NEW DELHI 16 MAY 2021 SUNDAY `12 PAGES 24 facebook/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard The Coming Wave ...and how to brace for it https://epaper.morningstandard.in PLUS: 12 PAGES MAGAZINE Facing It with Stones Sugarless Sweetheart EXCLUSIVE VOICES Prabhu chawla T J S George Shankkar Aiyar Shinie Antony The Farm Connector Timeless Tales that Sparkle and Shine Sheila Kumar Anuja Chandramouli S Vaidhyasubramaniam Madhulika Liddle The Teller of Lost Stories AMMA SPEAKS Keeping His Word Advaita Needs to be Practiced Stop rural spread Signs of subsiding in second wave mayhem & audit ventilators, E PRESS MAPS X PM tells officials INDIA SNAPSHOT Health ministry says overall positivity rate has fallen by 2% in a week, regions including Delhi showing improvement STATE-WISE ACTIVE CASES EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi ALARMED with the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in rural India, PM Narendra Modi asked officials in a high level meeting on Saturday to empower ASHA and Anganwadi workers with necessary tools, besides calling for distribution plan of oxygen supply in villages be worked out. He also took note of reports of ventilators procured from the PM-Cares Fund lying unutilised and sought their audit. The PM also stated that the states should focus on testing and report cases without the pressure of high caseload being seen as their failure. The instruction for audit of unutilised ventillators came amid reports from various parts of the country, imcluding Punjab and Bihar, where ventilators procured from the PM-Cares Fund were either lying unused or defective. “The Prime Minister took serious note of some reports about ventilators lying unutilised in storage in some states and directed that an immediate audit of installation and operation of ventilators provided by the Central government should be carried out. The Prime Minister added that refresher training for properly operating ventilators should be provided to healthcare workers if necessary,” said the Prime Minister’s Office in a media statement. The high level meeting was attended by the secretaries of Health Ministry, Road and Transport and Home Affairs, besides the principal secretary to the PMO and the Cabinet Secretary . “The PM was briefed that testing has gone up rapidly, from around 50 lakh tests per week in early March to around 1.3 crore per week,” added the PMO in the statement. The PM asked officials to coordinate with states to ramp up the vaccination drive. P7 KARNATAKA As per the figures shared by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Saturday, there are 11 states with over one lakh active cases, while 17 have less than 50,000... J&K 52K Himachal Pradesh 42K Punjab 79K Rajasthan 213K Gujarat 117K Madhya Pradesh 104K Daman & Diu Dadra & Nagar Haveli 1K Karnataka 599K Lakshadweep 1K Kerala 443K Arunachal Pradesh 2K Nagaland 4K Manipur 6K TAMIL NADU 1,95,339 UTTAR PRADESH 1,93,815 1,31,792 Odisha 95K Tamil Nadu 195K 2,12,753 WEST BENGAL Chhattisgarh 116K Puducherry 17K RAJASTHAN 2,03,787 West Bengal Tripura 4K 132K Andhra Pradesh 204K 4,42,550 ANDHRA PRADESH Mizoram 2K Maharashtra 522K Goa 32K KERALA Meghalaya+ Assam 43K Uttarakhand 79K Jharkhand 45K Delhi Sikkim Bihar 72K 3K 90K Uttar Pradesh 194K Haryana 72K MAHARASHTRA 5,21,683 Ladakh 2K Chandigarh 8K 5,98,625 GUJARAT Telangana 55K Active Cases less than 50,000 Active Cases between 50,000 and 1 lakh Active Cases more than 1 lakh 1,17,373 CHHATTISGARH 1,15,964 MADHYA PRADESH 1,04,444 E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ New Delhi THE Union government on Saturday said that the Covid-19 second wave in India has started showing signs of stabilisation and the overall test positivity rate is 19.8%, down from 21.9% last week. There are 11 states with over one lakh active cases and 17 have less than 50,000, as per the figures shared by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. “Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh have reported a decline in active cases. The cause of concern is Tamil Nadu where a rise in the number of active cases has been reported in the last one week,” said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the ministry . V K Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog and chairman of the national Covid-19 task force, said that the overall situation in the country is showing signs of improvement and the government will work towards ensuring further stabilisation. “It is evident that we can see a certain amount of stabilisation of the second wave of the pandemic. Some states have shown a clear pattern, in some states there are concerns and, in some others, there is a trend towards an increase,” said Paul. NO ROLE FOR CABINET Oxygen concentrator banks in all 11 dists IN PANDEMIC CONTROL, for patients in home isolation: Kejriwal PMO CALLS THE SHOTS M A N I S H A N A N D @ New Delhi THE union cabinet has met at least five times since the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic began in late March or early April, but not a single decision was related to the ongoing surge, at least that is what can be concluded from the information the government has made available. All that the cabinet has done since April 1 is take insignificant decisions on metro projects, MoUs with other nations and productivity linked schemes. For instance on April 20, when the second wave was about to peak and Covid patients were scurrying for non-existent vacant hospital beds, oxygen and critically-needed drugs, all that the cabinet did was clear the second phase of Bengaluru’s metro project and okayed MoUs with New Zealand, Australia, Bangladesh and Brazil. In the last meeting on May 12, the cabinet, among other things, decided to transfer ITBP land to the Uttarakhand government for its DehradunMussoorie ropeway project. The absence of any role of the union cabinet in the massive health crisis facing the country is in sharp contrast to almost all critical decisions being driven by the Prime Minister’s Office to control the pandemic. After the PM canceled public rallies for the later phases of the West Bengal elections, he reached out to a number of chief ministers either on phone or virtually to take stock of the pandemic. He also held a video conference with 10 of them on April 23. Besides, the PM has been holding scores of virtual meetings with stakeholders to deal with specific issues concerning oxygen, medicines, vaccines, Covid hospitals, which are attended by the officials and experts. The non-involvement of the union cabinet in the Centre’s response to the pandemic has raised eyebrows and sugges- tions that the cabinet system of governance that India has adopted is being weakened. “Every minister is allocated a portfolio and he or she is responsible for the assigned task. If the Prime Minister thinks that other ministers need to be involved in certain matters then a Cabinet meeting can be called,” said Yogendra Narain, a retired IAS officer and a former secretary general of the Rajya Sabha. Narain said it was up to the Prime Minister, who if he feels, may ask a minister to help the health minister in dealing with a specific task such as transport of oxygen. A former top ranking bureaucrat said the Cabinet Secretary should have taken the PM into confidence and alert- CABINET MEETINGS April 7 Production-linked incentive scheme for white goods, solar PV modules, MoU between Indian & Japan for academic research April 20 E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ New Delhi THE Delhi government has set up Oxygen Concentrator Banks in all 11 districts to ensure that Covid patients in home quarantine get the medical equipment free of cost within two hours of calls. Patients may call 1031 and register their request to procure an oxygen concentrator. Subsequently, doctors will analyse the medical condition of each case to decide allocation of the life-saving machine. After review of the requests by doctors, the oxygen concentrators will be delivered with the help of the OLA Foundation and Give India to homes of patients. “If Covid infected persons are provided oxygen immediately, their health can be prevented from further deterioration. If they do not get oxygen on time, things may worsen. Therefore, it is imperative that Covid patients get oxygen timely For such patients, we have . created the Oxygen Concentrator Bank (OCB) in all districts,” Chief Minister A r v i n d Ke j r i w a l a n nounced at a digital briefing on Saturday . Each district will have a reserve of 200 oxygen concentrators. Once allotted, a team, including a technician, will visit the patients and explain to the family members handling and functioning of the device. “Our doctors will stay in touch with all those who are being given oxygen concentrators. If the need arises to send them to a hospital, it will be taken care of and when they recover, the oxygen concentrators will be taken back. They will be sanitised before being given to another patient for use,” Kejriwal said. “In the last 24 hours, Delhi has reported 6,500 cases, and the positivity rate has further gone down to 11 per cent. On Friday, we had 8,500 cases. In the last 24 hours, the infection rate has declined to 11 per cent from 12 per cent on Friday The surge is reduc. ing in Delhi slowly and steadily, and I hope it diminishes completely. However, we cannot be negligent in anyway he added. ,” Amendment to Finance Bill 2020, 2nd phase of Benagluru Metro project, MoUs with Bangladesh, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil on various matters April 28 MoU with UK & Ireland over custom clearances May 5 ed him of an impending second wave, which could have been on the basis of warnings by international agencies or on the ground assessment in the states. “It’s to be seen whether the Cabinet Secretary alerted the PM on time of an impending challenge with a request to call the meeting of the cabinet. If he didn’t, he failed in his duty .” Rashid Alvi, a former member of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, lamented that the government in this dispensation “means” only the PM. “Cabinet meeting can be called only if the PM wishes, but the reasons behind second wave is Assembly elections and UP gram panchayat polls, besides Kumbh Mela in Hardwar,” said Alvi. Additional foodgrain for 2 months for 80 crore people under National Food Security Act, MoU with UK & Ireland on migration and mobility partnership, MoU with UK on global innovation partnership May 12 Production-linked incentive scheme for advanced chemistry cell battery storage, transfer of ITBP land to Uttarakhand govt for ropeway project, MoU with Qatar OARING TOWARDS SAFETY Fishermen move towards the shore due to the formation of Cyclone Tauktae in the Arabian Sea, in Mumbai, on Saturday | PTI “It is a mixed picture. Overall, the situation is stabilising we hope and we will work towards ensuring further stabilisation and rapid decline of this pandemic,” Paul said at the ministry briefing. The details shared showed that 10 states account for 85% of the total coronavirus cases in the country and 24 states have a Covid-19 positivity rate of more than 15%. Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Daman and Diu, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have reported a major drop in case positivity rates. On Saturday, India registered a total of 3,26,098 Covid-19 cases that took the overall tally to 2,43,72,907 but active cases came down by 31,091, as compared to Friday This is the . fifth day in a row that active infections have come down, after reaching the four-million mark. The active cases now stand at 36,73,802 and comprise 15.07% of the total infections, while the national Covid-19 recovery rate has improved to 83.83%. On a positive note, the number of districts with over 10% test positivity rate, which was 533 a week back, has come down to 516. Madhya Pradesh with 42 such districts, has the highest number of districts with runaway infections, followed by Tamil Nadu (37). BJP MP’s home vaccination raises eyebrows, officer asked to probe E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ Bhopal A BJP MP from the party-ruled Madhya Pradesh is being investigated for reportedly arranging vaccination for his relatives, staff and others in his office. The Ujjain district administration is looking into how the local BJP MP Anil Firojiya’s kin, staff and supporters were inoculated by the health department at the first-time MP’s house-cum-office in the district’s Sethi Nagar locality on Thursday . “An officer has been asked to collect facts about the incident and submit a report soon,” said Ujjain district chief medical and health officer (CMHO) Dr Mahavir Khandelwal on Saturday . The matter came to light when Kapil Katariya, a supporter of the BJP MP posted on social me, dia a picture of himself getting the jab at the house-cum-office of the ruling party MP . Opposition Congress MLA from Tarana of Ujjain, Mahesh Parmar (who had defeated Firojiya from the seat in 2018 assembly polls) took up the issue. “On the one hand, PM Modi tweeted his picture of receiving the jab at a hospital, on the other, Ujjain’s BJP MP doesn’t believe in following his PM’s path. He believes in VVIP vaccination for his kin and supporters,” said Parmar. Sources said health department staff was seen not once, but twice in a day at the MP’s house to administer the jabs. More than 10 persons took the jabs. Uranium in 83% of water samples, says BARC study E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ New Delhi URANIUM was detected in 83.6 per cent of all the collected water samples during a nationwide survey by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) for mapping of uranium content in drinking water sources across India. About 55,554 surface and groundwater samples were collected for the survey “Out of 12 water qual. ity parameters measured to understand the geochemical proc- esses governing uranium content in water sources, eight were found to exceed the acceptable limits set by the BIS for drinking water,” said the study published in Current Science. Sulphate, chloride, nitrate, fluoride, total dissolved solids, alkalinity and hardness exceeded their limits by 4.2 per cent, 12.9 per cent, 14 per cent, 20.5 per cent, 34.3 per cent, 45 per cent and 51.6 per cent, respectively . Uranium content in 98 per cent of groundwater samples was with- in the national limit fixed by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board for radiological safety “Dissolved . uranium content in groundwater samples showed an upward trend with total dissolved solids and depth of water sources. No surface water samples exceeded the prescribed regulatory limit.” The study further found that about 36 per cent, 30 per cent, 26.5 per cent, 6.2 per cent and 5.2 per cent of surface water samples exceeded the BIS recommended ac- ceptable limits for hardness, alkalinity TDS, fluoride and nitrate. , In contrast, 51.6 per cent, 45 per cent, 36.3 per cent, 20.5 per cent and 14 per cent of groundwater samples exceeded the BIS recommended acceptable limits for the same parameters. “About 2 per cent of groundwater samples exceeded the AERB prescribed limits for uranium with respect to radiological safety , while no surface water samples exceeded the limit,” it added.
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