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 ■ ■ BHUBANESWAR l sunday l april 18, 2021 l `12.00 l PAGES 24 l late CITY EDITION 50% of maha Covid samples showing double mutations 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 health Ministry yet to give a clear picture 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 Locally dominant variants found ■ ■ ■ 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 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 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 o x 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 Delhi in its fight against the pan- Bengal polls 78% voting, stray violence in 5th phase E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Kolkata the fifth-phase of Bengal Assembly polls on Saturday witnessed sporadic incidents of violence but the voter turnout was robust at 78.36%. The final polling figure is likely to be declared by the Election Commission on Sunday . According to the Election Commission, 81.73% votes were cast in Jalpaiguri district, followed by Purba Bardhaman (81.72%), Nadia (81.57%), North 24 Parganas (74.83%), Darjeeling (74.31%) and Kalimpong (69.56%). A TMC supporter was injured when a BJP supporter allegedly opened fire in Shantipur Assembly constituency in Nadia district. In Chakdaha Assembly constituency an independent can, didate was seen walking with an improvised firearm in front of policemen. He finally dropped the weapon alleging that a TMC worker hurled the firearm at him and he was walking towards the cops to hand it over to them. In Bidhannagar constituency where TMC’s Sujit Bose , and BJP’s Sabsyachi Dutta are contesting, a pitched battle between the supporters of the two groups broke out. Both the groups scuffled and pelted stones at each other. Dutta’s followers alleged TMC supporters were not allowing the electorates residing in Shantinagar area, while the ruling party’s activists accused their rivals of bringing P8 outsiders. demic, 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 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. NATIONWIDE Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths April 16 2,33,351 1,23,354 1,341 April 17 2,40,423 1,25,751 1,303 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 (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-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 prime minister ordered speeding up works on plants to address the shortage of medical grade oxygen. “The officials said that one lakh cylinders are being procured and they will be supplied to states soon. A supply mapping plan for 12 high-burden states till April 30 has also been undertaken,” added the PMO. Earlier, heeding to Modi’s appeal for a symbolic Kumbh at Hardwar in the wake of mounting public concern, Juna Akhara – the largest among the 13-seer group – announced formal conclusion of the gathering on its part. The decision came after the prime minister spoke to the head of the Juna Akhara, Swami Awdheshanand, on Saturday morning. Naveen calls upon Modi to allow open market vax sale E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Bhubaneswar With shortage of Covid-19 vaccines due to inadequate supply threatening to derail the inoculation drive, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday suggested to the Centre that the vaccines should be made available in open market to enable willing citizens, who can afford the the costs, to take the shot. “This will help governments to have a focused approach towards vulnerable sections of society,” Naveen said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Chief Minister said Covid vaccines which have already been approved globally by credible agencies and the state governments should be accorded approval to increase supply He said few . metropolitan cities which contribute the highest Covid cases should be allowed priority vaccination with flexibility in age criteria as these are the economic nerve centres of the country. Any lockdown in these areas will have an impact on the rest of the country in terms of labour movement, he added. India has a huge vaccine manufacturing potential and the Centre and states should support units to ramp up vaccine production, Naveen said and added that as this is an extraordinary situation, the governments should run the extra mile in this regard. Odisha has till date administered about 47 lakh vaccine doses to healthcare and frontline workers, and persons above 45 years, he said. The Chief Minister said Odisha has a capacity to administer more than three lakh doses every day and there is also a huge response of people to get vaccinated. However, intermittent supply is creating a challenge in meeting the demand, he said and added that in this backdrop, he had requested supply of 25 lakh vaccine doses for administering three lakh doses every day “Even at full ca. pacity, it will take us 160 days to fully vaccinate the eligible population of above 45 years in the State,” he added. Stating that at an appropriate time, adequate quantity of vaccines should be made available for the states to procure and scale up their vaccination process, the Chief Minister hoped that the Centre would be planning to scale up the drive to widen its scope. “I am sure with our continued cooperation, India will be able to fight this situation and save people’s lives,” he added. express read YSR writes to Naveen Vijayawada: Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has written to his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik requesting the latter’s cooperation in construction of Neradi Barrage across River Vamsadhara | P5 WITH THIS ISSUE Making Waves PLUS 12 PAGES Global Covid deaths top 3 million Rio de Janeiro: The global toll from the coronavirus topped a staggering 3 million people on Saturday amid a deepening crisis in Brazil, India and France. The number of lives lost, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine or Caracas, Venezuela | P12 10% samples are mutant strains Bhubaneswar: The surge in coronavirus cases across the State might be fuelled by mutated strains as at least 10 pc samples sequenced in Odisha so far have been found to be variants of concern | P3 southern comfort ANDHRA PRADESH Beds: 11,194 (available) Oxygen: No shortage TELANGANA 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 Maharashtra mulls oxygen import through sea route S u d h i r S u r ya w a n s h i @ 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 tonnes (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 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 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 the desired level. “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 good health infrastructure, but what we need is the central support,” Tope added. The state government has already approached the Centre with a slew of demands, including the increased availability of oxygen cylinders and Remdesivir. P7 Pharmas slash Remdesivir prices in the country New Delhi: Following an appeal by the Centre to the Remdesivir manufacturers not to charge more than `3,500 per vial in India, drug makers on Saturday slashed the price of the injection that has emerged as a key experimental therapy for moderate to severe Covid-19. It will now cost `899-3,490 per 100 ml vial
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