Centre enlists IAF, Railways as oxygen crisis worsens; 3.33 lakh cases, 2,263 deaths in 24 hrs-Health News , Technomiz”
In Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur, five coronavirus patients admitted to the ICU of a private hospital died allegedly after its oxygen supply ran out, prompting the authorities to order a probe
Amid a deepening crisis due to the shortage of medical oxygen across India, 25 COVID-19 patients died in Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in a span of 24 hours reportedly due to the lack of oxygen on Friday. The situation was grim on the numbers’ front too, with over 3 lakh (3,32,730) new cases being recorded for the second consecutive day, and 2,263 people dying in 24 hours.
Meanwhile, two more hospitals in the National Capital moved Delhi High Court on Friday seeking an urgent supply of oxygen. In another tragedy in Maharashtra’s Virar, 13 COVID-19 patients died in a fire that broke out in a hospital’s ICU at 3 am on Friday.
In Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur too, five coronavirus patients admitted to the ICU of a private hospital died allegedly after its oxygen supply ran out, prompting the authorities to order a probe. The deaths occurred on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday at Galaxy Hospital, PTI reported.
India is struggling with the second wave of coronavirus infection and hospitals in several states are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen, beds and other COVID-19 essentials in view of a rising number of cases.
In view of the crisis, the Centre enlisted the Indian Air Force and the Railways to hasten the transport of oxygen to various states like Delhi, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh.
In addition to oxygen tankers and containers, the IAF also airlifted doctors and nursing staff from Kochi, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam and Bengaluru for various hospitals in Delhi on Friday. Personnel also transported essential medicines as well as equipment required by the designated COVID-19 hospitals in various parts of the country.
The Union Defence Ministry, meanwhile, decided to airlift 23 mobile oxygen generation plants from Germany.
PTI quoted officials as saying that each plant will have a capacity to produce 40 litres of oxygen per minute and 2,400 litres per hour. In addition, the ministry said it will give an extension to 238 short service commissioned doctors in the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) till 31 December to tide over the current situation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who chaired review meetings on the availability of oxygen, called for utilising the industry’s full potential to meet the demand for medical oxygen.
Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah are facing criticism from health experts and Opposition parties for continuing to campaign for the West Bengal Assembly polls while the COVID-19 cases were on a rise again.
Discussed the COVID-19 situation with Chief Ministers of the states seeing a surge in infections. We discussed the steps being taken to strengthen the fight against the pandemic. https://t.co/vE3UAHXmMr
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 23, 2021
As hospitals in cities including the National Capital continued to tweet SOS messages for the Centre to replenish their stock of oxygen and COVID-19 drug remdesivir.
Dr Arvinder Singh Soin, a surgeon with the Medanta Hospital, the Reliance Foundation Hospital, and the Moolchand Healthcare Hospital, criticised the “oxygen politics” playing out while there was a shortage of the crucial resource.
Sorry but we weren’t trained for Oxygen politics in medical school. Only how to save lives.
— Dr. Arvinder Singh Soin (@ArvinderSoin) April 23, 2021
States like Andhra Pradesh and Uttarakhand became the latest to announce free vaccine doses for everyone above the age of 18 from 1 May, when the Centre’s new vaccination policy will be implemented.
Additionally, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh announced weekend restrictions and night curfew curbs to curb the rising number of cases.
The Maharashtra Police reintroduced the e-pass system for inter-state and inter-district travel in “extreme emergency” situations. Fresh restrictions on travel, attendance in offices and weddings came into force on Thursday night. The state, which is facing an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases, was already under several restrictions since 14 April.
In terms of COVID-19 statistics, Maharashtra reported 773 deaths, the highest so far, on Friday. The new cases were 66,836, the health department said.
The trend of the highest single-day spike in new cases continued for the second consecutive day in West Bengal, with 12,876 cases taking the tally to 7,13,780.
World leaders, including French president Emmanuel Macron and European Council president Charles Michel, also reached out to India and offered their support in dealing with the pandemic.
Macron said, “France is with you in this struggle, which spares no one. We stand ready to provide our support.”
❝I want to send a message of solidarity to the Indian people, facing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. France is with you in this struggle, which spares no-one. We stand ready to provide our support.❞
— President Emmanuel Macron
— Emmanuel Lenain (@FranceinIndia) April 23, 2021
Michel stated that India and the EU will discuss possible cooperation in fighting the pandemic at a virtual summit between the two sides on 8 May.
The fight against the virus is a common fight.
— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) April 23, 2021
IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath also weighed in on the COVID-19 situation in India and said, “Deeply disturbed by the exploding health crisis in India. So many of my family, friends and colleagues grappling with this second wave. Mass gatherings are toxic. Social distance, wear masks, ramp up medical supplies and vaccinations on a war footing. Please stay safe.”
‘Big tragedy likely’: Arvind Kejriwal apprises PM on oxygen situation in Delhi
At the meeting with Modi, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Centre should take over all oxygen plants through the Army as he apprehended that a “big tragedy” may happen due to oxygen shortage in hospitals during the second wave of the pandemic.
The Delhi government also requested the Indian Railways to operate ‘Oxygen Express’ trains to save COVID-19 patients gasping for breath in the city’s hospitals, Railway Board Chairman Suneet Sharma said.
The Delhi government is the latest to have lined up for ‘Oxygen Express’ services, after Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, PTI reported.
Each tanker of ‘Oxygen Express’ trains can carry around 16 tonnes of medical oxygen, he said, adding these trains travel at a speed of around 65 kmph.
To boost oxygen supply, the Centre also decided to immediately install DRDO-Tata Sons oxygen generation plants at various state-run hospitals like AIIMS, NIC Jhajjar, Safdarjung, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital among others. These will have the capacity to generate 1,000 litres of oxygen per minute.
After the tragic news of the death of 25 patients was announced on Friday morning, SGRH chairman Dr DS Rana said it is wrong to say the deaths occurred due to oxygen shortage, though PTI quoted sources as saying that “low pressure oxygen” could be the likely cause of the fatalities.
More than 500 coronavirus patients, including around 150 on high flow oxygen support, are admitted at the hospital.
Centre plans to import tankers from Singapore, UAE; MHA asks states to revive closed plants
In separate letters, the Centre asked all states to prepare a list of oxygen producers in their respective jurisdiction and directed them to ensure uninterrupted supply and transport of oxygen in the places where there is a demand.
With a view to make available additional tankers for the movement of oxygen, the home ministry is coordinating the lifting of high-capacity tankers from abroad, including Singapore and the UAE, by Indian Air Force transport planes, the home minister said in a statement.
A home ministry expert group is also optimising and rationalising the allocation of oxygen to various states and union territories keeping in view the active cases and to reduce the time taken for the movement of medical oxygen, it added.
The statement also said that Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla asked all states and union territories to ensure adequate security to oxygen-transporting vehicles and to make provisions for exclusive corridors for transportation, treating these vehicles like ambulances.
Karnataka asks Centre for additional stock of oxygen, remdesivir
Karnataka became the latest state to appeal to the Centre to supply additional vials of remdesivir and replenish the stock of oxygen in the state. In the vritual meeting on Friday, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa asked Modi for 1,471 tonnes of oxygen and two lakh doses of remdesivir.
“The state needs 1,142 tonnes of oxygen from 25 April and 1,471 tonnes of oxygen after 30 April. The chief minister appealed to the Prime Minister to rectify the shortage of oxygen and immediately allocate 1,471 tonnes of oxygen,” the Chief Minister’s Office said in a statement.
“The Centre had supplied only 300 tonnes of oxygen. If this situation persists, many healthcare centres may have to be shutdown,” Yediyurappa said.
Yediyurappa said the infection count was going up in an alarming proportion in Bengaluru, Tumakuru, Ballari, Mysuru, Hassan and Kalaburagi due to which the demand for Remdesivir injection has also risen.
Maharashtra to receive Covishield doses only after 24 May, says govt quoting SII
Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said that there has been no firm response from the Centre to the demand for uniform pricing of coronavirus vaccines. He also said that the Serum Institute of India has informed that it can provide Covishield vaccine to the state only after 24 May as the Centre has booked all the production till that date.
Tope was speaking to reporters after participating in a virtual meeting held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the states worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
“All the major states have demanded ‘one nation-one rate’ for the vaccine, but received no firm response from the Centre,” he said.
“We have examples of Israel or the UK where vaccination was carried out at a large scale. If the rates are reduced, we could buy more vaccines. If the demand is not met, the state will take responsibility for people under the poverty line only while others, as well as corporates, will have to take the vaccine on their own,” said the health minister.
Modi raps Kejriwal for telecasting comments during COVID-19 meeting
Kejriwal’s decision to telecast his comments live during the interaction with Modi regarding the pandemic situation in Delhi drew disapproval from the prime minister, who chided him for “breaking protocol”, and later the Union government officials accused the AAP leader of “playing politics”.
As Kejriwal spoke about the acute oxygen crisis in hospitals in Delhi and called for a national plan to deal with the pandemic during Modi’s interaction with chief ministers of 11 states and Union Territories, PMO officials were quoted by PTI as saying that they were “surprised” to find that the Delhi leader had provided a live feed of his comments to news channels.
Modi also expressed his displeasure during the interaction over the issue, saying “this is strictly against our tradition, our protocol… that some chief minister is showing a live telecast of an in-house meeting”.
“This is not appropriate. One should always maintain restraint,” Modi said, prompting Kejriwal to say that he will keep this in mind in future. Kejriwal then offered an apology in case he had made a “mistake or spoken harshly”.
COVID-19 caseload details
Meanwhile, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated this morning, India recorded a single-day rise of 3,32,730 new cases, taking the tally to 1,62,63,695, while active cases crossed the 24-lakh mark. The death toll increased to 1,86,920 with a record 2,263 new fatalities.
Registering a steady increase, the active cases increased to 24,28,616, comprising 14.93 percent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has further dropped to 83.92 percent.
The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,36,48,159, while the case fatality rate has further dropped to 1.15 percent, the data stated.
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