CMYK GLOBAL MEDIA BLAMES MODI FOR PANDEMIC SECOND WAVE OPINION Rs. 3 PATNA SUNDAY, 25 APRIL, 2021 PG-12, YEAR—7, ISSUE—150 (RNI NO: BIHENG / 2014 / 59124) SUNIEL SHETTY: I MADE MISTAKES BUT THAT IS FINE SCREEN & CINEMA Morning India 20 Covid patients die at Delhi hospital amid oxygen scarcity AGENCIES NEW DELHI: Twenty people died at Delhi's Jaipur Golden Hospital, their lives ebbing away as the hospital waited for oxygen to be replenished, officials said on Saturday, day five of a deepening crisis over the scarcity of oxygen vital to save critically ill Covid patients. Every few hours, as it has been for the last days, hospitals across the national capital and its suburbs sent out desperate messages of help on social media and other platforms, flagging their dwindling stocks of oxygen. A day after 25 patients died at the Ganga Ram Hospital, one of the city's biggest and most high-profile health facilities, the court told the Delhi government to give it one instance of oxygen supply being obstructed and said, "We will hang that man.” "We will not spare anyone," the bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli added while hearing Maharaja Agrasen Hospital's plea over the shortage of oxygen for its seriously ill Covid patients. At the Jaipur Golden Hospital in southwest Delhi's Rohini locality, the worst fears came true. "Oxygen pressure 8 die in Chamoli avalanche AGENCIES DEHRADUN: Eight Border Roads Organisation workers were killed in an avalanche near the Indo-China border in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district, officials said on Saturday. Two bodies had been recovered from the site in Sumna area of Niti Valley on Friday night, while six more were recovered on Saturday, District Magistrate Swati Bhadauria said. Four injured have been rescued from the site, where rescue operations are on, Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat told reporters at Joshimath. Around 391 BRO personnel out of over 400 who were at work when the avalanche occurred on on Friday are said to have reached the Indo-Tibetan Border Police camps safely, said Rawat, who undertook an aerial survey of the area to assess the damage. Sumna, where the avalanche occurred is approximately 25 km from Malari village and located near the confluence of Girthigad and Kiogad, two streams that originate from Dhauli Ganga, which witnessed a calamitous avalanche in February in which 80 people were killed. IAF brings 4 cryogenic containers from Singapore AGENCIES NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force on Saturday picked up from Singapore four cryogenic containers for storage of liquid oxygen, officials said. The containers were airlifted from Singapore by C17 heavy-lift aircraft of the IAF. The aircraft with four cryogenic oxygen containers landed at Panagarh airbase in West Bengal at around 4:30 pm, the officials said. India is struggling with the second wave of the coronavirus infection and hospitals in several states are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds in view of a rising number of COVID-19 cases. has dipped as we are running out of stock," Medical Director D K Baluja said as news came in of its 20 patients dying through the night. He said the hospital has over 200 patients and at 10.45 am, only half-an-hour of oxygen was left. Hospital officials added that over 80 per cent of the patients in the hospital were on oxygen support and 35 were in the ICU. At Ganga Ram hospital, authorities struggled to avoid a repeat of the earlier day's tragedy. The hospital requires a minimum of 11,000 cubic metres of oxygen daily but was left with just 200 cubic metres when a tanker with 1.5 tonnes of oxygen arrived at 11.35 am, officials said. "Patients are suffering. We feel sad to see people bringing their oxygen cylinders . Hospital has and is approaching all authorities and nodal officers but no help is coming, Hundreds of calls made, nobody picking the calls," hospital chairperson D S Rana said. "We were running oxygen at half the normal pressure. This supply of 1.5 tonnes of oxygen will may be two hours. The situation is scary," added a hospital official. In a pincer effect, the shortage of oxygen and the explosion in the number of cases in Delhi have together stretched healthcare infrastructure to its absolute limits, leaving hospitals big and small struggling and coming up with band aid solutions – limited supplies to see them through for the next few hours before another SOS call. Outside the hospitals, scenes of despair played out with queues of ambulances, frantic relatives and patients gasping for breath as they waited for help and hospitals, overwhelmed and helpless, tried to deal with the multiple emergencies at their doorstep. The story was repeated in hospital after hospital. “We have alerted patients we are low on oxygen. using back up now. Things are really uncertain. Haven't received a refill for the last 44 hours," said P K Bhardwaj, medical director, Saroj Super Speciality Hospital, a mid-sized hospital in Rohini. “We are advising them to shift to another hospital. The patients are aware that we have been trying our best,” he said, adding that it has been getting just one metric tonne of oxygen instead of the three it needs. Batra Hospital in Tughlakabad Institutional Area received emergency oxygen supply from the Delhi government moments after it exhausted its stock, officials said. Hospitals ask patients to leave amid Oxygen crisis AGENCIES NEW DELHI: Amid deepening crisis over the scarcity of oxygen, several hospitals in the national capital have been left with no option but to use their back up stock, with some like Saroj Super Speciality Hospital advising relatives to shift their patients to another facility. With Fortis Hospital (Shalimar Bagh), presently running on its back up oxygen supply, urged the prime minister, Delhi chief minister and other ministers for "immediate assistance", Saroj Super Speciality, having not received oxygen refill for the past 44 hours, is now advising its patients to shift to other hospitals. "We are running low on oxygen and using our back up now. We have alerted our patients about the situation, and are advising them to shift to another hospital. Things are really uncertain," P K Bhardwaj, medical director, Saroj Super Speciality Hospital, said. Bhardwaj said the hospi- tal, which needs three metric tonnes of oxygen per day on average, was only getting around one metric tonne for the past few days. Seventy patients at the hospital are on oxygen supply currently. Twenty critically-ill patients died overnight at Jaipur Golden Hospital in Delhi amid a serious oxygen crisis. The hospital, which has over 200 patients, had only half-an-hour of oxygen left left at 10:45 am. The situation is equally worrisome at the Fortis Hospital in Shalimar Bagh which is running on its back up oxygen supply, desperately waiting for the refill since morning. "Fortis Healthcare @fortis_hospital #SOS Fortis Shalimar bagh is running out of oxygen. Patients' lives are at risk. We are running on backup, waiting for supplies since morning. We are currently suspending admissions. Request immediate assistance @PMOIndia @ArvindKejriwal @AmitShah @PiyushGoyal @rajnathsingh," tweeted the hospital. The hospital said it is keeping the patients and attendants informed about the "critical situation", and trying to manage admitted patients to the best of their abilities. Other hospitals which got fresh supplies claimed their O2 stock would get exhausted in a few hours only. Batra Hospital in Tughlakabad Institutional area, which received emergency oxygen supply from the Delhi government moments after it exhausted its stock around 9 am, said their stock will "last another one-and-ahalf hours". "Just now, we received an emergency supply from the Delhi government. It will last another one-and-a-half hours. Our supplier has not been responding to calls," Executive Director of Batra hospital, Sudhanshu Bankata, said, adding that the facility exhausted its oxygen stock around 9 am. There are around 350 patients admitted at the hospital, of which 265 are COVID-19 positive and 30 are in the ICU. Will hang anyone blocking oxygen supply: Delhi HC AGENCIES NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court on Saturday asked the Centre about the preparedness to deal with the expected COVID-19 second wave peak in mid-May, terming the massive rise in cases as a ‘Tsunami', and warned it will "hang" any person who tries to obstruct oxygen supplies to hospitals here. Talking tough, a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, said this during a special hearing on a holiday on the issue of mounting oxygen crisis in various hospitals in Delhi. The court said the viral disease has a low mortality and those who have a low immunity will eventually die but the problem comes when people who could be saved are also dying. "The mortality rate needs to be reduced." Referring to a study by a team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, the court noted its assessment that the peak of this COVID wave will come in midMay. “We are calling it a wave, it is actually a Tsunami,” the court said, and asked the Centre about the preparedness in terms of infrastructure, hospitals, medical staff, medicines, vaccines and oxygen as on date for the peak. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said there might be a rapid rise in the number of cases in May. Justice Ramana sworn in as CJI AGENCIES NEW DELHI: Justice Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana was sworn in as the 48th Chief Justice of India by President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday. Justice Ramana took the oath in English in the name of God at a brief ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan. It was President Kovind's first public engagement after bypass surgery earlier this month. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad were among those present at the ceremony. Justice Ramana was appointed Chief Justice of India on April 6,l 2021. Born on August 27, 1957, in Ponnavaram village in Andhra Pradesh's Krishna district, Justice Ramana was enrolled as an advocate on February 10, 1983. He was appointed a permanent judge of the Andhra Pradesh high court on June 27, 2000, and functioned as acting chief justice of the Andhra Pradesh high court from March 10, 2013 to May 20, 2013. Govt exempts customs duty on Covid vaccine, oxygen AGENCIES NEW DELHI: The government on Saturday exempted basic customs duty on import of COVID vaccine, medicalgrade oxygen and related equipment to boost domestic availability and make them cheaper amid rising infections across the country. The decision to exempt customs duty was taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to boost oxygen availability in the country. "In order to augment their production and availability and to meet the rising demand, it was decided to grant full exemption from Basic Customs Duty and health cess on import of the following items related to oxygen and oxygen related equipment for a period of three months with immediate effect," an official statement said. It was also decided that basic customs duty on import of COVID vaccines be also exempted with immediate effect for a period of three months, it added. The 16 oxygen and related equipment on which duty has been waived include oxygen concentrator along with flow meter, regulator, connectors and tubing, oxygen canister, filling systems, storage tanks, cylinders, including cryogenic cylinders and tank. Ventilators (capable of functioning as high-flow devices) with nasal canula; helmets for use with noninvasive ventilation, noninvasive ventilation oronasal and nasal masks for ICU ventilators too have been exempted from the import duty and health cess. "This will boost the availability of these items as well as make them cheaper. The PM directed the Revenue Department to ensure seamless and quick customs clearance of such equipment," the statement said. The government presently levies 10 per cent customs or import duty on vaccines coming from overseas. The exemption from import duty would help keep low the cost of overseas vaccines that are being eyed to supplement domestically made shots ahead of opening COVID-19 vaccination to all citizens over 18 years of age. PUNE: Serum Institute of India, which makes the most used Covid-19 vaccine in the country, on Saturday defended pricing Covishield vaccine at 1.5 times the initial rate, saying the earlier price was based on advance funding and now it has to invest in scaling up and expanding capacity to produce more shots. Serum Institute of India, which manufactures AstraZeneca's vaccine Covishield at its Pune facility, earlier this week announced a price of Rs 600 per dose and at Rs 400 for state governments and any new contract by the central government. This compared to Rs 150 per dose it charges the central government for the existing supplies. "There was an inaccurate comparison done between the global prices of the vaccine with India," SII said. "Covisheld is the most affordable Covid-19 vaccine available in the market today." The initial price, it said, was "kept low globally as it was based on advance funding given by those countries for at risk vaccine manufacturing. The initial supply price of Covishield for all government immunization programme, including India, has been the lowest," it said. "The current situation is extremely dire, the virus is constantly mutating while the public remains at risk. Identifying the uncertainty, we have to ensure sustainability as we must be able to invest in scaling up and expanding our capacity to fight the pandemic and save lives." SII added. AGENCIES MUMBAI: In a series of swift moves, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered an FIR against exMaharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, raided around 10 locations across multiple cities and later detained him in Nagpur, official sources said here on Saturday. Following the first information report, the CBI teams wearing PPE kits, swooped at Deshmukh's home in Nagpur and other premises in Mumbai, Thane and Pune, stunning the ruling ally, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Deshmukh, who had been interrogated earlier by the CBI in Mumbai for 8 hours on April 14, was likely to undergo a second round of questioning on Saturday. The CBI action is part of the primary probe into the corruption allegations levelled against him by former Mumbai Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh last month, sparking off a massive political upheaval. "The CBI has registered an FIR in connection with the corruption allegations against Deshmukh, and searches are underway at various places," a CBI official connected to the probe told IANS. In the FIR invoking provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Indian Penal Code, the CBI is understood to have named Deshmukh and at least 5 others as accused in the case pertaining to allegations that the former home minister asked a police official to 'collect' Rs 100-crore per month from hoteliers and other sources. AGENCIES NEW DELHI: A record singleday rise of 3,46,786 coronavirus cases pushed India's tally of infection to 1,66,10,481, while active cases crossed the 25-lakh mark, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Saturday. The death toll rose to 1,89,544 with a record 2,624 more fatalities in a day, the data updated at 8 am showed. With a steady increase, active cases in the country reached 25,52,940 and comprise 15.37 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery AGENCIES NEW DELHI: A day after Chief Ministers raised about price uniformity of the vaccine to be administered from May 1, the health ministry has issued clarification on the issue. "It is clarified that the Govt of India's procurement price for both #COVID19 vaccines remains at Rs 150 per dose. GOI procured doses will continue to be provided TOTALLY FREE to States," said a tweet by the Health Ministry. Many Chief Ministers have written to the Prime Minister and Congress interim President Sonia Gandgi had also written to PM Modi expressing concern over different pricing for vaccines. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel in a meeting with the Prime Minister had urged that vaccines to states should be given at the rates of the Centre. "Provide vaccine availability action plan to the states for operating vaccination campaign for the age group above 18 years soon. Producing states should not obstruct supply of life saving medicines," Baghel had said which is mentioned in the statement issued by the state government. CBI books, raids, detains ex-Maha HM Deshmukh Serum Institute defends India sees record 346,786 Covid vaccine pricing Covid cases; 2,624 deaths AGENCIES Centre-procured vaccine to be given free to states rate has further dropped to 83.49 per cent. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease rose to 1,38,67,997, while the case fatality rate has dropped to 1.14 per cent, the data stated. India crossed the grim milestone of a total of 1.50 crore COVID-19 on April 19 this year. The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) constituent NCP National Spokesperson Nawab Malik and Minister Hasan Mushrif, besides Congress Spokesperson Dr. Raju Waghmare termed the action as "politically motivated" and "misuse of central agencies" to target and malign the state government's image. Following the fast-paced developments, Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil was closeted in a meeting with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, details of which are awaited. The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party state President Chandrakant Patil and others welcomed the CBI action and demanded a probe against other MVA leaders including Transport Minister Anil Parab and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut. The movements came after the Bombay High Court ordered a preliminary enquiry on April 5 by the CBI into the accusations of corruption and misuse of office against Deshmukh and submit its report within 15 days. Army rescues 2 abducted ONGC staff AGENCIES NEW DELHI: The Indian Army along with Assam Rifles troops has rescued Oil and Natural Gas Corporation's (ONGC) two abductees from the outlawed group, United Liberation Front of AsomIndependent (ULFA-I) in Assam on Friday late night. "Operations are still in progress," said Indian Army. The banned group ULFA-I has still one ONGC employee in their clutches. Three employees of the ONGC were on April 21 kidnapped by suspected ULFA-I militants from its Lakwa oilfield in Assam's Sivasagar district along the AssamNagaland border.