DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE TUESDAY, APRIL 20, 2021, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 16 PAGES `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 DECISION AFTER PM MEETING From May 1, vaccine for all above 18 years, 50% supplies to states andopen market Key virus strain found in October but its gene study stalled; a new variety appears Triple-mutant is flagged in Delhi, Maharashtra, Bengal, Chhattisgarh STORM AFTER THE CALM TACKLING THE SECOND COVID WAVE AN EXPRESS SERIES PART TWO AMITABH SINHA & KAUNAIN SHERIFF M GAYA, NEW DELHI, APRIL 19 Migrant labourers at Anand Vihar bus terminus in Delhi, following the announcement of a lockdown in the Capital. Praveen Khanna KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, APRIL 19 THE GOVERNMENT on Monday announced that every person above the age of 18 years will be eligible to be vaccinated against Covid-19 from May 1. The announcement, one of four significant shifts in the government’s vaccination policy, came at the end of a meeting chaired by Prime Minister NarendraModiagainstthebackdropof arelentlesssurgeincoronavirus cases. States have been given the authority to take a call to open vaccination to any category of people above the age of 18 — a shift from the current policy in which the central government decides on age-specific priority groups for vaccination. The decision came a day after former Prime Minister ManmohanSinghwrotetoModi onMonday,recommendingthat states be allowed greater flexibility in vaccine administration, to define categories of frontline workers for vaccination even if they were younger than 45 years, the current cut-off age. Second,stateshavebeenempowered to procure additional vaccine doses directly from manufactures. So far, the Centre has procured all supplies and distributeddosestostatestovaccinate priority groups. Third, 50 per cent of the vaccine supply will now be made available directly in the open market and to state governments for the vaccination programme. Private hospitals will have to procure supplies of vaccines exclusively from the 50 per cent basket,andatpricesdetermined by the manufacturers. “Manufacturerswouldtransparently make an advance declaration of the price for 50 per cent supply that would be available to State Governments and in open market, before May 1,” the Centre said. Also, the 50-50 division of supplies between the Government of India and “other than Government of India” channels would be applicable “uniformlyacrossforallvaccines manufactured in the country”. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Hit by a record 240 deaths in 24 hours, Delhi announces weeklong lockdown SOURAV ROY BARMAN NEW DELHI, APRIL 19 WITH 23,686 new cases and a record 240 deaths logged in the last 24 hours, and its health system on the verge of “collapse” amid a critical shortage of oxygen, the Delhi government Monday announced a weeklong lockdown in the national capital Delhi's latest 24-hour death count is the highest across such a period for any city in India, and well past the capital’s previous peak of 167. With more than 12,000 Covid-linked deathsrecordedso far, Delhi has had a high mortality rate with its case fatality ratio, or the number of deaths as a proportion of positive cases, CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Vaccine makers had sought funding help, market access opens up revenue source SUNNY VERMA & PRABHA RAGHAVAN NEW DELHI, APRIL 19 THE FINANCE Ministry has relaxed rules to make “advance payment” to Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers in order to speed up vaccine procurement processes. Thechangeinruleswouldeffectively enable the Health Ministry to make advance paymentsof Rs3,000croretoSerum Institute of India (SII) and Rs 1,500 crore to Bharat Biotech for procuring vaccines. Thegovernmenthaddecided to open up vaccinations to those above the age of 18 years,andtoallowmanufacturers to release around 50 per cent of doses to the open market. This would allow vaccine makers to charge a higher price than the Rs 150 per dose that they would get under the government’s im- munisation programme, which is seen as a point of contention among global vaccine manufacturers. The decisions follow reports of shortage of vaccines for priority groups in states like Maharashtra atatimewhenthereisa push for faster vaccina● tions amid a surge in daily cases. SII and BharatBiotechhavebeenunable to cope with the rise in demand E CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Harsh reply for Singh: In second wave, more need oxygen, death Your leaders must rate almost the same follow your advice EXPLAINED SIMPLY PUT VACCINE INGREDIENTS FROMU.S. PAGE 11 Manmohan tests positive, in AIIMS; PM wishes him speedy recovery MANOJ C G NEW DELHI, APRIL 19 AS COVID alarm bells continued to ring, the battle to tackle the pandemic also set off a political firestorm between the BJP government and the opposition Congress. And the spark was the lettertoPrimeMinisterNarendra Modi Sunday by his predecessor ManmohanSinghsuggestingfive steps to deal with the situation. A day after Singh wrote to Modiaskinghimtomakevaccine orderspublicandgivestatesflexibilitytoexpandthecategoriesof CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PAGE 1 ANCHOR in a desperate bid to contain the second Covid surge. The decision was taken at a meeting betweenChief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt Governor AnilBaijal,followingwhichadetailed order specifying the restrictions and exemptions was issued by Chief Secretary Vijay Dev. The lockdown kicked in at 10 pm Monday and will remain in force till 5 am on April 26. EXPLAINED States can take a call on vaccination categories Cong leaders spreading falsehoods: Harsh Vardhan THE EDITORIAL PAGE DISEASE POLITICS Partiesshouldfightthevirus, noteachother PAGE 8 KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, APRIL 19 A KEY Government task force on CovidMondaypickedimportant strandsfromtheongoingsecond wave in comparison with the first surge late last year: higher requirement of supplemental oxygen, no difference in the percentage of deaths and only marginally higher proportions of younger patients. With several states reporting a surge in demand for medical oxygen, the task force pointed to national hospital data, which showed that 54.5 per cent of admissions during the second wave required supplemental oxygen during treatment. This marked a 13.4 percentage point BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY Lockdown replay as migrants head home: ‘Can’t get stranded’ NEW DELHI, APRIL 19 ACONSTRUCTIONworkerheading home to Jharkhand, a labourer returning to Uttar Pradesh,afoodstallownerpacking up. Within hours of Delhi announcing a weeklong lockdown to tackle the second Covid surge, anddespiteanappealfromChief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, a familiar scene from last year played out at the national capital’s bus terminals and railway stations — hundreds of migrant workers lining up to leave for home. At the Anand Vihar Inter StateBusTerminal,alargecrowd of migrants gathered with bags packed, their destinations mostly Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. The chorus: “We don’twanttobestrandedagain.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 INSIDE SUMMER VACATION FOR DELHI SCHOOLS FROM TODAY PAGE 3 BORIS JOHNSON CANCELS INDIA VISIT PAGE 5 A vaccination drive at Thane Civil Hospital, Monday. Deepak Joshi ‘System incapacitated’, HC orders lockdown in 5 dists; UP says no EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE LUCKNOW, APRIL 19 SAYING that the rising Covid cases had “virtually incapacitated”themedicalinfrastructure in Uttar Pradesh, the Allahabad High Court Monday ordered a weeklonglockdowninthebadly hitPrayagraj,Lucknow,Varanasi, Kanpur Nagar and Gorakhpur districts, till April 26. Hearing a PIL on the “inhuman” condition at quarantine centres and the state of Covid treatment, a Division Bench of Justices Ajit Kumar and Siddhartha Varma said that while ordering a lockdown was the government’s prerogative, it was disappointed by the measures taken since its last order, calling them an “eyewash”. The Yogi Adityanath government, however, said it was not thinkingof acompletelockdown in the five districts as of now. Additional Chief Secretary (Information) Navneet Sahgal said the government would imposefurtherrestrictions,butthat apart from saving lives, it had to also think of livelihoods. In a statement later in the evening, the government repeated the lives and livelihoods CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Finally, BJP cuts back in Bengal: ‘Now dangerous to hold big rallies’ NEW DELHI, KOLKATA, APRIL 19 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 ANANYA TIWARI EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE increase from the peak during September and November last year, according to data from 40 centres across the country. THEINDIAN-ORIGINdoublemutant strain of the coronavirus, B.1.167, that many experts say could be behind the rapid climb of the second Covid wave, was firstdetectedwaybackinOctober 5 last year through genome sequencing of a virus sample. Because both the mutations, E484Q and L425R, were located inthevirus’scriticalspikeprotein —thatbindsittothereceptorcells inthebody.Itsdestructivepotential should have raised immediate red flags and led to widespread gene surveillance to look for its prevalence and spread. Instead, the genome sequencing exercise, already running at a snail’s pace, slowed down further between November and January due to lackof funds,absenceof cleardirectives, and, possibly, also disinterest because of the steadily falling Covid curve. AFTER THE Left, Congress and Trinamool announced that they would not hold big rallies in West Bengal, amidst rising coronaviruscases,theBJPonMonday announced that it would not hold any meeting with more than500people,includingthose addressed by Prime AnnouncingthedeciMinister Narendra Modi. sion to hold meetings atThe decision, at the tendedbya maximumof end of campaigning for 500 people, the BJP said DECISION the sixth phase, came afit was essential to break 2021 ter the BJP was criticised the chain of the coronWEST for going ahead with big avirus infection, and that BENGAL rallies and road shows, it would leverage its even as the state is seeing “massive digital footprint” its highest-ever cases, and de- to take across the message of its spite the Election Commission’s top leaders to voters. recommendation to cut down The announcement came numbers. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 In Mumbai, 90% cases of Covid in non-slums, high rises or buildings LAXMAN SINGH MUMBAI, APRIL 19 HIGH RISES and other buildings continue to report bulk of the Covid-19 cases in India’s business capital Mumbai, according to theBrihanmumbaiMunicipal Corporation(BMC).Mumbaihas about 87,000 active cases, of which over 90 per cent are concentrated in high rise buildings while slums account for just 10 per cent. Latest data compiledbyBMC showsthatnon-slumareascomprising mainly high rises and standalone buildings, have 79,032 active cases. Slums, on the other hand, have only 8,411 out of total 87,443 active cases, as on April 16. Analysts tracking the geographicspreadof Covid-19inthe city, said the rapid rise in Mumbai will likely be followed by a sharp fall too. A sharp increase in cases in high rises and standalonebuildings,alongwith a concerted vaccination drive, can result in a faster build-up in seroprevalence, said Neelkant Mishra of Credit Suisse, in his analysisof thesharpriseinCovid cases in the second wave. InJuly2020,theresultsof the first serosurvey showed sero- prevalence in slums stood at 57 per cent compared with 16 per cent in non-slums. In August, a secondsurvey,however,showed that seroprevalence was lower at 45 per cent in slums, and rose marginally to 18 per cent for non-slums. In the first wave, slums were worst affected. For example, in June 2020, of the total Covid cases in the city, almost twothirdswerereportedfromslums and chawls, which have high population density. And 42 lakh peopleinslumswereincontainment zones compared with 8 lakh residing in buildings. The different contours of the Housing societies will be declared micro containment zones if they have more than five active cases. File geographical spread has also prompted the BMC to revise its SOPs. On April 5, Municipal Commissioner I S Chahal issued anewstandardoperatingprocedure(SOP)todeclarehousingsocieties as micro containment zones if they had more than five active cases. Now housing societyofficebearersaretaskedwith ensuring that Covid-19 guidelines are followed. The BMC data shows the highest number of 273 sealed buildings or micro containment zones are in K-west ward (Andheri, Jogeshwari), followed by 247 in D-ward (Malabar Hill, Grant Road) and 147 in F-south ward (Parel, Seweree). Majority of the population in these areas livesinhigh-risebuildings.While 1,169 buildings are currently sealed, the number of sealed floors has also increased to 10,797 across Mumbai. Over 20 lakhpeopleareinmicrocontainment zones and sealed floors. “Following the high number of casesinbuildings,theBMCofficials are keeping a check on violations. An FIR was recently filed against residents of buildings after it was found that they were roaming outside despite beingtestedCovidpositive,”said an official from BMC. Assistant Municipal Commi- ssioner, D ward, Prashant Gaikwad said he had to take meetingswith housing societies beforeimplementingmicrocontainment zone rules. “There was a lot of confusion in housing societies as under the new rule,society office bearers have been given the responsibility to ensureguidelinesarefollowed.Iinteracted with housing societies via zoom link to clear their confusion,” Gaikwad. Mumbai is witnessing a surge in daily cases. In January and February, the city reported around 23,000 new cases a day, butin March, itrecordedclose to even 90,000 cases a day.
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