nagapattinam l tuesday l April 20, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION In a First for another planet, NASA Mars copter takes flight NASA’s Ingenuity rose into the thin air above the dusty surface of Mars on Monday, achieving the first powered flight by an aircraft on another planet Ingenuity logs 39.1 seconds of flight The solar-powered helicopter became airborne at 12:33 Local Mean Solar Time (Mars time) – a time the Ingenuity team determined would have optimal energy and flight conditions. Ingenuity climbed to its prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds. It, then, touched down on Mars surface after logging 39.1 seconds of flight ■ $85 million Autonomous flight demonstration ■ Ingenuity’s initial flight demonstration was autonomous – piloted by onboard guidance, navigation, and control systems The flight was full of unknowns. The Red Planet has just one-third of Earth’s gravity and its atmosphere is extremely thin with only 1% the pressure at the surface compared to our planet | P12 Cost of the high-risk helicopter demo flight on mars surface 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 18+ part of Liberalised vax regime To be effective from May 1; states can procure directly from manufacturers, who can also sell in open market; up to states, private players to procure foreign jabs S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta @ New Delhi Heeding to calls to reduce the age cap, the Centre on Monday opened its phase 3 vaccination drive to include all above 18 years of age from May 1, after a series of meetings Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with different stakeholders. It also substantially eased its grip on vaccine manufacturers, empowering them to release up to 50% of their stock to states and also sell the jabs in the open market at a pre-declared price. Importantly, foreign made ready-to-use vaccines will be available only in the market or procured by states but not by the Centre. States have also been permitted to procure additional vaccine doses directly from the manufacturers, and open up vaccination to any category of people above the age of 18 for it. Prominent among those who had pressed the Centre to expand the beneficiary basket were chief ministers Amarinder Singh (Punjab) and Uddhav Thackeray (Maharashtra). The decision to allow everyone above 18 years to get the vaccines also came on a day when the Centre reportedly extended a credit line of `3,000 crore to the Pune-based Serum Institute of India and `1,500 crore to Bharat Biotech. Manufacturers will make an advance declaration of the price for 50% supply that will be available to states and in the market, before May 1. Based on this price, state governments, private hospitals and industrial establishments among others can procure doses from the manufacturers. Private hospitals have to procure their supplies exclusively from the 50% earmarked for other than the Central government channel. “This would augment vaccine production as well as availability, incentivising vaccine manufacturers to rapidly ramp up their production as well as attract new vaccine manufacturers, domestic and international. It would also make pricing, procurement, eligibility and administration of vaccines open and flexible, allowing all stakeholders the flexibility to customise to local needs and dynamics,” said the Centre. All vaccinations, however, will be part of the national vaccination programme, and mandated to follow all protocols such as being captured on CoWIN platform, linked to Adverse Event Following Immunisation reporting and all other prescribed norms. Also, the second dose of all existing priority groups wherever it has become due, will be given priority . Criteria for distribution of Centre’s share The Centre, from its share, will allocate vaccines to states based on the criteria of extent of infection and performance. Wastage of vaccine will also be considered in this criterion and will affect the criteria negatively. Based on these parameters, state-wise quota would be decided and communicated to the states adequately in advance 7 die as oxygen supply cut at Vellore hospital? Migrant workers at Kaushambi bus stand on the Delhi-UP border to board buses for their native places on Monday | Parveen Negi Delhi, parts of UP in lockdown, HC fiat to T’gana govt on curbs E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi / Lucknow / Hyderabad Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced a week-long lockdown starting Monday night till April 26. Barring essential services, all other activities will be banned during the lockdown. “After reviewing the entire situation, the government feels it is pertinent to impose a lockdown in Delhi for a few days... During this, all essential services with regard to food, medicine would continue” said the Chief Minister Kejriwal. The CM added that the heathcare infrastructure in the national capital, which is reeling under an explosion of coronavirus cases, is stretched beyond capacity and the lockdown is to ensure it doesn’t collapse. The decision was announced after a high-level meeting with the lieutenant governor Anil Baijal. After the announcement, serpentine queues were seen outside liquor shops with tipplers making a beeline to stock up booze. There were large crowds at the city’s inter-state bus terminals and railway stations as thousands of migrant workers set out to go to their native places. Kejriwal appealed them not to leave Delhi as this is a short lockdown of six days. Meanwhile, the Allahabad NATIONWIDE Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths April 18 2,61,500 1,38,423 1,501 April 19 2,72,191 1,44,178 1,619 High Court on Monday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to impose strict restrictions including closing of malls, shopping complexes and restaurants till April 26 in five cities — Allahabad, Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur Na g ar and Gorakhpur. The HC slammed the state government for “not planning” for a second wave of the pandemic and also criticised the State Election Commission for holding the panchayat elections at this time. Similarly, the Telangana High Court on Monday directed the state government to issue within 48 hours Covid-19 guidelines to minimise footfalls in liquor shops, restaurants, marriage halls and cinemas, among other crowded places. @ New Delhi Corona warrior scheme to be continued: Govt E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has clarified that the government is in talks with another insurance company for extension of the `50 lakh cover scheme for healthcare workers on Covid-19 duty under the Pradhan Mantri , Garib Kalyan Package. Launched last year, this scheme was discontinued according to a letter to the states from Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan. The letter said the insurance coverage was coming to an end on March 24 this year. In its clarification, the health ministry has added that it has been extended till April 24. The ministry said a “new dispensation will be provided to cover the Corona warriors, for which the ministry is in talks with the insurance company (New India Assurance)”. Reacting sharply to former PM Manmohan Singh’s letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi giving suggestions on how to tide over the pandemic, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday said even Congress-ruled states don’t seem to agree with him. “It is saddening, Dr Singh, that while you very well understand the importance of vaccination as an important method of fighting the Covid-19 battle, people in responsible positions in your party as well as in the Boris cancels trip British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancels India visit, will instead speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month to launch their plans for bilateral partnership STATE WIDE ‘Clinical issues to blame’ state governments formed by your party do not seem to share your view,” Vardhan wrote in his reply to Singh. Tweeting his reply, he said, “History shall be kinder to you Dr Manmohan Singh ji if your offer of ‘constructive cooperation’ and valuable advice was followed by your leaders as well in such extraordinary times!” Meanwhile, the Congress demanded an apology from Harsh Vardhan for his uncharacteristic remarks on the former PM. The party said the remarks were meaningless as the letter was addressed to PM Modi and not to the health minister. It also pointed out that the Centre has accepted most of the suggestions in Singh’s letter to the prime minister. “It is a welcome move that Government has woken up to Congress call of vaccination for all. Hope PM considers the other suggestions given by Dr. Singh & other experts as well,” tweeted Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge. adds India red list of from where India on UK The UK are banned.to itsban comes countriescases of the B.1.617 flights The amid 77 red list variant, first found in India, being detected in Britain Hong Kong suspends connecting flights All Hong Kong flights connecting it with India stand suspended from Tuesday till May 3. The suspension applies to Pakistan as well as the Philippines April 18 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths April 19 10,723 5,925 42 TN The hospital authorities said there were no glitches, and clinical complications were the sole cause of the deaths 10,941 6,172 44 C o v i d t r a c k e r 75,116 1,09,533 active cases people tested on Monday Chennai new cases 3,347 new cases 15 deaths 26,194 active cases Vardhan mocks MMS, Cong hits back E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e Seven patients in the Covid ward and other critical care wards at the Government Vellore Medical College Hospital (GVMCH) at Adukkamparai in Vellore district died under mysterious circumstances on Monday. While the victims’ relatives said the oxygen supply was snapped, government authorities asserted that the deaths were due to clinical conditions. Four of the victims were in the Covid ward. The time of the deaths could shed light on the cause, but officials didn’t disclose this information. Angry relatives of the victims accused the hospital authorities of failing to save the patients. “There was no oxygen supply When we asked . the doctors, they said technicians were attending to it,” said Vinoth, a relative of a patient in a critical care ward. As the bereaved broke down at the GVMCH, sources said there were glitches in the network, cutting the oxygen supply to the critically-ill. But the authorities denied this, claiming clinical complications caused the deaths. Top government officials, including Collector A Shanmuga Sundaram, are conducting inquiries. “The deaths were caused by clinical conditions,” he said even before a detailed inquiry, adding that four of the victims had diabetes mellitus, hypertension and other comorbidities, such as renal failure and cardiac complications. Stating that 59 patients in Covid wards and 62 in non-Covid wards were dependent on oxygen, he added that if there was a problem with the oxygen supply, all these patients would have suffered. The GVMCH has a 10,000-litre oxygen tank and 55 cylinders on standby. Moreover, a 6,000-litre tank was commissioned on Monday , Sundaram said. GVMCH dean Dr R Selvi, who was beside the Collector, remained silent. Director of Medical Education (DME) Narayanababu will probe the incident. On April 7, two Covid patients died at the RGGGH in Chennai, allegedly because Oxygen supply was disrupted. R S i v a K u m a r @ Vellore 970 Chengalpet 735 Coimbatore 535 Tiruvallur 10,02,392 tally 13,157 toll Manmohan tests positive for Covid Former PM Manmohan Singh, 88, on Monday tested positive for Covid-19. He was admitted to All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi with a mild fever on Monday afternoon. He is stable and doctors are monitoring his condition. Singh had taken both the doses of Covid vaccine. PM Narendra Modi was among those who wished him speedy recovey Maharashtra Some relief as Covid cases dip to 58,924 a day after logging the highest 68,631 positive cases on Sunday West Bengal Cases climb in poll-bound state, hitting its highest single-day spike of 8,426 Cluster at Saravana Stores as 39 workers test positive E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Chennai As many as 39 workers at Saravana Stores in Purasaivakkam here have tested positive for Covid-19. The home appliance store on Kariappa Street has since been shut, and the road barricaded and marked as a containment zone. Officials said the cases were reported from the store’s dormitory but since the shop and dorm are in the same building, both , have been shut. On Friday, 166 swab samples were tested, of which 13 returned positive; and on Sunday, 159 swabs were tested, of which 26 returned positive. “All the employees are young. Some have been admitted to the Communicable Diseases Hospital and some are in home isolation. They are asymptomatic,” Corporation officials said, adding that everyone living on Kariappa Street would be tested, and has been advised to stay home. The source of infection has not been identified since “the spread is everywhere”, officials said, adding that none of the infectees has a travel history . Déjà vu Is another spell of reverse migration beginning? CP B a l a s u b r a m a n ya m @ Chennai Migrant labourers at Central railway station in Chennai on Monday | R Satish Babu Fearing a repeat of last year’s distress, associations of people from the Northeast living in the State have called for an urgent consultative meeting on Wednesday The agenda is to . take stock of the pandemic situation and decide the course of action. With the State government announcing a partial lockdown, migrant workers worry that the agony they faced last year will return. In what is feared to be the beginning of another spell of reverse migration, scores of workers from northern States were on Monday seen waiting outside Chennai’s Central railway station with heaps of luggage. Among them was a group of youngsters who work at Thandalam. They had reserved tickets, but reached more than six hours ahead of their scheduled departure to Balasore in Odisha because they didn’t want to take any chances. Some of the people waiting at the station complained about the lack of tickets and how people are not allowed in without confirmed tickets. With platform tickets costing `50 since mid-March, workers had to think twice to enter the station to squeeze into a general compartment. A native of Bihar, 26-year-old Preetam (name changed), alleged a railway employee demanded a `500 bribe to let him in the station without a confirmed ticket. “Despite paying him, I will be fined again by the TTE for not possessing a ticket. I may as well give that money to the TTE and request him to let me stay on the train,” he said. Continued on P4
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