villupuram l tuesday l April 27, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION Wear masks even at home, govt says amid covid surge It is high time people followed Covid-appropriate behaviour inside their homes as well, says NITI Aayog member (health) Dr V K Paul Don’t step outside, don’t invite guests The statement came days after a new assessment published in The Lancet said there is consistent, strong evidence to prove that the SARSCoV-2 virus, which is behind the Covid-19 pandemic, is predominantly transmitted through the air. Paul added that people should avoid stepping out of their houses unnecessarily and also not invite guests at home | P7 ■ $190 No mask means 90% risk of infection ■ “The way the infection has spread, it will be better if we wear mask inside our homes if we’re sitting with someone,” Dr Paul said “If the mask is not worn properly, there is 90% chance an infected patient can transfer virus to an uninfected person,” said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Thailand p.m. Prayuth Chan-ocha fined FOR NOT WEARING MASK IN A MEETING 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 Full lockdown in Karnataka, partial in Kerala E x p r e s s ne w s s e r v i c e @ Bengaluru/Kochi/Chandigarh With Covid-19 cases spiralling gout of control, the Karnataka government on Monday announced a 14-day curfew across the state, while Kerala decided to enforce restrictions far more strictly starting Tuesday . Briefing reporters, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said all commercial activities will remain prohibited, but manufacturing units (except garments factories), agricul- tural production, medical supplies production and construction activities will be allowed. “No public transport will be allowed, but movement of cargo and goods vehicles will not be hindered. Shops selling croceries, milk, meat and other essentials will be allowed to open between 6 am and 10 am every day Night curfew, which is already . in place between 9 am and 6 am, will continue. If cases do not come under control, then we may have to extend these restrictions for another week,” Yediyurappa said. In Kerala, an all-party meeting on Monday decided against total lockdown, but gave the nod to enforce restrictions far more strictly As part of . the move, malls, bars, liquor outlets, cinema halls, clubs, sports complexes, swimming pools, gymnasiums and entertainment parks will be closed from Tuesday until further orders. All social, political, cultural and religious functions/ gatherings are also prohibited until further orders. The number of attendees at ‘ECI responsible for 2nd wave’; HC threatens to stop vote-count H A RISH M UR A LI @ Chennai A Covid-positive patient on oxygen support waiting for admission in a car outside the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital in Delhi on Monday | Parveen Negi Bengal has highest case spike rate now Fresh infections spiralling at 9.5% in state, followed by Karnataka; highest test positivity rate in Kolkata E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi At 9.5%, poll-bound West Bengal has the highest Covid-19 case growth in the country now, data shared by the Union health ministry showed. It was followed by Karnataka, which has a near explosive growth rate of 9%, while Delhi, reeling under a huge medical oxygen crisis, has the second lowest growth rate at 1.5% after Maharashtra (0.5 %), among the surge states. And at about 50%, Bengal’s capital Kolkata now has the highest test positivity rate. The stark West Bengal data showed a mirror to the Election Commission of India that till recently chose to ignore all violations of Covid-appropriate behaviour in the run up to the eight-phase elections in the state. Despite massive mask-less political rallies that created an uproar, the poll panel tried to wish them away till last week when it got a stinker from the Calcutta High Court and was forced to act. Our IPL Space Invisible helping hands Several people across India have used Twitter as a platform to launch one of the biggest SOS campaigns to help people to survive Covid crisis A novel initiative Fr John Puthuva, the vicar of a church in Kalady near Kochi, has been visiting patients to offer them comfort. He also launched #VaccineChallenge drive | P11 India, now the worst-hit in the pandemic globally, has been reporting nearly 1,500 or more daily deaths since April 20. On Sunday the highest , 2,812 fatalities were recorded. There are also concerns that the fatality count is being majorly undercounted in most cities and towns. The country now has 28,13,656 active cases of which 3,52,991 were registered in the last 24 hours, but the Centre has not disclosed the number of people hospitalised, on oxygen support, in ICUs or those on ventilators. In a health ministry press briefing on Monday, several government authorities, including V K Paul, member, Niti Aayog and Randeep Guleria, director, AIIMS Delhi, stressed that no healthcare infrastructure in the world can take the load of such huge numbers. Both Paul and Guleria, senior members of the national Covid-19 task force, urged patients to follow home isolation protocols unless hospitalisation is absolutely required. Censuring the Election Commission of India (ECI) for not stopping political parties that were deliberately abusing the Covid-19 protocol during pre-election rallies, the Madras High Court on Monday said the commission was “singularly responsible” for the second wave of the pandemic in the country The court . also warned that it would stop the counting of votes on May 2 if the poll panel didn’t put in place a strict Covid-19 protocol. When the ECI contended that it had earlier put safety measures in place, the bench orally observed, “Were you on another planet when political rallies were being held?” It further stated, “Election Commission Officers should probably be booked o n m u rd e r charges.” The first bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, made these observations on a plea moved by Transport Minister MR Vijayabhaskar, who sought a direction to the ECI to ensure strict adherence to safety measures to ensure fairness in the counting the votes. The petitioner said 77 candidates had contested in his constituency and , due to the lockdown on Sundays, the ECI should display the votes received by each candidate, announce the tally clearly in every round, and move to the next round only with the consent of all agents. He also sought the installation of more CCTV cameras in the counting centre and provision of the best-possible surveillance. P4 2nd wave more dangerous for children, say doctors S i n d u j a Jane @ Chennai Doctors treating children with Covid-19 say that in the second wave of the pandemic, even two-year-olds are being brought to hospitals with lung infections, which is something they didn’t see in the first wave. On April 23, a 19-day-old girl from Chennai died due to Covid pneumonia at the Government Institute of Child Health, Egmore. Doctors say it was probably the first such death among children. Dr S Ezhilarasi, di- rector of the institute, said the parents of the baby had symptoms of Covid but didn’t know they had the disease. The baby was referred to the hospital from outside and was brought in a critical condition. “The baby died of Covid pneumonia. This is probably the first case in Tamil Nadu among children succumbing to Covid pneumonia. We didn’t see such lung infection last year. This is our first case too. The other children are fine,” said Dr Ezhilarasi. Continued on P4 Unsung hero This O2 tanker driver hasn’t met his kids for a yr A j i t h M S @ Mysuru Shankar Majhi, who drives oxygen tankers, has not seen his daughters for a year. But his bigger worry is about safely transporting liquid oxygen to hospitals on time, every time. A small misstep can leave many gasping, with Covid-19 cases in a spiral. Majhi, who has been driving oxygen tankers for the past 20 years, says he has never seen so much demand or done so many trips before. He and his co-driver, Md Hakeekath, both from Bihar, take turns to run at least three round trips a week – to Koppal and back to Mysuru – transporting oxygen without a break. “Many lives depend on this oxygen. We do not even stop for tea through the eight-hour journey. During decanting too, we have to be around. Until the tanker reaches the oxygen plant, we are on our toes,” he said. “Earlier, we used to take a day’s break between trips but now there is no time for that,” he added. Majhi, father of five daughters and a son, says he has not met his family since the pandemic started. “Every time my daughters call, I feel like going back, but my duty is more important now,” he said, adding that he gets only his basic pay though he’s putting in extra work and taking more risk. Md Hakeekath, who joined just six months ago, says he never expected it to be so hectic. “But when we see patients, we forget our problems.” weddings (two-hour duration) and funerals has been limited to 50 and 20, respectively Weddings should be reg. istered on the Covid 19 Jagratha Portal, the government said. Meanwhile, the Punjab government also announced stricter restrictions by advancing weekday curfew by two hours. In a tweet, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh said that the state was enforcing lockdown from 6 pm to 5 am on weekdays and a weekend lockdown that would begin at 6 pm on Friday until 5 am on Monday . NATIONWIDE April 25 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 3,49,691 2,17,113 2,767 April 26 3,52,991 2,19,272 2,812 April 25 Take 14,09,16,417 doses your April 26 shot 31,74,688 doses Total: 14,50,85,911 doses Parties in State align, agree to produce oxygen at Sterlite E x p r e s s ne w s s e r v i c e @ Chennai Amid the urgent demand for oxygen to treat Covid-19 patients, political parties in Tamil Nadu set aside their differences on Monday and unanimously decided to permit the reopening of the Sterlite Copper plant to produce medical oxygen. The decision was taken at an all-party meeting convened by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami at the Secretariat. Meanwhile, Vedanta Limited, which runs the Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi, filed a special leave petition in court, saying the State government shouldn’t be allowed to take over the plant since it doesn’t have the requisite operational expertise. Palaniswami explained at the allparty meeting that Vedanta had sought the Supreme Court’s permission to operate the two oxygen-pro- ducing units at the Sterlite Copper plant to produce 1,050 MT of the gas per day and supply it to hospitals free of cost. The total volume of medical oxygen produced in India is about 7,500 MT per day . A resolution was then passed at the meeting, saying the plant may be opened for four months, only to produce oxygen, using electricity supplied by TANGEDCO. After this period, the electricity supply should be disconnected, it added. It further said that only the excess oxygen produced is to be supplied to other States, and only employees involved in oxygen production are to enter the plant, with the government overseeing security at the premises. Work at the plant is to be monitored by a team comprising the district Collector, SP , officers of the PCB and environmental activists, among others. P2 Modi thanks Biden for offering support STATEWIDE New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked US President Joe Biden during a phone conversation on Monday evening for extending support. “Discussion with US president also underscored importance of smooth & efficient supply chains of vaccine raw materials, medicines,” Modi said in a tweet Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths April 25 15,659 11,065 82 April 26 15,684 13,625 94 ‘Covid resurgence could derail economy’ E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Hyderabad Covid resurgence carries the risk of protracted restrictions and disruptions in supply chains with consequent inflationary pressures, according to RBI. Pandemic protocols, speedier vaccination, ramping up hospitals and ancillary capacity, and remaining resolutely focused on a post-pandemic future of strong and sustainable growth of macroeconomic and financial stability is the way forward, the central bank noted in its monthly bulletin released on Monday . According to the banking regulator, India’s economic activity is holding up against Covid-19’s renewed onslaught. With activity indicators largely remaining resilient in March and growing beyond pre-pandemic levels, it said growth outlook is bright. “If the relatively conservative growth forecast of the RBI holds, India’s GDP in 2021-22 will exceed its level in the pre-pandemic year of 2019-2020,” it said adding that there will be scars, some taking longer than others to heal. Meanwhile, retail inflation in March edged up to 5.5% but still was within the tolerance band. Meanwhile, the central bank hasn’t ruled out upside risks to inflation due to input price pressures in manufacturing and services as evidenced from the PMI data. The WPI touching a 103-month high of 7.4% indicating a pick up in costs across farm and industrial sectors was also evident.
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