Second dry run for COVID-19 vaccination drive held in over 700 districts; Delhi govt issues SOPs for UK returnees
The number of people who have tested positive for the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 has climbed to 82 in India, the Centre said; the number of such people stood at 73 till 6 January
India conducted the second dry run to test the efficiency of its vaccine delivery system in 736 districts on Friday, as the number of new COVID-19 cases fell below 19,000 for the fifth time this month.
The Centre and state governments also geared up to implement protocol for passengers travelling to India from the UK, where a new strain of the COVID-19 virus was detected in December 2020. Passenger flights from the UK to India, which were suspended for 16 days after the new strain was detected, resumed operations on Friday.
The Delhi government said that passengers arriving in the National Capital from the UK will have to undergo a seven-day institutional quarantine even if they test negative for COVID-19.
The number of people who have tested positive for the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 has climbed to 82 in India, the Centre said. The number of such people stood at 73 till 6 January.
Meanwhile, in a bid to tackle a surge in cases, the UK approved its third vaccine made by the American biotech company Moderna which has already been rolled out in the US.
It can now start being rolled out alongside the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines already being administered by the National Health Service (NHS) following approvals last year.
Second dry run to test vaccine delivery system conducted today
A day-long vaccination dry run was carried out in 736 districts across the country to identify loopholes in the logistics and training of the vaccine delivery system on Friday. The first such exercise was held on 2 January.
The Union Health Ministry had earlier said that the dry run for COVID-19 vaccination was aimed at testing the linkages between planning and implementation and to identify the challenges.
It had said that the objective of the dry run was to assess the operational feasibility in the use of Co-WIN application in field environment, to test the linkages between planning and implementation and to identify the challenges and guide way forward prior to actual implementation.
The dry run will also equip the administration of the states and union territories in management of vaccine supply, storage and logistics including cold chain management, it had said.
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan asked state governments "to submit their inputs after the dry run gets completed", NDTV reported.
The report added that Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Arunachal Pradesh weren't scheduled to participate in the dry run, since they had done so in the first round of the exercise.
In Maharashtra, the dry run was conducted in 32 of the total 36 districts. State health minister Rajesh Tope said, "There are still some areas in the overall system where we need to improve efficiency in terms of data updation, delivery of SMS and training the local staff for inoculation."
In Delhi, the dry run was conducted in South Delhi, South East Delhi, North West Delhi and New Delhi districts.
Health Minister Satyendar Jain had earlier said the COVID-19 vaccine will be provided to the people of Delhi for free once it arrives and asserted that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government had made all preparations for the vaccination drive.
The officials said 10 vaccination centres have been chosen in South Delhi for the dry run, including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Safdarjung Hospital, the Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Hospital, the Pushpwati Singhania Hospital and Research Institute.
Delhi govt announces mandatory institutional quarantine for those arriving from UK
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kerjiwal announced several measures for passengers arriving from the UK, as the government sought to tighten protocols to "protect Delhiites" from the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2.
After completion of the institutional quarantine, such passengers will have to go under home-quarantine for another seven days which will be ensured through "strict surveillance" by district authorities.
In an order issued on Friday, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority said the new rules would be applicable on a trial basis till 14 January.
"Those who test positive for COVID-19 at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport on arrival from the UK will be isolated at facilities set up by the government," the chief minister said.
"To protect Delhiites from exposure to the virus from the UK, the Delhi government has taken important decisions. Travellers coming from UK will have to mandatorily undergo a self-paid RT-PCR test on arrival at the airport," he said.
"All those arriving from the UK who test positive will be isolated at an isolation facility. Negative ones will be taken to a quarantine facility for seven days, followed by seven days of home-quarantine," Kejriwal tweeted.
"Those found negative will be given the option of both the paid and the government's free institutional quarantine facility," Chief Secretary Vijay Dev told PTI.
So far, 13 Delhi residents have been found infected with the mutant variant of COVID-19 that was first detected in the UK.
On Thursday, Kejriwal had urged the Centre to extend the ban on flights between India and the UK till 31 January in view of the "extremely serious" COVID situation in that country.
On Thursday, Kejriwal had said, "With great difficulty, people have brought COVID situation in control. UK's COVID situation is very serious. Now, why lift ban and expose our people to risk?"
Harsh Vardhan says India will be able to vaccinate entire population soon
Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday said soon it will be a reality to vaccinate the entire population in the country against COVID-19 after prioritising risk groups.
The Centre has started a new COVID platform to track particulars of potential vaccine beneficiaries and also issue electronic certificates to them, he told reporters after reviewing the dry run of administering COVID-19 vaccine at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital here as part of a state-wide programme.
India, he said, has done extremely well in developing vaccines in the shortest possible time, and presently two vaccines have been given emergency use authorisation.
"In the next few days, also in the near future, we should be able to give this vaccine to our countrymen prioritising those who are at risk in public and private sectors. The government has already made known the scheme of things," he added.
The minister, who visited the Government Omandurar Hospital in Chennai on Friday, said, "We started the preparation for the impending vaccine drive against COVID four or five months ago after Prime Minister Narendra Modiji constituted the national expert group for vaccination. We worked all the minute details and shared the information with those at grassroot level."
In the process, several lakhs of health workers were trained adequately.
COVID-19 caseload details
India's total caseload of cases rose to 1,04,13,417 on Friday, while the recoveries surged to 1,00,37,398, according to data updated by the Union health ministry.
A total of 18,139 new infections were reported in the span of 24 hours. Meanwhile, the toll increased to 1,50,570, as 234 more people succumbed to the disease during the same period, the data updated at 8 am showed.
The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,00,37,398, pushing the national recovery rate to 96.39 percent, while the COVID-19 case fatality rate stood at 1.45 percent.
The active COVID-19 caseload remained below three lakh for the 18th consecutive day.
There are 2,25,449 active coronavirus infections in the country, which account for 2.16 percent of the total caseload, the data stated.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 17,93,36,364 samples have been tested for COVID-19 till 7 January, including 9,35,369 on Thursday.
The 234 new fatalities include 72 from Maharashtra, 25 from Kerala, 19 from Delhi and 18 from West Bengal.
Of the total 1,50,570 COVID-19 deaths reported in the country so far, Maharashtra accounted for 49,897, followed by Tamil Nadu (12,200), Karnataka (12,131), Delhi (10,644), West Bengal (9,881), Uttar Pradesh (8,452), Andhra Pradesh (7,126) and Punjab (5,422).
With inputs from PTI
The precaution dose coverage among the 64,89,99,721 eligible population was eight per cent till 14 July
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has tested positive for COVID-19, which is the second time she has contracted the virus in two months.
Delhi on 7 August reported 1,372 new Covid infections and six deaths as the case positivity rate rose to 17.85 percent, the highest since 21 January, according to health department data.