bhubaneswar l tuesday l april 27, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 14 l 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 | P9 ■ $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 Private hospitals stop Capital crisis Express news service @ 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 ARIS H MURA L I @ 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 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 reP9 quired. 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. 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 bul- letin 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. 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 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 Biden promises full support, PM thanks him New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked US President Joe Biden for his aid in managing the raging pandemic during a phone conversation on Monday | P9 admitting patients s u d a r s a n m a h a r a n a @ Bhubaneswar AMID the relentless surge of Covid-19, Bhubaneswar seems to be fast going the Delhi way. The scramble for beds by people to admit their disease-stricken kin and family members has assumed worrying proport i o n s w i t h p r ivat e h o s p i t a l s beginning to refuse patients under the plea of full-occupancy . This comes in the face of tall claims of the State government and Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) of having sufficient number of beds in the Capital city. Most of the private hospitals have started putting up no vacancy boards and denying admissions even to those who require emergency critical care, citing dearth of beds. When The New Indian Express called up some of the major hospitals having Covid beds to find out their availability each proclaimed 100 per , cent occupancy . AMRI staff dealing with Covid admissions said apart from general beds, the hospital’s 17 ICU beds have been occupied. Similarly, one of the staff at the emergency cell of Care Hospitals, said that all the beds allotted for Cov- id patients in the health facility have remained occupied since Sunday. “Not a single bed is available, either in Covid ward, isolation ward or the ICU,” he said and suggested to approach other private hospitals for admission. Response of Sparsh hospital at Saheed Nagar was no different. The hospital has 40 ICU beds along with other normal beds for treatment of Covid patients. However, admission of Covid patients at the hospital has been stopped for now as all the beds are occupied. Some other hospitals including Sunshine were not even accessible over phone. However, the claims of private hospitals have been questioned and it is being alleged that they are only admitting the influential and powerful wh i l e t u r n i n g aw ay c r i t i c a l patients. CONTINUED ON: P7 ODISHA Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths April 25 6,116 3,464 7 April 26 6,599 4,180 9 Vax wait may extend to mid-May in Odisha H e m a n t K u m a r R o u t @ Bhubaneswar Even as Odisha government has placed orders for procurement of Covid vaccines for its population aged between 18 and 44 years, the Phase III vaccination programme is unlikely to be rolled out across the State on May 1 as scheduled by the Centre. The State may not get the vaccines from manufacturers before May 15. Odisha has ordered 3.77 crore doses of Covishield at `400 per dose and 10.34 lakh doses of Covaxin at `600 per dose for 1.93 crore people in the age group of 18 to 44 years and requested the manufacturers to supply the stock at the earliest. Since all stock of Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech till May 15 has been booked by the Centre for vaccination of people, aged 45 and above, it is unlikely that the manufacturers will be able to produce additional stock to meet the demands of all states. Sources said the manufacturers have sought month-wise re- quirement of vaccine doses for next four months along with the strategy of first four weeks of May from the State government. Though they have been requested to start supply from the first week itself, the manufacturers are learnt to have conveyed that the vaccines can be supplied only after May 15. However, as advised by the Centre, the Health department has begun preparing for online registration of beneficiaries from April 28 for the third phase of the inCONTINUED ON: P7 oculation drive.
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