Delhi hikes mask fines to Rs 2,000 as cases soar; Serum Institute CEO hopes for effective vaccine by May-June
Delhi has taken various measures this week to rein in the rising number of cases including flying in paramedical personnel, increasing the hospital beds, raising the fine for not wearing masks and imposing a tab on wedding guests
India's coronavirus cases rose to 89.58 lakh with fresh 45,576 infections being reported on Thursday, while the number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to over 83.83 lakh pushing the national recovery rate to 93.58 percent, according to Union Health Ministry data.
The COVID-19 toll climbed to 1,31,578 with 585 new fatalities — 131 from Delhi, 100 from Maharashtra, 54 from West Bengal, 31 from Punjab, 30 from Haryana, 29 from Uttar Pradesh, 28 from Kerala, 23 from Chhattisgarh and 21 from Karnataka.
The number of active cases remained below 5 lakh for the ninth consecutive day. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a cumulative total of 12,85,08,389 samples have been tested up to 18 November, of which 10,28,203 samples were tested on Wednesday.
‘Safe, effective vaccine to be available by May, June’
The Pune-based drug maker signed a deal with British-Swedish company AstraZeneca to manufacture COVID-19 vaccine candidate, developed by the University of Oxford.
The final stage of the clinical trial of Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine has already started in the country.
The coronavirus vaccine developed by teams at the University of Oxford has been shown to trigger a robust immune response in healthy adults aged 56-69 and those over 70 years of age.
'Priority to healthcare workers, people above 65'
Noting that it is natural to prioritise COVID-19 vaccine distribution, health minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said healthcare workers and people aged above 65 will be early recipients when a vaccine becomes available.
Addressing a webinar organised by the FICCI FLO on ''The Shifting Healthcare Paradigm During and Post-Covid'', Vardhan said COVID-19 vaccine will be available in the next few months and it is estimated that by July-August 400-500 million doses will be made available for 25-30 crore people.
"It is natural the vaccine distribution would have to be prioritised. As you know the healthcare workers who are corona warriors they will be prioritised, then people who are above 65 years of age they have been prioritised, then those from 50-65 years of age have been prioritised," he said.
"Then those below 50 years who have other diseases. It is all being decided by experts with a scientific point of view. We have made a very detailed, meticulous plan on this. What we would have to do in March-April next year, we have started planning for it from now only," Vardhan added.
The minister said one can protect oneself from this deadly virus with small precautions like wearing a good quality mask properly, maintaining social distance and taking care of hand-hygiene.
Delhi raises fine for not wearing masks
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced a Rs 2,000 fine, up from the current Rs 500, for those caught without masks, to help control the coronavirus surge. He also appealed to all political parties and social organisations to distribute masks at public places in Delhi.
The Delhi government on Thursday directed all district magistrates (DMs) to take steps to double the number of testing centres in their respective districts immediately. The order issued by the Delhi health department also said that manpower required for the new testing centres "may be hired from open market, if required".
The National Capital has taken various measures this week to rein in the rising number of cases including flying in paramedical personnel, increasing the number of beds in hospitals and imposing lockdown in markets that could emerge as hotspots.
The Delhi High Court also slammed the government over a delay in reducing the number of guests allowed at weddings from 200 to 50. “You (Delhi government) saw from 1 November which way the wind was blowing. But you turn turtle now because we asked you some questions. The bell should have rung loud and clear when the numbers were spiralling. Why did you not wake up when you saw the situation was deteriorating?" the court asked.
Meanwhile in Noida, random testing was conducted at metro stations and slums, a day after screening was conducted at Delhi-Noida borders.
Night curfew in Ahmedabad; 2nd wave likely in Mumbai
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials said a final decision on whether New Year celebrations will be allowed in hotels and restaurants will be taken next month following a review. They added in case of a surge in the cases in December, several restrictions may be imposed on the celebrations.
Ahmedabad has imposed night curfew from 9 pm to 6 am after coronavirus cases kept rising in the city. The curfew will come into effect from Friday and will stay on indefinitely. The city in Gujarat reported a total of 46,022 till Wednesday.
Centre rushes high-level teams to 4 states
The Centre has rushed high-level teams to Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Manipur where they will visit districts reporting high number of COVID-19 cases and support the states’ efforts towards strengthening containment, surveillance, testing and efficient clinical management of positive cases.
Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS, New Delhi is leading the three-member team to Haryana and Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), Niti Aayog is heading the Rajasthan team.
The health ministry said Dr SK Singh, Director (NCDC) will be leading the team to Gujarat while Dr L Swasticharan, Additional DDG, DHGS is heading the Manipur team.
Five MBBS seats reserved for deceased COVID-19 warriors’ children
The government has decided to reserve five MBBS seats under the central pool for wards of COVID-19 warriors for the academic year 2020-2021 “to dignify and honour the noble contribution made by COVID-19 warriors who have lost their lives due to the infection or died accidently on account of COVID-19 -related duty”.
The selection will be made by the Medical Council Committee (MCC) through online application on the basis of rank obtained in the NEET-2020 conducted by National Testing Agency. The state and union territory (UT) government will certify the eligibility for this category.
Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij who had offered to be the first volunteer in the phase three trials for Covaxin, a potential vaccine against COVID-19 , will get the dose on Friday. Meanwhile, Karnataka minister Sadananda Gowda tested positive and has isolated himself.
With inputs from agencies
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The volunteer, who had no comorbidities, developed viral pneumonitis after being given a dose of the COVAXIN shot.
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Both the vaccines candidates will be administered in two doses via intramuscular injections 28 days apart.
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