INDIAN STRAIN ACROSS THE WORLD Ireland Netherlands Germany South Korea Italy Greece U.K. Belgium Cambodia U.S. Singapore India Guadeloupe Portugal Switzerland TIRUCHY THURSDAY APRIL 29, 2021 `7.00 PAGES 14 LATE CITY EDITION INDIAN COVID VARIANT FOUND IN AT LEAST 17 COUNTRIES: W.H.O. The UN healthy agency said on Tuesday that the variant contributing to a surge in coronavirus cases in India has been found in over a dozen countries Bahrain Australia New Zealand STRAIN DETECTED IN U.K., U.S. & SINGAPORE The World Health Organization said the B.1.617 variant of Covid-19, first found in India, had as of Tuesday been detected in over 1,200 sequences uploaded to the GISAID open-access database “from at least 17 countries”. “Most sequences were uploaded from India, UK, US and Singapore,” the WHO said in its weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic ■ B.1.617 SPREADS FASTER THAN OTHER VARIANTS ■ The WHO said its preliminary modelling based on sequences submitted to GISAID indicates that B.1.617 has a higher growth rate than other circulating variants in India “Studies have highlighted that the spread of the second wave has been much faster than the first,” the WHO added VARIANT HAS 13 GENETIC MUTATIONS THAT RESULT IN CHANGES TO THE VIRUS 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 Mass registrations crash CoWIN Many complained they did not get OTPs to complete the process on the CoWIN portal; Govt termed it a minor glitch and claimed 80 lakh people enrolled themselves within three hours EXPRESS READ Girija Vaidyanathan gives up NGT post? Chennai: Former Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan has refused the post of expert member in the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), said sources. Following this, the NGT appointed former TN IAS officer K Satyagopal to the post. An order has been issued by the NGT Chairman in this regard on Tuesday. ENS 3,60,960 3,52,991 3,23,144 3,49,691 3,46,786 3,32,730 3,14,835 2,95,041 2,73,810 2,59,170 2,61,500 2,34,692 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 2,812 2,767 22 2,624 2,104 21 2,263 2,023 1,761 20 Deaths 23 24 25 26 3,293 1,619 2 Cases 2,771 1,501 0 2,17,353 1,341 50000 2,00,739 1,185 100000 1,84,372 1,038 1 200000 150000 DATE-WISE TOLL AND CASES IN APRIL 1,027 250000 1,61,736 300000 1,68,912 Kanjikuzhi panchayat (Alappuzha) is undertaking a novel initiative to protect pets and livestock of Covidinfected families — a day care centre for cows, goats, dogs and other animals | P11 350000 1,52,879 OUR IPL SPACE Covid Deaths in April: 38,719 Total deaths: 2,01,187 --------------Covid cases in April: 58,47,932 Total cases 1,79,97,267 400000 CONTINUED ON: P7 879 Election Commission issued guidelines to be followed on May 2 | P4 FAUCI ON COVAXIN Covaxin has been found to neutralise the B.1.617 variant, which is the Indian double mutant strain, White House Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday 904 Guidelines for counting day @narendramodi 1,45,384 Amid rising cases, Puducherry extends lockdown restrictions till May 3 | P4 1 lakh portable oxygen concentrators will be procured, 500 more PSA oxygen plants sanctioned from PM-CARES. This will improve access to oxygen, specially in district HQs and Tier-2 cities. firewood and so on? I think that is hardly likely .” Public health researcher Oommen John, too, said that the number of reported deaths does not reflect the actual number of people who are in prolonged hypoxia (acute breathlessness), which is incompatible to survival. “This is a mystery and would warrant close attention.” What is alarming is the rapid increase in cases despite local restrictions. India, for instance, was reporting less than 75,000 daily cases in the beginning of the month but reached the 1 lakh mark, higher than the peak in September last within a week, which rose to over 2 lakh cases within another week. 839 Hyundai Motor said it will roll out a `20-crore package to set up oxygen plants and provide other assistance to Maharashtra, Delhi, Haryana, Telangana and Tamil Nadu | P4 Lockdown in UT extended Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday said the vaccination drive for the 18+ age group cannot be launched from May 1 due to unavailability of enough doses | P7 CLOSE to 20% of all official deaths reported in India due to Covid-19, occurred over the last four weeks. Within the same time span, fresh Covid cases shot up a gargantuan 58,47,932. It works out to over 32% of the 1.80 crore reported in the country thus far. The official tally of 38,719 Covid deaths in April so far — out of 2,01,187 total fatalities due to the contagious disease in the country — may, however, be because of gross undercounting as is evident from the civic death records and grisly visuals from overwh e l m e d c re m at o r i u m s across cities and towns. Experts concur. They point 1,31,968 Hyundai to set up O2 plant Teachers working in government and government-aided schools need not go to schools starting May 1 | P4 MAHA PUTS OFF MAY 1 DRIVE @ New Delhi 794 16,665 15,114 98 The Delhi High Court on Wednesday objected to a change by the Centre in the Covid treatment protocol related to Remdesivir use amid a shortage of the drug, saying “it appears you want people to die”. out that while an average of 28,000 deaths are reported in India every day, crematoriums in cities would not be overflowing if the Covid fatality is just 2,000-3,000 a day , as is being counted officially as of now. Epidemiologist Jammi N Rao pointed out that the official toll on April 25 was about 2,850. “So assuming all other deaths were constant, the net addition due to Covid amounted to an extra 10% of the baseline,” he said. “Would that excess have resulted in the scale and magnitude of the chaotic scenes we witnessed with cremation grounds working round the clock, queues of bodies waiting for hours and hours to be cremated, the shortage of S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA 1,26,789 15,830 14,043 77 TOTAL DOSES: 14,98,77,121 DELHI HC FAULTS ADVISORY ON REMDESIVIR 780 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths APRIL 28 20,49,754 doses 20% OF INDIA’S COVID-19 DEATHS IN APRIL ALONE 1,15,736 Work from home for teachers APRIL 27 April 28 685 STATEWIDE 24,55,869 doses 630 THE State on Wednesday issued orders to procure 1.5 crore doses of vaccines through Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation (TNMSC). The move comes on a day the State reported a whopping 16,665 fresh cases and 98 deaths, taking the tally to 11,30,167 and the toll to 13,826. According to an official release, Tamil Nadu is preparing for a vaccination drive for those above 18 years of age from May 1 as per instructions by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami. The procurement order marks the first phase of the drive. Till Tuesday, 55.15 lakh people had been vaccinated. The State had earlier announced that it will provide free vaccines at all government institutions and that people have to pay for the same at private facilities. A total of 1,25,004 people were tested on the day, pushing test positivity rate to 13 per cent. About 43 per cent of the day’s cases were reported from Chennai and surrounding districts. Chennai reported 4,764 cases, while Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur reported 1,219, 443 and 751 cases, respectively The State currently has . 1,10,308 active cases. @ Chennai/Salem/Tirunelveli TAKE YOUR SHOT April 27 96,982 @ Chennai WITH the demand for Remdesivir soaring, and queues outside counters getting longer, TS Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health, in a video message on Wednesday clarified that the drug is not a life-saving one and is not recommended as mandatory by the WHO. “Unnecessary panic buying is a cause for concern. Not all patients need Remdesivir, and it does not increase one’s survival chances; it can only reduce the duration of hospital stay for symptomatic patients,” he added. Noting that all government hospitals h av e s u f f i c i e n t stock, purchased through TNMSC, he said private hospitals should not make people run pillar to post. Meanwhile, relatives of a Covid patient, admitted to Tirunelveli Medical College Hospital, alleged that the nurses had written Remdesivir in the case sheet for three days without administering it. Speaking to media, one Saravanan, said: “As soon as I raised the issue, the nurses struck out Remdesivir from the list. When I checked other patients’ case sheets, I realised that the staff had done the same. I suspect malpractice,” he added. Express contacted a hospital authority who refuted the allegations and said the staff might have written Remdesivir “by misP4 take”. EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE JAB-O-METER ment is mandatory for this age group as walk-in shots are erstricted to those above 45. Meanwhile, Serum Institute’s entire 6-7 crore/month Covishield production could be available in India as there is no clarity on export. However, but it is not clear how many jabs will go to the Centre how many will states get. 446 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE Remdesivir: Higher demand, longer wait Meanwhile, the govt announced ‘Y’ category security cover to him across the country citing potential threats to him 1,03,558 State issues orders for 1.5 cr doses of vaccine CEO Adar Poonawalla called it a philanthropic gesture 93,249 FIGHTING VIRUS advises the state government. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said harsh measures such as complete lockdown could be imposed if other restrictions fail to check the spread. According to Indian Medical Association state secretary Dr Gopikumar P, the preparations in the state had been for a worst-case scenario of 3.5 lakh patients at a time. The doubling time has now reduced to a week. It means the present 2.66 lakh active cases could be double by next week. 478 KERALA now has the dubious record of the highest growth rate of active Covid cases (11.11%) in the country forcing , the government to rework its strategies to handle eight lakh patients in the next two weeks. On Wednesday, one in four persons tested was found infected, but in some areas every second person became positive. By the current rate, the daily patient count is expected to be between 40,000 and 50,000 by mid-May and the number of pa- tients requiring hospital care will go up to eight lakh. Health experts also warn that the death toll could rise if caseload keeps stretching the health infrastructure. The state reported 35,013 fresh cases on Wednesday, taking the active cases to a high of 2.67 lakh. “The speed with which the patient number is growing has exceeded all predictions. If not controlled, even a daily count of 50,000 will not be a surprise,” said a member Covid-19 core committee, which 89,129 @ Thiruvananthapuram Amid outrage on price gouging, Serum Institute of India trimmed the cost of Covishield for state govts from `400 to `300 per dose 513 UNNIKRISHNAN S COVISHIELD COST FOR STATES CUT TO `300 81,466 1 in 4 tests Covid positive in Kerala THE first batch of Covid vaccine from Russia, Sputnik V is set to , arrive in India on May 1. “According to Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the first batch of Sputnik V will be delivered to India on May 1, 2021,” said the Russian embassy in response to a query by this newspaper. It, however, did not specify how many doses will be sent to India. There are only three vaccines with over 90% efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 infection and Sputnik V is one of them. The other two are vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna. Sputnik was developed by the Gamaleya National Research In- NATIONWIDE APRIL 27 APRIL 28 stitute of Epidemiology and 3,23,144 3,60,960 Microbiology with funding from Fresh cases RDIF. The two-dose vaccine has Recoveries 2,51,827 2,61,162 to be administered 21 days apart Deaths 2,771 3,293 and costs around $10 (`750) per dose in the international market. Sources said RDIF is in talks with India authorities on the pricing in the country . The Centre has hinted that all foreign vaccines, including Sputnik, will be available only in private hospitals. Though no official response could be elicited from Dr Reddy’s on the development, its management has earlier said that the initial quantity of Sputnik V that will be supplied in India is set to be limited as they will be imported from Russia. RDIF’s manufacturing partners in India – at least four other companies apart from Dr Reddy’s – will start producing the vaccines locally by July this year, after which the supplies are likely to be scaled up. The news on Sputnik V comes amid concerns that vaccination has not picked up the required pace to arrest the spread of the infectious disease. 714 An ambulance of a private hospital parked outside the Arun Jaitley stadium in New Delhi, while another one has been stationed inside, during the first IPL match in the city on Wednesday. Should precious healthcare resources of Delhi that is at its wits’ end trying to manage the pandemic, be spared on a day when over 24,000 fresh cases were reported in the city? | PARVEEN NEGI S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi 72,330 SKEWED STADIUM PRIORITY THE CoWIN portal, which facilitates registration and scheduling for Covid vaccine, crashed on Wednesday soon after it opened for those in the 18-44 age group at 4 pm. Complaints of non-reciept of one-time password (OTP) to proceed with the process poured in. Many irate users took to social media to flag the technical problems they faced while trying to register for the third phase of the inoculation drive kicking off from Saturday . Many complained they could not schedule their vaccination as no slots were available for the next few weeks in their area. To this, the Centre responded saying appointments can be booked only after states and private hospitals fix their vaccination schedule. The Union health ministry sought to reject reports of the portal crashing as baseless and claimed that 80 lakh registrations were done within three hours of opening up. “It is recording 55,000 hits per second and is completely stable,” the government maintained. “CoWIN Portal is working. There was a minor glitch at 4 pm that was fixed. 18 plus can register,” read a tweet from 1st batch of Sputnik V will reach India on Saturday Aarogya Setu, the Union government’s app for Covid contact tracing. The app also has a link to the Cowin por tal through which one can register and schedule vaccination. While all adults will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccine from May 1, people in the 18-44 age group can take the shot only at centres run by state governments or private hospitals. Registration and online appoint- 469 @ New Delhi 459 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE 27 28 A P R I L RELIEF FROM SCORCHING SUMMER & COVID Coimbatore couple pledges jewellery, donates 100 fans to Covid ward EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Coimbatore HUMANITY is all that counts in these times of darkness and uncertainty While most people . are actively arranging oxygen cylinders and Remdesivir drug for needy patients through social media, one couple from Coimbatore is providing relief to infectees at the ESI hospital here. It was a sultry Tuesday afternoon when Radha* and Chandran* visited the hospital and Though the couple requested to avoid publicity, Express decided to carry the photograph released by the dean as they were anyway wearing masks offered to donate 100 pedestal fans to the Covid ward. The hospital administration was elated at not just their generosity, but their way of offering, for the couple had pledged their or naments to make this donation. M Raveendran, the dean of the hospital, told Express, “We were initially reluctant to accept the offer. But they just wouldn’t leave the premises without making the donation.” The couple had in fact, pledged gold ornaments worth `2.20 lakh to buy the fans. Since Radha and Chandran were so certain about their decision, Raveendran contacted District Collector S Nagarajan, and got a go-ahead to accept the offer. “The good samaritans also requested us to avoid publicising their contribution as they called it a favour they did for Covid patients,” said the dean. The fans donated by the couple are kept on the third floor where Covid patients are being treated. The dean said they had recently purchased about 300 fans to be equipped in Covid wards as they are not supposed to turn on air-conditioning. “We have also requested philanthropists to come forward and do- nate fans,” he added. When Express contacted the couple, they said the contribution was made for patients’ welfare and refused to comment further. However, the ESI hospital on Tuesday night, came out with a letter stating that a city-based couple had sponsored 100 pedestal fans by pledging jewellery . The couple did not have cash in hand and that is why they pledged the ornaments, the statement said. (*Names changed)
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