HYDERABAD TUESDAY APRIL 27, 2021 `7.00 PAGES 16 LATE 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 ■ $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 Will he, won’t he? KCR to decide on lockdown soon DESPAIR AND HOPE (From left to right): A beggar in Kamareddy carries his wife’s body to a burial ground for three km as locals refused them transport, suspecting Covid to be the cause of her death, on Sunday; one of the five oxygen tankers which arrived in the State from Odisha being used at King Koti Hospital in Hyderabad on Monday | VINAY MADAPU V V B A L A K R I S H N A @ Hyderabad READ MORE ON P4 Bengal has highest case spike rate now Infections up by 9.5% in state, highest test positivity rate in Kokata; 1,800% jump in U’khand active cases E X P R E S S N E W S S E 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. Another worrying figure was the 1,800% spike in active cases in Uttarakhand between March 31 and April 24, which coincided with the Haridwar Maha Kumbh, indicating the mela was a possible super spreader event in the state. Prior to the Maha Kumbh, the total active cases stood at 1,863 (March 31), but they quickly ballooned to 33,330 by April 24. 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. In a health ministry press briefing on Monday, several government authorities, including V K Paul, member, Niti Aayog and Randeep Guleria, director, AIIMS Delhi urged patients to follow home isolation protocols unless hospitalisation is absolutely reP7 quired. ‘ECI responsible for 2nd wave’; HC threatens to stop vote-count H A R I S H M U R A L I @ Chennai 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 Covid19 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 on murder charges.” The first bench made these observations on a plea moved by Transport Minister MR Vijayabhaskar, who sought a direction to the ECI to ensure adherence to safety measures. EXPRESS READ Full lockdown in Karnataka, partial one in Kerala 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 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 Owing to the surge in the number of Covid-19 cases, the Karnataka government ordered a 14-day ‘corona curfew’ in the State from Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, in Kerala, after an all party meeting on Monday, it was decided to enforce specific restrictions, or a ‘mini lockdown’, while temporarily ruling out the need for a full lockdown | P5 A FIRST FOR TS: 20-YR RI FOR RAPE ON 4-YR-OLD’S TESTIMONY E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Hyderabad IN a first in Telangana, the testimony of a four-year-old rape victim led to the conviction of the accused. The special court for POCSO cases at Hyderabad completed the trial in 137 days from the date of filing the FIR. The case was reported at Banjara Hills in November 2020. The court found the accused, Enaganti Chennaiah, 48, a lorry driver, guilty of the offence and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for 20 years. The victim’s family had migrated to the city from Odisha a decade ago. The court, which imposed a fine of `25,000 on Chennaiah, to be paid to the victim as compensation, also directed the State’s Legal Services Authority to pay `50,000 to the victim. Chennaiah was in prison from the time of his arrest till the trial ended. Though he had moved the court for bail several times, police opposed bail every time, due to which his pleas were dismissed. P3 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.” NATIONWIDE APRIL 25 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths TAKE YOUR SHOT 3,49,691 2,17,113 2,767 APRIL 26 3,52,991 2,19,272 2,812 April 25 25,36,612 doses April 26 31,74,688 doses Total: 14,50,85,911 doses WILL the State government impose a lockdown from the first week of May? In the wake of a steep increase in Covid-19 cases in the State, people, especially those from middle and lower middle classes, are inquiring whether the State is heading towards a lockdown. The word lockdown has become a buzzword among citizens. However, sources ruled out any possibility of the government opting for a total shutdown. The government might declare containment zones, but not a complete lockdown, said the sources. Clarity on whether the government would impose a lockdown, or declare containment zones, or continue the existing night curfew will emerge only at a high level meeting to be convened by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao this week. The Central government, while declaring that lockdown should be the last resort, had asked the States to evolve their own Covid-19 management strategy as per the local situations. In the neighbouring States of Karnataka and Maharashtra, complete lockdowns have been imposed. Some parts of the State, like Jagitial, are reporting a high number of cases as they border Maharashtra. However, it remains to be seen how the State government manages the pandemic post April 30. The current orders pertaining to night curfew will be in force till April 30. The Chief Minister, who had tested positive for the virus on April 19, is expected to visit Yashoda Hospital on Tuesday for a health check-up. Once he tests negative, he will conduct a review on Covid-19 either on P4 Wednesday or Thursday . BIDEN PROMISES FULL SUPPORT, PM THANKS HIM TELANGANA New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked US President Joe Biden for his assistance in managing the raging pandemic, during a phone conversation on Monday. “Discussion with US president also underscored importance of smooth & efficient supply chains of vaccine raw materials, medicines,” Modi said | P7 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths APRIL 24 8,126 3,307 38 APRIL 25 6,551 3,804 43 RBI flags risks from Covid resurgence E X P R E S S N E W S S E 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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