitals S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi S U D H I R S U RYAWA N S H I @ Mumbai MAHARASHTRA is contemplating sea-route import of oxygen to keep enough supplies for Covid patients. The state’s daily production of oxygen is 1,200 metric tonne (MT). However, the demand has surged to 1,278 MT daily. “Many hospitals in the state have stopped admitting Covid patients because they do not have enough oxygen to provide to the patients. CM Uddhav Thackeray in his letter to PM Modi has said if Covid positive cases continue to increase, then by April-end, Maharashtra would need 2,000 MT of oxygen,” said a health official. Sources ruled out supplies by air of a large quantity of oxygen. “We are weighing seaway options for which we’d 1,200 MT Maharashtra’s daily oxygen production 1,278 MT Current daily need need help from the Central government. We need to act quickly before the situation gets out of hand in hospitals,” said a senior government official. State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the Centre has suggested bringing the supplies from faraway places where steel plants are located. Bringing the supplies by road will take a long time, besides the quantity of oxygen would not be up to t h e d e s i r e d l e ve l . “Therefore, we request the Centre to allow us to bring oxygen by railways. The Centre should also provide us adequate stocks of vaccines so that we can vaccinate at least eight lakh people daily. We have a good health infrastructure, but what we need is the Central support,” the health minister added. 2,000 MT Expected demand by April end 400 MT Plan to bring from adjoining states THOUGH the government is yet to make it official, nearly 50% of the Covid-19 samples undergoing whole genome sequencing are now showing double mutation, strongly pointing to its role in the current avalanche of infections, this newspaper has learnt. On February 4, the proportion of samples with double mutation B.1.617 — E484Q and L452R together — in Maharashtra stood at 3.% but had grown to over 23% on March 4 and has been rapidly growing since. The B.1.617 variant has been found in samples from eight other states but the proportion is much smaller than Maharashtra, which has been reporting over 60,000 cases daily for several days. Data from other countries suggest while E484Q can escape antibody neutralisation, L452R is known to increase infectivity and has been linked to cluster of infections in many parts of the US earlier. The Union health ministry and PRICE OF REMDESIVIR REDUCED Following an appeal by the Centre to manufacturers to not charge more than `3,500 per vial, drug makers have slashed the price of Remdesivir. Price per 100 mg vial was from `2,800 to `5,400. It will now cost `899-`3,490. the agencies under it have been maintaining that there is no epidemiological link yet established between the detection of the mutant and the ongoing second wave. “It is increasingly becoming clear that this double mutant virus may be behind the surge in cases,” said a scientist attached with the sequencing project. Another scientist said that signals of locally dominant mutations driving outbreaks — N440 in Kerala and B.1.618 in West Bengal — have also been noted. The ministry, however, has steered clear of saying so publicly. On Friday, it released a statement on the government’s genome sequencing efforts and said that of the 13,614 samples whose whole genomic sequencing have been carried out, 1,189 samples have tested positive for variants of concern. It also pulled up Maharashtra, Kerala and MP for not sharing clinical data of patients that can be used for e pidemiolo gical studies. Covid becomes focus of campaigning in Bengal P R A N A B M O N DA L @ Kolkata WHO cares more for the sufferers of Covid-19? This has become the latest bone of contention, as poll mercury continues to soar in West Bengal. On the day of the fifth phase of Assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi questioned Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s sincerity in controlling the virus situation, after being accused by her of spreading the disease in the state. Addressing a rally in the coal belt of Asansol, Modi asked why did Mamata not attend the 78.36% Polling until 5 pm in Phase 5 of Bengal elections on Saturday meeting of chief ministers on Covid control measures. “I held two meeting with the chief ministers. But she did not attend. She is not concerned about people’s health in Bengal in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic,’’ Modi said. A few days ago, Mamata had said that BJP is bringing people from Gujarat and Bihar to erect stages for election rallies and other work. Saying that they are spreading virus in the state, she had held Modi responsible for that. Modi also accused Mamata of doing politics over the per- sons killed during the fourth phase of polling. “An audio tape has come out which shows how Didi is doing politics over it. She is talking about a procession with dead bodies.” In the clip, Mamata is purportedly heard instructing a TMC candidate not to release the bodies because she would take out a rally with those. TMC has said that Mamata’s phone is being tapped and filed a complaint with the Election Commission. There are unconfirmed reports that Mamata has ordered a CID probe into the mater. YOGA HEALING FOR ALL IS THE MISSION In Ranchi, Rafia Naaz triumphed a personal battle of faith to start her mission of Yoga Beyond Religion PAGE 5
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