COVID-19 updates: PM cancels CBSE, ICSE Class 12 Board exams; daily cases lowest in 54 days
Addressing a press conference on COVID-19 among children, the NITI Aayog said that though the 2019 SARS coronavirus has not taken a serious shape among children till now, its impact can increase if there is a change in virus behaviour
Faced with the second wave of COVID-19 and its impact on children, the government announced the cancellation of the CBSE Class 12 board examinations. The ICSE followed soon after and it too cancelled the Class 12 board exams on Tuesday.
However, even as worries over the impact of the pandemic on students called for the cancellation, in what appears to be a sharp contrast, the state of Chhattisgarh began the intermediate exams from today.
The impact of COVID-19 on children was also the focus of a press conference by the NITI Aayog COVID-19 task force, which said that though the coronavirus infection has not taken a serious shape among children till now, its impact can increase among them if there is a change in virus behaviour or epidemiology dynamics.
The task force, however, assured that preparations are on to deal with any such situation.
Meanwhile, the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that there are 9,346 children, who have been abandoned, orphaned or lost a parent to the COVID-19 pandemic as per the data submitted to it by different states till 29 May.
Also, on Tuesday, the Maharashtra government, which had filed a separate note before a bench of Justices LN Rao and Aniruddha Bose, said that 4,451 children have lost one of their parents due to the pandemic and 141 children have lost both parents as per the data received from different areas till 30 May.
The submission comes amid discrepancies on the actual number of children impacted by the pandemic and those reported by the authorities. One such mismatch being reported by a local newspaper in Rajasthan has emerged as the latest point of tussle between the BJP and Congress in the state.
This, even as India reported 1,27,510 fresh COVID-19 cases, the lowest in 54 days, while the daily positivity rate dropped to 6.62 percent, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday. With the fresh cases, India's tally of coronavirus cases rose to 2,81,75,044.
According to official data, 2,795 COVID-19 deaths took place in the 24 hours, the lowest in 35 days, taking fatalities from the 2019 SARS coronavirus to 3,31,895. The active cases were also below 20 lakh after 43 days, the data updated at 8.00 am showed.
The virus took another senior leader from the BJP with former Madhya Pradesh minister Laxmikant Sharma succumbing to it at a private hospital on Monday night, PTI reported. The senior BJP leader is survived by his wife and three daughters.
Among those who tested positive on Tuesday, included Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal who has been admitted to AIIMS hospital in Delhi, and Kerala industries minister P Rajeev, who was admitted to the Government Medical College hospital. Rajeev has received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
On the global front, the influential five-nation grouping BRICS on Tuesday supported a proposal by India and South Africa to temporarily waive patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Meanwhile, the WHO issued an emergency use listing to a second Chinese COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine manufactured by Sinovac has been listed for people aged 18 years and over.
Last month, the global health organisation had given the green light to the COVID-19 vaccine made by Sinopharm. Currently, at least 11 vaccines, including Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN, are awaiting emergency use listing from the WHO.
Situation in states
Tamil Nadu reported 26,513 fresh coronavirus cases, the highest among all states, and 490 related fatalities pushing the toll to 24,722. Coimbatore logged 3,332 new cases while the state capital Chennai added 2,467 infections, a health department bulletin said.
In Karnataka, the total number of active COVID-19 cases fell below three lakh with the state reporting 14,304 and 464 fatalities. The total number of cases in the state stands at 26,18,735 while 29,554 have died of the virus. The total number of active cases is 2,98,299.
Out of the 14,304 new cases reported on Tuesday, 3,418 were from Bengaluru Urban, as the city saw 5,483 discharges and 276 deaths.
The COVID-19 situation improved further in Maharashtra with the state recording 14,123 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest since 10 March. In a bid to provide relief to patients, the state govt also announced that it will be rationalising COVID-19 treatment rates at private hospitals in the state.
After a gap of 40 days, fresh COVID-19 cases plummeted below the 10,000-mark in West Bengal with 9,424 new infections reported in 24 hours. The state was registering over 10,000 cases daily since 21 April.
Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand extend lockdown till 10 June
On Tuesday, several states announced an extension of the lockdown. While Andhra Pradesh extended the lockdown till 10 June, in Lakshadweep the complete lockdown was extended till 6 June.
The Government of Jharkhand too extended the lockdown-like restrictions till 10 June, but with some relaxations, including doing away with the need for e-pass for inter-district movement. Both UP and MP said that they will lift lockdown restrictions in a phased manner.
Madhya Pradesh, where restrictions began easing from today, reported 1,078 fresh coronavirus positive cases and 45 fatalities, taking the tally to 7,81,108 and the toll to 8,112, the state health department said.
In Bihar, the Nitish Kumar government amended the states Panchayati Raj Act, paving way for setting up advisory committees for supervising the functioning of the village bodies till fresh elections to these, put off because of the COVID-19 surge, could be held.
According to state Panchayati Raj minister SamratChoudhary, the proposal to this effect received the nod at the cabinet meeting held earlier in the day and further modalities will be decided once the amendment gets clearance from the Governor.
In the northeast, the state of Tripura announced that it will resume academic activities from 15 June. However, Manipur extended the closure of schools till further orders due to COVID-19 . The state, which had announced summer vacations between 1 May to 31 May, had reported 798 new COVID-19 cases pushing the tally to 51,549. Eighteen fresh fatalities were also registered to take the death toll to 825.
COVID impact may increase in children if virus changes behaviour: Govt
Addressing a press conference on COVID-19 among children, NITI Aayog Member (Health) VK Paul said that children are generally asymptomatic or symptoms are minimal.
"Even if they get infected, it does not take a serious shape and hospitalisation is rarely required. But this situation in the paediatric population can change if the virus changes its behaviour or if there are changes in epidemiology dynamics, so then it can happen that COVID impact can increase in children," he said.
Paul also said that only two to three percent of children infected with COVID-19 might need hospitalisation.
He also cautioned that even though the coronavirus infection has not taken a serious shape among children till now, its impact can increase among them if there is a change in virus behaviour or epidemiology dynamics, and said preparations are on to deal with any such situation.
"We reassure you that the needs of the paediatric population will be arranged and no gaps will be left," he said, adding "we will do an audit of what is required and would be required in the worst-case scenario and be put into action."
Paul said multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) has been seen post-COVID among children and a national group has been formed to look into the pediatric complications related to the infection.
"It was also seen that after COVID gets cured, after two-six weeks in some children again fever and rash comes and eyes get inflamed and diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding tendency is seen... this syndrome is called a multi-system inflammatory syndrome," Paul said.
"Multi-system inflammatory syndrome does not have a difficult treatment but it must be timely," Paul added.
India to have enough shots to vaccinate 1 crore people/day by early-Aug: Centre
India will have enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to inoculate up to one crore people per day by mid-July or early August, the government asserted on Tuesday as it underlined that there is no shortage of jabs and called for patience citing the country's large population.
Addressing a press conference, ICMR director-general Dr Balram Bhargava said India's vaccination is being ramped up and "by December we hope to have the whole country vaccinated".
He mentioned that India is one of the five countries which are producing vaccines and asserted that "there is no shortage of vaccines".
"Shortage is what you feel if you want to vaccinate the country within a month. The total number of vaccinations done in the country is nearly equivalent to the total number done in the United States and our population is four times the population of the USA. We have to have some patience.
"By mid-of year, mid-July or early August, we will have more than enough doses to vaccinate up to a crore per day," he said.
Joint Secretary in Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said 4,03,49,830 vaccine doses were supplied from the Centre to states free of cost in May while 2,66,50,500 doses were directly procured by states and 1,24,54,760 doses were directly procured by private hospitals.
In the past month, a total of 7,94,55,090 doses were available, of which 6,10,57,003 doses have been administered.
The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has reached 21,60,46,638, according to the ministry data updated this morning.
Containment has worked, but not a sustainable solution: Centre
Noting that the ferocious second wave is on the verge of abating, the Centre also said that ramping up testing as well as containment at the district level "has worked" in bringing down the cases. At the same time, it cautioned that while the easing of lockdown is imperative, it has to be done very slowly.
"Whatever we know from possible scenarios presented by eminent people, it (COVID) will decline and June will be much much better but the concerns are when we open up how do we behave because the virus has not gone anywhere," NITI Aayog member (Health) VK Paul said.
Bhargava said in the first week of April there were less than 200 districts that had more than 10 percent case positivity which in the last week of April rose to nearly 600 districts.
"India ramped up testing as well as containment which worked but still 239 districts have more than 10 percent positivity, 145 districts have a positivity between 5 to 10 percent while 350 districts, which is nearly half of India, have less than 5 percent case positivity," he said.
"We are moving in the right direction. Testing has been ramped as well as the containment at the district level has worked.
However, it is not a sustainable solution and we have to find a mechanism on how to ease our containment or lockdown and that has to be done very gradually.
"The opening up revolves on three pillars, the test positivity rate in that particular district has to be less than 5 percent for over a week, at least 70 percent of the vulnerable population should be vaccinated and community ownership for this COVID-19 -appropriate behaviour as well as care should be taken up by the community in a big way," he said.
Paul said the peak rose very fast driven by highly transmissible variants and a pool of vulnerable people available to the virus.
"It went beyond estimates. It is coming down but change happened because restriction-based containment was implemented intensively," he said.
Agarwal said there has been a continuous decrease in daily cases since India reported a peak on 7 May.
There has been an almost 69 percent decline in COVID-19 cases since the highest peak, he said, adding that there has been a consistent decline in active cases which presently stand at 18.95 lakh.
A decrease in active cases by more than 18 lakhs since the peak on 10 May (a decline of almost 50 percent) has been observed. The daily positivity rate reported on Tuesday is 6.62 percent, the lowest since 1 April.
DCs to certify health workers' claims under PM insurance scheme
In a bid to cut delays in the processing of insurance claims under the 'Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) Insurance Scheme for Health Workers Fighting COVID-19 ', the Central Government introduced a new system under which district collectors will certify such claims for settlement by the insurance firm within 48 hours.
"The district collector in each case will be certifying that the claim is in accordance with SoP of the Scheme. On the basis of this certificate of the collector, the insurance company will approve and settle the claims within a period of 48 hours.
"Further, for the sake of uniformity and prompt disposal, the district collector will also do due diligence and certify the claims even in case of Central Government hospitals/AIIMS/ Railways etc," the statement said.
The scheme provides a comprehensive personal accident cover of Rs 50 lakh to all healthcare providers, including community health workers and private health workers drafted by the government for the care of COVID-19 patients and for those who may have come in direct contact with COVID-19 patients and were at risk of being impacted by it.
Plea in SC raises issue of death of scribes due to COVID
An application has been filed in the Supreme Court raising the issue of the death of several journalists across the country due to COVID-19 and seeking directions to ensure that proper treatment is provided to them and their family members.
It has sought to recognise all journalists and media persons as frontline warriors' so that they can avail benefits being extended to all such workers.
The application filed by Kota Neelima, who is the director of the Institute of Perception Studies and its media initiative Rate the Debate, has sought to intervene in the ongoing suo motu case related to the distribution of essential supplies and services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It said that since April last year, the institute has been conducting research into the deaths of journalists due to COVID-19 and has found stark data on the lack of medical facilities for scribes.
There have been 253 deaths of journalists due to COVID-19 which have been verified and 93 death which are unverified between 1 April, 2020, to 19 May, 2021. The said list is not exhaustive.
The application has sought the apex court's direction to the government to provide free treatment to journalists in private as well as government hospitals during the pandemic and also for reimbursement of their bills.
With inputs from agencies
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