bhubaneswar l sunday l april 25, 2021 l `12.00 l PAGES 24 l late CITY EDITION 8 dead, 31 missing in U’khand avalanche; rescue ops on Disaster struck Border Roads Organisation’s Sumna-Rimkhim road site in Chamoli near India-China border on Friday night 384 rescued after glacier collapses The avalanche occurred after a part of a glacier collapsed, trapping around 430 road construction workers. Search operations were mounted by the Indian Army and ITBP, resulting in the rescue of 384 people. Seven injured persons were flown to the Army hospital in Joshimath in helicopters. Both the Army and the ITBP’s forward camps in the area were unaffected | P8 18 inches second major disaster since february ■ The site is located near the confluence of the Girthigad and the Kiogad, two streams that originate from the Dhauli Ganga river, which witnessed a calamitous avalanche in February, killing 80 ■ The road is crucial to gain access to locations like the disputed Barahoti area, where Chinese transgressions have been reported ice lost per year in glaciers since 2000 due to climate change 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 Announcement Dear reader, India is going through its worst phase of the Covid pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of people are struggling, many in vain, to exercise their right to live, as a ramshackle universal healthcare system proves that it has no answers to the challenges posed by a creepy bug. The health ministry’s daily bulletin of fresh positive cases and fatalities has hit the stratosphere, so have SOS messages from individuals and hospitals seeking oxygen refill and lifesaving medicines. Hospitals refuse fresh admissions for want of Covid beds. The rush at crematoriums is heart-breaking. Most of us already have friends or relatives who have succumbed to Covid-19 or are battling for life. In such a tragic time, we find it incongruous that the festival of cricket is on in India, with layers of bio bubbles creating protection. This is commercialism gone crass. The problem is not with the game but its timing. Cricket, too, must accept that we are passing through an unprecedented crisis. In the circumstances, The New Indian Express has decided to suspend IPL coverage in the newspaper with immediate effect till a semblance of normalcy is restored. This is a small gesture towards keeping the nation’s attention focused on life and death issues. We are sure that our readers will see the point. These are times when we must stand as one nation with one resolve. — Editor sos messages flood twitter @Tarunvijay My elder cousin brother, 91, no plasma available, no oxygen cylinder. Hospiral docsxsaidghar le jaiye. #Faridabad. Where are we heading t ? Those without any connection, those who do not know any influential person, those who are just commoners,,,, @malini_aisola @JaiveerShergill An Undertaking that loved ones are being asked to sign at @SarojHospital, Delhi hospital that says it is not the responsibility of the hospital if the patient dies due to scarcity of oxygen Need hospital bed for a 8month pregnant lady -oxygen level has dipped to 84 and situation not looking good at all. She is right now in Dwarka -Any leads please let me know!! @AdityaRajKaul #SOS DELHI Baby needs ventilator. In Critical State. Ad-Nehru vihar Mustafabad Delhi Age 2.2year Please help, Delhi!! @sumeetbhasin Requirement of Plasma Donor on urgent basis of “A or AB” blood group. Age - 53 Years/ Female Admitted in Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh thaman S @MusicThaman FIGHTING FOR LIFE A VERY GOOD MUSICIAN O+VE PLASMA VERY URGENT LOCATION DIYA HOSPITAL Delhi HC asks Centre when 480 mt of O2 / day allocated for national capital would see light of the day, raps city govt for being inefficient; says those who could be saved are also dying HC fumes as govts pass oxygen buck the Delhi High Court on Saturday pulled up both the Centre and the Delhi government for passing the buck in the midst of a pandemic and directed them to ensure smooth supply of oxygen to various hospitals in the national capital. In an urgent hearing on Saturday a bench of justices Vipin , Sanghi and Rekha Palli warned it will hang any person who tries to obstruct oxygen supplies to hospitals here. The court said those who have low immunity may eventually die but the problem comes when people who could be saved are also dying. “We are calling it a wave, it is actually a tsunami,” the court said. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said there might be a rapid rise in the number of cases in May and June and the country needs to be ready for the worst. He explained how the government is working round the clock to import oxygen and are exploring the remotest possibility of generating oxygen from wherever it is possible. The court was hearing sub- E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech on Saturday announced that its Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, will cost `600 per dose to state governments and `1,200 per dose to private hospitals, two days after its competitor Serum Institute of India declared the procurement rate for Covishield through non-Central government channels. The company’s vaccine will continue to be delivered to the Centre for `150 per dose. “We would like to state that more than 50% of our capacities have been reserved for Central government supplies,” it said adding that the vaccine has a distinct feature of having a 28-day open vial policy. This pAGE 8 NATIONWIDE April 23 Covid patients getting free oxygen, arranged by a Sikh organisation at Indirapuram Gurdwara, in Ghaziabad on Saturday | pti missions by the counsel for Maharaja Ag rasen Hospital, Jaipur Golden Hospital, Batra Hospital and Saroj Super Speciality Hospital here over shortage of oxygen for treating seriously-ill Covid patients. The hearing happened on a day when 20 Covid patients died in Delhi’s Jaipur Golden Hospital and six patients at a private hospital in Amritsar reportedly due to shortage of medical oxygen. During the hearing, the Centre said, “States are arranging tankers. We are just assisting The HC also questioned Delhi government officials as to what endeavour they have made to secure tankers to get the supply of oxygen allocated to it by the Centre. The court observed that while the tankers had reached the plant in Durgapur and were ready to be transported through railway for Rourkela and Kalinga Nagar, the Delhi government did not arrange tanker. “We know how people react (when they lose their loved ones). Let’s not have a law and order situation,” the HC said. them. But in Delhi, everything is put on us (Centre).” “Let’s try and not be a cry baby Solicitor General Tushar ,” Mehta said in response to Delhi government lawyer’s complaint that the Centre was not complying with the guidelines for oxygen allocation. “You had assured us that 480 mt per day will reach Delhi. Tell us when will it come?,” the court asked Centre after the city government said it was getting only 380 mt per day over the past few days and it received only around 300 mt on Friday . means, once opened, the vaccine can be stored at 2-8 degree Celsius for 28 days. Bharat Biotech also sought to justify the price, viewed as steep by many saying Covaxin , is an inactivated and highly purified vaccine, and that the manufacturing process is expensive. All costs towards product development, manufacturing facilities and clinical trials were deployed primarily using internal funding and resources of Bharat Biotech, said the company . The company also said that “recovering costs is essential in the journey of innovation towards other vaccine such as intranasal Covid19, Zika, Chikungunya, Cholera and others.” Bharat Biotech is honoured to develop, manufacture and supply Covaxin for India’s vaccine rollout at `150 per dose, which is distributed for free by the Government of India. We would like to state that more than 50 per cent of our capacities have been reserved for central government supplies Company statement The confusion over the cost of Covishield continued on Saturday with the Union health min, istry saying it would keep procuring it at `150 per dose, while the Serum Institute of India had said on record earlier it would sell the vaccine at `400 to the Centre after its initial order is fulfilled. The ministry’s clarification came at a time when Covishield manufacturer SII is facing intense criticism over its differ- ential pricing. As part of its new policy, the Centre had recently created two streams of procurement with 50% going to itself and the rest being shared by states and private hospitals. The SII had announced `400 as the cost per dose for states and `600 for private hospitals. With the ministry and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh locked in a sparring match, the latter tweeted: “SII said `400 is the new price for ALL new govt procurements — States & Centre. What’s the truth?” continued on: P7 The initial prices were kept very low globally as it was based on advance funding given by those countries for at-risk vaccine manufacturing. The initial supply price for all government programmeshas been the lowest SII statement 3,32,730 1,93,279 2,263 April 24 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths Centre says `150/dose, SII says `400 @ New Delhi Takes charge as Chief Justice of India Twitter took down dozens of tweets in India, some of which were critical of the Centre’s handling of the pandemic, to comply with an emergency order from the government. The order had directed it to censor over 50 tweets, including some from prominent users State govts can buy Covaxin at `600, pvt hospitals at `1,200 E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e ramana tweets critical of govt taken down K a n u S a r d a @ New Delhi 3,46,786 2,19,838 2,624 Odisha works out modalities for oxygen supply as western districts rush SoS E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Bhubaneswar As the worst-hit states are struggling with an acute oxygen crisis, Odisha government, in its bid to preempt such a situation here, on Saturday put in place modalities to meet the demand at the dedicated Covid hospitals (DCHs), Covid care homes and Covid care centres (CCCs). The Health and Family Welfare department has planned to keep around 75,000 beds, including 12,000 beds in DCHs, ready with oxygen support. The State produces 375 tonne of liquid medical oxygen per day. Oxygen consumption on Saturday was 36 metric tonne but is set to rise significantly with increasing cases. As per the modalities finalised after discussion with collectors and CDMOs along with oxygen manufacturers and fillers, the drugs inspector at the district-level will ensure timely dispatch of empty cylinders to the assigned fillers and inform his counterpart of the district where the filler is stationed for immediate refilling. The drugs inspector will also identify a collection point for three to four CCCs in consultation with the medical superintendents/CDMOs and assign transport vehicles to each collection point. The superintendents/CDMOs will engage vehicles for transportation of oxygen cylinders. Additional Chief Secretary of Health PK Mohapatra said the health officials have been asked to share the details of vehicles with the local drugs inspector for GPS tagging and regularly submit a report to the State team for proper monitoring of supply and availability . Meanwhile, with the western Odisha region under the grip of a severe surge, the district administrations have sent SoS to the State government for supply of more oxygen cylinders to manage ICU and HDU beds in the dedicated CONTINUED ON: P5 Covid hospitals. Holding tax hike by BMC not sustainable in law: HC E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Cuttack In a significant judgement, the Orissa High Court has held that any attempt by the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) to enhance holding tax is not sustainable in law. The Court said the holding tax cannot be enhanced till the State legislature passes a law specifically authorising the municipal corporation to levy and collect taxes. The BMC had admittedly raised the holding tax by following the procedure envisaged under the Orissa Municip a l ( O M ) A c t , 1 9 5 0 fo r enhancing the rate of holding tax in the light of the transitional provision contained in the Orissa Municipal Corporation (OMC) Act, 2003. The division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice BP Routray ruled that the transitional provision, Section 694 (3) of the OMC Act cannot be invoked by BMC to justify either the raising of the rate of holding tax or to continue to levy and collect it for a period subsequent to the repeal of the OM Act. “The question of BMC resorting to the procedure under the OM Act, after its repeal, is to no avail since under the OMC Act, there is no concept of holding tax at all. So the question of legitimising such demand by following the procedure under the OM Act, after its repeal by the OMC Act, does not arise,” the bench observed. Enhancement of holding tax by BMC ‘is unsustainable in law’ as it seeks to collect the holding tax for a period after the commencement of the OMC Act, and at a rate higher than that prevalent when the OM Act was in force, the HC ruled while disposing of a petition on Thursday. Kalyani Maternity Hospital Pvt Ltd had filed the petition in 2012. “The legislative intent, engrafted in the OMC Act, was only to preserve the right of BMC to collect tax which were leviable immediately before commencement of the OMC Act and which were being imposed. It by no means permits BMC to raise the rate of a tax that was leviable for a period prior to the coming into force of the Act”, the bench further ruled. Test positivity shoots over 16 pc in State E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Bhubaneswar As the second wave of Covid-19 sweeps through the country, Odisha too is beginning to enter the explosive phase with test positivity rate (TPR) shooting over 16 per cent (pc) on Saturday . The State reported 6,647 new cases pushing the total confirmed cases over four lakh. Eight more succumbed to the disease during the period. The tally soared to 4,01,341 with active cases surpassing last peak count of 39,184 and stood at 43,304. The daily caseload remained above 6,000 for the third consecutive day with Khurda contributing a bulk of the new infections and registering more than 1,000 cases for the second time this week. The TPR in 11 districts continues to be alarming. Nuapada has the highest positivity rate of 39.7 pc followed by 38 pc in Kalahandi, 36.4 pc in Sambalpur, 30 pc in Sundargarh, 29.5 pc in Bargarh, 23.4 pc each in Puri and Angul, 23 pc in Khurda, 20 pc each in Jharsuguda and Nabarangpur and 16.7 pc in Keonjhar. The State is steadily catching up the national trend as the TPR has gone from one pc to over 16 pc in less than a month. However, what is even more worrying is that the State continued to test less despite a rapid rise in test positivity, which is a worst possible scenario from an epidemiological perspective. The number of tests remains in sub-40,000 range against 50,000 to 60,000 tests a day when the daily count was 3,000 to 4,000 with a TPR of six pc to 7.5 pc during the first wave. Surprisingly the number of , tests and the share of RT-PCR are less in the districts having highest TPR. Since it is difficult to say the exact status of infection in the hotspot districts with less number of tests, health experts said the State can go for aggressive rap- id antigen tests in the clusters and micro containment zones if it lacks required facility to suddenly ramp up RT-PCR tests. “Early identification and isolation of positive cases are as important as making facilities available for treatment. Now every fever with sore throat will have to be treated as Covid until it is proved otherwise. The next 15 days to one month is very crucial. We have to strictly follow the standardised protocol and there is no place of complacency,” said ODISHA April 23 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths April 24 6,251 2,452 8 6,647 3,175 8 LORD’S DOORS CLOSED TILL MAY 15 Puri: The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) on Saturday decided to close the Srimandir for public darshan till May 15 in face of a vicious surge of COVID in the State. However, rituals of the deities will be performed as usual in the shrine. The closure of the shrine is aimed at protecting the servitors, said Chief Administrator Dr Krishan Kumar | P4 Additional Professor (Community Medicine) of AIIMS Dr Binod Kumar Patro. Director of Medical Education and Training Prof CBK Mohanty said despite the surge in western Odisha districts and Khurda, the State is better placed as compared to other states in terms of treatment facilities and bed occupancy . “The growth of infection in 10 districts bordering Chhattisgarh is like the worst-hit states. We hope it will gradually improve and the curve starts plateauing soon. Now the focus is on preventing the spread of infection in the northern part of the State,” he added. Stay home, Stay Safe Jaydev Vihar main road wears a deserted look as people stay indoors during weekend shutdown in Bhubaneswar on Saturday | Irfana W I TH TH I S The Covid Generation I S S U E PLUS 12 PAGES express read Odisha to announce free vaccine for all Bhubaneswar: As the Centre geared up to roll out Phase III vaccination strategy from May 1, Odisha government is all set to procure Covid-19 vaccine for the entire population of 18 to 44 years. While at least 13 states including Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana have already announced vaccination free for the age group, sources privy to the development said, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is likely to make an announcement in this regard on Sunday | P3 AIIMS in virus grip, 22 pc HCWs skip jabs Bhubaneswar: Doctors, nurses and paramedics were the priority group among the healthcare workers during the first phase of vaccination. The preference was given to the Covid warriors so that they can remain protected or have less complication if infected again and continue their service. It may sound strange but 22 per cent HCWs of AIIMS Bhubaneswar have not been administered a single dose and 39 pc have not got second dose | P3
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