Delta variant behind second wave; India sees 1.32 lakh cases, 2,713 deaths in 24 hrs
The health ministry said over 1.93 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses are still available with the states and UTs, even as the Delhi HC expressed anguish over vaccine shortage after the Centre said the best way to fight the pandemic is to inoculation
The Delta variant or B.1.617.2 and its lineage B.1.617.1 or Kappa of the 2019 SARS coronavirus were the primary cause behind the second wave of COVID-19 in India which pushed daily coronavirus cases in India to a record-breaking over 4 lakh a day and killed nearly half of India’s total fatalities so far, a study by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) study said.
The Delta variant, first identified in India, also emerged as the primary source of infection during a localised study of sequenced genomes of virus samples collected from Varanasi and neighbouring areas.
This as, India reported 1,32,364 new coronavirus infections taking the country’s total tally of COVID-19 cases to 2,85,74,350, and 2,713 fatalities in the last 24 hours pushed the total COVID-19 deaths to 3,40,702.
The recovery rate crossed 93 per cent, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated at 8 am. Active cases were recorded below 20 lakh for the fourth consecutive day.
The daily positivity was recorded at 6.38 per cent. It has been less than 10 per cent for 11 consecutive days, the ministry said, adding the weekly positivity rate has declined to 7.27 per cent. Recoveries continue to outnumber daily new cases for 22 consecutive days.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded Indian scientists for developing a made-in-India vaccine against COVID-19 and boosting other measures to fight the pandemic within a year of its outbreak.
NITI Aayog Member (Health) VK Paul meanwhile, said India has overtaken the US in terms of the number of people who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Paul cited figures from Ourworldindata.org, an open source data platform, as updated on Thursday, to state that the number of people who received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine is 17.2 crore, while the number for the US stands at 16.9 crore.
Vaccine shortage: Assam suspends first dose of COVAXIN; Delhi HC raps Centres
Despite the latest accomplishment in vaccination, shortages of jabs continued across India on Thursday. BJP-ruled Assam temporarily suspended the first doses of COVAXIN to divert jabs to those who have already received the first dose. In Tamil Nadu, people were turned away from vaccination centres due to a shortage of jabs.
Expressing anguish over vaccine shortage in India, the Delhi High Court directed the Centre to release arbitral award of over Rs 14 crore along with interest from 2012 to Panacea Biotec for manufacturing COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V vaccine in India subject to the condition that the company obtains permission from the government to manufacture the vaccine.
The court made the observations while deliberating on the issue related to the manufacturing of Sputnik V by Panacea Biotec in collaboration with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).
The health ministry, however, said on Thursday that over 1.93 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses are still available with the states and UTs.
Kerala announces Rs 20,000 crore relief package
As part of its Budget, the Kerala government announced a Rs 20,000 crore package to tide over the crisis induced by the second wave of the COVID-19 cases.
Kerala finance minister KN Balagopal said he also set aside Rs 1,000 crore to provide free vaccination for everyone aged above 18 years. An additional 500 crore would be spent to ensure related equipment and facilities for free vaccination, he said.
The Rajasthan government also issued orders to give financial assistance of Rs 1,000 each as the second instalment of ex-gratia to 33 lakh destitute, helpless and needy families facing livelihood crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total amount of Rs 330 crore has been released for the same on the instructions of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, they said.
BMC rejects nine vaccine supply bids
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has initiated a discussion with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL) for procurement of Sputnik V jabs and rejected all nine bids it received for supply of COVID-19 vaccines after the bidders failed to submit required documents.
The BMC had invited an expression of ìnterest for ten million doses in May, and it received eight offers for supplying Sputnik vaccine and one offer for Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine sold as Covishield in India.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said Friday that Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is safe for adolescents aged 12 to 15 after a “rigorous review”.
However, World Health Organisation’s top vaccine expert Dr Kate O’Brien said that vaccinating children is not a priority as they are not at risk of getting severely ill or dying from COVID-19 .
Karnataka to conduct Class 12 exams
Karnataka, which is still battling the second wave of COVID-19 cases, said that the state will hold CLass 10 examinations.
State Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar announced that the Class 10 examinations will be conducted in the third week of July, while there will be no exams for PUC second-year students in the state.
The decision to conduct Class 10 exams was taken as these students didn’t appear for Class 9 exams last year due to coronavirus , he said.
Meanwhile, the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) cancelled its Class 12 examination in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ announced.
” Students will be evaluated based on objective criteria to be announced soon. This will benefit around 1.75 lakhs students,” the minister said.
Delhi HC directs CBI probe into Jaipur Golden deaths
The Delhi High Court issued a notice on a plea which has sought Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)/Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe in the death of 21 patients due to shortage of oxygen at Jaipur Golden Hospital.
In a separate plea, the court directed the Delhi government to take immediate steps for ensuring the operation of non-functional hospitals and to improve Mohalla clinics in the National Capital to deal with the predicted third wave of COVID-19 .
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia informed the government has formed a four-member expert committee to look into the deaths due to the shortage of oxygen during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maharashtra caps black fungus treatment rates; visas of foreigner extended
The Maharashtra government capped the charges for treatment of mucormycosis patients at private hospitals in the state, where the official number of such cases has gone above 5,000.
The state government has identified 28 types of surgeries for mucormycosis or black fungus treatment. For surgeries, the minimum charges are fixed around Rs 6,000 in tier-three cities, and the amount can rise up to Rs one lakh, depending on the region and the complexity of the treatment, said the government notification, which will remain in force till 31 July.
Meanwhile, visas of foreign nationals, stranded in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have been extended by the government till 31 August on a gratis basis or free of charge.
The Union home ministry said that due to the non-availability of normal commercial flight operations on account of the pandemic since March last year, a number of foreign nationals who came to India prior to that date on valid Indian visas got stranded in the country.
With inputs from agencies
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