CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI ■ ■ thiruvananthapuram l Sunday l april 18, 2021 l `12.00 l PAGES 24 l late city edition 50% of maha Covid samples showing double mutations health Ministry yet to give a clear picture Genome sequencing showed presence of variants B.1.617-E484Q and L452R in nearly half of the samples, pointing to their role in the spike Locally dominant variants found The B.1.617 variant has also been found in samples from eight states but the proportion is much smaller than Maharashtra’s. Data from other countries suggest that E484Q can escape antibody neutralisation, while L452R is known to increase infectivity. The Health ministry, however, says there is no epidemiological link yet between the mutants and the second wave ■ ■ ■ Signals of locally dominant mutations driving outbreaks — N440 in Kerala and B.1.618 in West Bengal — have also been noted Maharashtra added 63,729 cases to its tally amid a crippling shortage of oxygen and hospital beds; 398 deaths were reported Karnataka, too, reeling under plasma, bed and drug shortage 16,79, 740 Active cases in India; recovery rate has fallen to 87.23% Capital crisis on Oxygen supply Delhi and Mumbai running out of medical oxygen; situation “very serious”, says Kejriwal NATIONWIDE April 16 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths April 17 2,33,351 1,23,354 1,341 2,40,423 1,25,751 1,303 southern comfort ANDHRA PRADESH Beds: 11,194 (available) Oxygen: No shortage TELANGANA Patients with oxygen bag masks being taken to another hospital to make space for critical Covid patients, at Govt Civil Hospital, Ahmedabad on Saturday | pti Pa r v e z S u lta n @ 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 s h o r t a g e o f ox yg e n a n d 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 intensive care units (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 while addressing a digital press briefing. Stating that the central government has always helped Tied to scooter, dog dragged along road in Malappuram E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @Malappuram YET another instance of cruelty to animals surfaced in the state on Saturday after the vid, eo of a dog tied to a scooter being dragged along a road at Edakkara in Malappuram went viral. The dog was freed after a passerby, Ummer Valappan, confronted Xavier, the man riding the scooter and started to record a video. X av i e r, a n a t i v e o f Karunechi, had allegedly dragged his pet dog along the road for at least 3km to West Perumkulam before he was intercepted. The accused, who is currently absconding, reportedly committed the gruesome act because the dog had a tendency to bite his slippers among other things at home. The canine, which sustained several injuries, is being treated by a Malappuram-based NGO — Emergency Rescue ● More on P4 Force. Maharashtra mulls importing oxygen for hospitals via sea route Mumbai: Maharashtra is contemplating sea-route import of oxygen to keep enough supplies for Covid-19 patients. The state’s daily production of oxygen is 1,200 metric ton (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. Delhi in its fight against the pandemic, the Delhi 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% of them should be reserved for Covid patients. Private hospitals are facing more shortage of oxygen,” said Kerjiwal. He said the health infrastructure has its limitations. express read Bengal polls: 78% voting in 5th phase Kolkata: The fifth phase of Bengal assembly polls on Saturday witnessed sporadic incidents of violence but the voter turnout was robust at 78.36% as of 5pm. The final polling figure is likely to be declared by the Election Commission on Sunday. A TMC supporter was injured when a BJP worker allegedly opened fire in Shantipur constituency in Nadia district. Beds: 26,823 (available) ● Oxygen consumption has doubled to 2.4 MT per day ● Plan to stop industrial use of oxygen ● Hospitals told to rationalise oxygen use only for critical cases TAMIL NADU Beds: 69,000 (available) Oxygen: No shortage ● Tamil Nadu has an oxygen capacity of 1,167 kilo litres and close to 90% of it is available Kerala Beds: 7,745 (available) Oxygen: No shortage Karnataka Beds: 23,176 (available) Oxygen: No shortage Odisha Beds: 5,000 (available) Oxygen: No shortage ● Stocking up oxygen 10 times the current availability of 231 MT Amid surge, PM directs beefing up health infra E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi Hours after prevailing upon the largest seer group to conclude Kumbh gathering at Haridwar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday evening took stock of the Covid-19 situation. In a video conference, the prime minister discussed the roadmap for scaling up the availability of vaccines and ventilators with senior officials of various Union ministries, which were directed to increase the bed count through a slew of temporary hospitals and isolation centres. The meeting came on a day the country recorded its highest single-day spike so far 13,835 cases, TPR 17.04%; Shailaja says state equipped for situation E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ T’Puram STATEWIDE THE state will mount a strong defence against the spread of Covid and will ramp up testing and vaccinations on a mass scale, Health Minister K K Shailaja has said. Shailaja told reporters after attending a meeting convened by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan that the state is well equipped to deal with the situation even if a large number of cases were detected during mass screening for the virus. On Saturday the state report, ed 13,835 cases, the highest since the outbreak of the pandemic. Test positivity rate too shot up to 17.04%. Concerned by the spike, the state government extended the restrictions on public gatherings to cover weddings and housewarming ceremonies. Organisers of both ceremonies should register on the government’s Covid-19 Jagratha portal, an order said. Maximum number of participants for any kind of indoor programme is 75 and 150 for Fresh cases Active cases Deaths April 16 @ Malappuram THE controversies over recruitment at the Calicut University seems to be unending, with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) being the latest to question the varsity . The panel recently issued a notice to the university to submit the details related to the re- cruitment of assistant professors to the nanoscience and technology, and physics departments. The notice was issued based on a complaint filed by Pramod K, a post-doctoral fellow, department of electrical engineering, IIT-Madras, who attended the interviews for the posts. After the recruitment was over, Pramod wrote to the panel citing the violation of UGC Nurses at a mobile vaccination unit at Kaniyapuram in Thiruvananthapuram counting the vaccine vials on Saturday | Vincent Pulickal outdoor. Government’s Covid incident commanders will verify that the number of participants does not exceed the limit and that the Covid-19 protocol is followed at the function. Shailaja said people, who do not show Covid symptoms, will be allowed home isolation. Those who cannot arrange isolation facilities on their own will be housed in domicile care centres run by panchayats, she said. guidelines in the process. “I was one among the candidates shortlisted for the department of nanoscience and technology and the department of physics. I’m a candidate from scheduled caste and I’ve been working as post-doctoral researcher for the past three years. During the recruitment, the interview board did not follow the assessment criteria and methodology as per the UGC ● More on P2 regulations. 1961—2021 Vivekh, a socially-conscious humourist, departs S u d h i r S r i n i v a s a n @ Chennai We never worry about the mortality of seemingly omnipresent artistes like Vivekh. We don’t consider the possibility that some day, they may not be around to invoke laughter or incite thought — in Vivekh’s case, it ought to be ‘invoke laughter and incite thought’. For the last three decades or so of Tamil cinema, Vivekh has been a ubiquitous presence. He has enlivened our films with his social- ly-conscious comedy, and weaponised his humour against public issues like corruption, poor gover nance, casteism, superstition…Let’s remember that he began doing this at a time when the word ‘woke’ had not yet been ascribed with the meaning of social alertness. Vivekh has also been a charismatic presence as an actor, bringing to his serious charac- ters — like in Boys, Sivaji, Alaipayuthey — a rare vulnerability that even some top actors fail to register. Last year’s Dharala Prabhu, among Vivekh’s last films, was a fitting example of his impressive range as an actor, and his ability to play a good man so well that you would rather that the hero fall in harm’s way, not him. He was whatever cinema needed him to be: The track co- 10,031 69,868 21 April 17 13,835 80,022 27 Dispatch 50L doses of vax: State to Centre The state has urged the Centre to urgently dispatch 50 lakh doses of Covid vaccine, said Health Minister K K Shailaja Nat’l SCs panel pulls up Calicut Uty E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e (2,40,423 ). “The PM spoke about the need to utilising the full potential of India’s pharmaceutical industry to meet the rising demand of various medicines. He was briefed on the actions taken to address the shortage of Remdesivir, whose production has been increased to reach 74.10 lakh vials/month for May against the January- median who would be a necessary distraction from the serious hero, the well-meaning friend quipping witticisms, the selfless guide, or occasionally, even a protagonist. This is why as Tamil cinema evolved, and many actors and comedians got left behind, Vivekh continued to be relevant. As a new era of stars got ushered in — and then, another — who should stand along with them, taunting and supporting in equal measure, but the enduring Vivekh? P5 Of the 60.54 lakh doses of Covid vaccine that the state received, only 5.5 lakh doses are left, the minister said 11% of people in the state have contracted the virus, as per the sero surveillance survey, adds minister According to the minister, those with minor Covid symptoms will be admitted to Covid First-Line Treatment Centres (CFLTC) and those with serious symptoms to Covid SecondL i n e T re at m e n t C e n t re s (CSLTC). The meeting convened by the Union health minister observed that Covid was spreading rapidly in the country and that the number of Covid patients in the state is also ● More on P4 on the rise. February figure of 27-29 lakh vials a month,” the PMO said. Urging caution, the Prime Minister directed officials to ensure that the use of Remdesivir and other medicines was consistent with the approved guidelines. Later, the PM ordered speeding up works on plants to address the shortage of medical grade oxygen. If 1st mahout tests +ve, his elephant may miss Pooram E XPR E SS N E WS S E RVIC E @Thrissur CHANCES are that if the first mahout tests Covid positive, the elephant too might miss out on the Thrissur Pooram this year. However, if it’s the second or third mahout who is infected, the jumbo will not have to withdraw, the districtlevel elephant monitoring committee has said. In a meeting on Saturday, the committee decided to make it mandatory for mahouts to carry a Covid negative certificate received after an RT-PCR test to attend the pooram, which has been scheduled for April 23. “Mahouts cannot be exempted from Covid protocol, as even a small oversight may lead to further spread of the virus,” said Prabhu P M, assistant conservator of forests, Social Forestry. As many as 90 elephants will be taking part in the pooram, each of which will P2 have three mahouts. Fulfil vow! HC gives 9-yr-old girl nod to visit Sabarimala E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Kochi THE High Court on Saturday directed the state government to permit a nine-year-old girl to visit Sabarimala with her parents. A division bench comprising Justice P B Suresh Kumar and Justice K Babu issued the order while allowing a petition filed by Nanditha Raj of Vaikom. P G Jayasankar, counsel for the petitioner, said her parents had made a vow before her birth that they would take the child once for Sabarimala darshan. In order to fulfil it, the parents applied for darshan through the temple’s portal. Though the parents got bookings, the girl’s request was rejected. The counsel stated that she will turn 10 on June 8. Last year, on account of the spread of the pandemic and the consequent lockdown, she was not able to visit the Ayyappa temple. She tried to book through the virtual queue booking system, but it failed. Nanditha said if she is not permitted to visit the temple before she turns 10, she will not be able to visit the temple for another four decades. The petition stated that the action on the part of the state police chief in not enabling her to apply for the virtual queue system to have darshan was violative of her right under Article 25 of the Constitution. The court directed the state police to ensure that she is able to visit the temple along with her parents on the day on which they have got booking for darshan. WITH THIS ISSUE Making Waves PLUS 12 PAGES
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18-04-2021 of The New Indian Express-Thiruvananthapuram