Coronavirus updates | April 22, 2021

A COVID-19 patient with an oxygen cylinder waits outside LNJP hospital for admission in New Delhi on April 22, 2021.   | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

A day after intense drama over oxygen shortage in several private and government hospitals in Delhi for COVID-19 patients, the Centre raised the national capital's oxygen quota from 378 metric tonnes to 480 metric tonnes.

The Centre announced that it will supply 480 metric tonnes of oxygen to Delhi, which will come from Odisha, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, the city government said in a statement.

Meanwhile, with more than 3.14 lakh cases, India has recorded world’s highest single-day spike on April 21, 2021

You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.

Here are the latest updates:


UAE bans travel from India

The UAE has banned travel from India for 10 days starting Sunday due to the worsening COVID-19 situation in the country, according to media reports in Dubai today.

The travel ban will come into effect from 11.59 p.m. on Saturday, April 24, and is subject to review after 10 days.

Passengers who have transited through India in the last 14 days are also not permitted to board from any other point to the U.A.E, the report said. However, departure flights will continue to operate.


Pondicherry varsity to remain shut from April 23 to 27 after staff test positive

Pondicherry University will remain closed from April 23 to 27 after a section of staff and faculty tested positive for Covid-19.

A release from the Registrar in charge of the University said that some of the students had also been found to be infected by the virus at the end of examination of samples.

As a precautionary measure to prevent spread of the scourge, the University would remain closed till April 27 from Friday.

All the students staying in hostels were asked to vacate and return home.

New Delhi

CSR funds can be spent on temporary COVID facilities

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs clarified that businesses can spend their mandatory corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds on setting up makeshift hospitals and temporary COVID care facilities.

Last March, the Ministry had said that spending CSR funds for COVID-19 related work was permitted under the law that mandates all companies with a net worth of Rs 500 crore or more, a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or more, or net profit of Rs 5 crore or more, to spend 2% of their average profits of the previous three years on CSR activities annually.

In a circular issued today, the Ministry said that companies may undertake building of temporary hospitals and COVID care facilities in consultation with State governments. The Companies Act of 2013 permits spending on promotion of health care, including preventive health care and disaster management, the ministry pointed out. - Vikas Dhoot

New Delhi

Centre advises all its staff to get themselves vaccinated

The Centre has asked all its employees to get themselves vaccinated so as to effectively contain the spread of COVID-19, a Personnel Ministry order said.

It said the government has been monitoring the situation very closely, and it has been decided to vaccinate all the citizens who have attained the age of 18 years and above.

Accordingly, “all central government employees are advised to get themselves vaccinated so as to effectively contain the spread of COVID- 19. Further, they may continue to follow COVID protocols, even after vaccination”, said the order issued to all the central government departments.

There are estimated 48.34 lakh central government employees, according to an official data.

The Personnel Ministry had earlier this month asked all central government employees of the age of 45 years and above to get themselves vaccinated. - PTI


Closely monitoring oxygen supply, other States being given stock as per quota, says Haryana CM

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said that he was closely monitoring oxygen supply and pointed out that the systems put in place were working well and other States too were being given stock as per the quota fixed by the Centre.

Mr. Khattar, who was responding to questions on the COVID situation and availability of liquid medical oxygen supply, said the State has been in touch with the Centre and has briefed officials in this regard.

The Chief Minister also said that as per the quota fixed by the Centre, 140 metric ton (MT) oxygen per day was being supplied to the national capital and added that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called him up in this regard and said their position was better now.


Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala supplies 1,210 kg liquid oxygen to Amritsar hospital

The Rail Coach Factory (RCF) in Kapurthala supplied 1,210 kg liquid oxygen to a hospital in Amritsar in view of its increasing demand for treatment of COVID-19 patients, officials said.

The RCF, a coach manufacturing unit of the Railways, sent the liquid oxygen to the Guru Nanak Dev Hospital in Amritsar through a gas supply firm, its public relation officer said.

He said the move will have some impact on the RCF's coach production, but it will help in dealing with emergency needs of COVID-19 patients.


Haryana's Fortis Hospital flags depleting oxygen levels

Even as hospitals in Delhi grapple with the short supply of liquid oxygen, Fortis Hospital in Haryana’s Gurugram in a series of distress messages on Thursday evening said that it was left with only 45 minutes of the oxygen supply.

Tagging Home Minister Amit Shah and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal among others, the hospital authorities in a tweet said: “Fortis Hospital in #Haryana has only 45 minutes of oxygen left. Requesting @ashokgehlot51@rajnathsingh, @PiyushGoyalOffc, @mlkhattar and @AmitShah to act immediately and help us to save patients’ lives (sic)”. The tweet further said it was an “#SOS call from Fortis to allow oxygen tanker from Bhiwadi to reach our hospital #ASAP.

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New Delhi

Prime Minister cancels West Bengal rallies

Prime Minister Narendra Modi cancelled his election rallies for Friday, looking at the exponential rise in COVID19 cases in the country which topped 3,15,000 cases on Thursday.

Tweeting his decision, Prime Minister Modi said, “Tomorrow, will be chairing high-level meetings to review the prevailing COVID-19 situation. Due to that, I would not be going to West Bengal”. He was scheduled to address four meetings including one at Shaheed Minar grounds in Kolkata. 

It’s not clear at the moment whether the suspension of campaign is only for Friday’s meetings or the rest of the campaign time for the last two phases of the West Bengal Assembly polls. - Nistula Hebbar

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New Delhi

Six Delhi hospitals run out of oxygen, Health Minister tells Centre

At least six Delhi hospitals have run out of liquid medical oxygen, as per a letter written by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.

Mr. Sisodia urged the Union Minister to intervene to save the lives of people of Delhi and make sure that Delhi gets its quota of oxygen from other states. 

He said that Delhi was not getting the full quota of oxygen from a plant in Haryana as district officials were stopping trucks coming from Delhi to get the liquid medical oxygen. - Nikhil M Babu


Goa to provide free vaccine to 18-45 age group

The Goa government will inoculate those between the ages of 18 to 45 against coronavirus free of cost.

The state will be procuring five lakh doses of Covishield vaccine initially, it said. State Additional Secretary (Health) Vikas Gaunekar informed the Directorate of Health Services about the decision in a letter.


IndiGo to temporarily suspend flights on Kolkata-Shillong route from Apr 23

Private carrier IndiGo will suspend its daily flights between Kolkata and Shillong for eight days, starting from Friday, airport officials said.

The reason for the suspension of operations by the airline was not cited but sources in the Shillong Airport authority said the decision was taken in view of the COVID-19 situation.


Reconsider policy of not vaccinating at home, Bombay High Court tells Centre

The Bombay High Court asked the Union Government to reconsider its stand that door- to-door COVID-19 vaccination was not feasible, saying it must consider the plight of old people and the disabled.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni said the government cannot just "leave old people to die".

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had on Wednesday informed the court that door-to-door vaccination was not possible due to various reasons including the possibility of contamination and wastage of vaccine.


Railways to limit entry/exit points at stations in Mumbai

The Railways will limit the number of entry and exit points at stations in Mumbai to prevent unauthorised people from travelling in local trains, as the Maharashtra government's new COVID-19 curbs come into force from today night, an official said.

As per the guidelines under the State Government's "Break the Chain" order, only government servants, medical personnel, people requiring medical treatment and specially- abled persons will be permitted to travel in local trains starting 8 p.m. on Thursday till 7 a.m. on May 1.

According to officials, even train tickets and passes will be issued only to those whom the State Government has authorised to travel in local trains.


Registration for COVID vaccination on CoWIN for those above 18 to begin from Apr 28

Registration for vaccination against COVID-19 for all those aged above 18 will begin on the CoWIN platform and Aarogya Setu app from April 28, officials said on Thursday.  The inoculation process and documents to be submitted to get the jab remains the same.

The central government had announced that the vaccination for those above 18 years will begin across the country from May 1 as part of the third phase of the inoculation drive.

Certain modifications, including the age criteria and a few other features, have been done and the CoWIN platform is ready to meet the rising demand as is expected once the vaccination for all is opened up, an official said. From May 1, the present system of private COVID-19 vaccination centres receiving doses from the government and charging up to ₹ 250 per dose will cease to exist and private hospitals will procure directly from vaccine manufacturers. - PTI


Centre has allocated just 26,000 Remdesivir vials for Maharashtra instead of 50,000,’ says Health Minister

In yet another chapter to the Centre-State blame game over the supply of Remdesivir and oxygen, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that the State, the worst-hit in the country, had been allocated barely 26,000 injections of Remdesivir by the Centre as against its requirement of 50,000 vials daily. 

Speaking in Mumbai, Mr. Tope said he would write to the Centre to increase the allocation of Remdesivir to Maharashtra. 

"The State government's daily requirement is 50,000 Remdesivir injections, but the Centre's allocation for the next ten days is just 26,000 injections per day. I appeal to the Centre to allot more injections to Maharashtra as the situation here is grave. I will be writing to the Union Health Ministry in this regard,” he said.  

The Centre on Wednesday had detailed an allocation of 2.69 lakh vials for Maharashtra till the end of this month. This translates into less than 30,000 vials per day. - Shoumojit Banerjee


Exams of Class 10 exams cancelled, Class 12 suspended in Chhatisgarh

The Chhattisgarh Board of Secondary Education (CGBSE) cancelled its Class 10 examinations this year in view of the prevailing COVID-19 situation in the State and safety of students, authorities said.

The board also suspended its Class 12 examinations scheduled to commence from May 3, and a fresh time-table will be released once the COVID-19 situation improves, they said.


BJP MLA slams Serum Institute of India over vaccine pricing, calls its CEO Adar Poonawalla 'dacoit'

Upset over coronavirus vaccine pricing by the Serum Institute of India (SII), a BJP MLA has compared its CEO Adar Poonawalla with a "dacoit" and asked the government to "acquire" the company under the Epidemic Diseases Act.

Gorakhpur MLA Radha Mohan Das Agrawal made the remarks after SII on Wednesday announced a price of Rs 600 per dose for Covishield supplies to private hospitals and Rs 400 per dose to State Governments.


PM holds high-level meeting on oxygen supply

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is holding a high-level meeting on oxygen supply and availability across India. Officials have briefed him on efforts undertaken to improve oxygen supply. The Prime Minister has called for increasing production and speed of distribution.

He also called for using innovative ways to provide oxygen support to health facilities.

"Ensure oxygen supply to states in smooth, unhindered manner... Fix responsibility with local administration in cases of obstruction," he told officials.

Mr. Modi also asked the States to come down heavily on hoarding of oxygen.

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New Delhi

Centre prohibits oxygen for industrial use

The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued order under Disaster Management Act to prohibit supply of Oxygen for industrial purposes. The order said inter-State movement of Oxygen vehicles cannot be stopped.

Oxygen suppliers cannot be restricted to supply Oxygen only in the State where the plant is located.

District Magistrates/ Senior Superintendent of Police/deputy commissioner of police will be personally made liable if instructions are not implemented. - Vijaita Singh


Shops in Haryana to remain close after 6 p.m. from April 23

Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij said that from April 23 (Friday) all shops in the state will remain closed from 6 p.m. onwards.  

The State government has also decided to change the academic calendar of the session 2021-22 for the schools. According to an official statement, summer vacations in all the government schools, as well as private schools, have been declared with effect from April 22 to May 31. - Vikas Vasudeva


Pfizer in vaccine supply talks with India

Pfizer is in discussions with India and committed to make its COVID-19 vaccine available for deployment in the country, the U.S. drugmaker said on Thursday.

The company said it had offered India a not-for-profit price for its vaccine for the government's immunisation programme. - Reuters


Australia to cut flights from India to contain virus risk

Australia will reduce the number of its citizens able to return from India and other red-zone countries to contain the risk of more virulent strains of COVID-19 spreading, the government said on Thursday as it announced changes in its vaccination program.

The restrictions will result in a 30% reduction in direct flights from India to Sydney and chartered flights that land in the Northern Territory.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, speaking to reporters after a meeting of the National Cabinet, said that he would announce in the next 24 hours when the new restrictions would come into place.

"We're in the middle of a global pandemic that is raging. And Australia has been successful throughout this pandemic ... to have very effective border arrangements," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. "There will continue to be the opportunity for those to return from places like India but in very controlled circumstances."  - Reuters


Vaccine policy discriminatory: Sonia Gandhi to PM

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the new COVID-19 vaccine policy, terming it as arbitrary and discriminatory and urged him to intervene immediately to reverse it.

In a letter to to the Prime Minister, the Congress chief alleged that the new vaccine policy implies that the central government has abdicated its responsibility of providing free vaccine to all Indians between 18 and 45 years of age.

"It is surprising that despite the harsh lessons of last year and the pain inflicted on our citizens, the Government continues to follow an arbitrary and discriminatory policy, which promises to exacerbate existing challenges," she said in her letter.

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SC wants national plan on COVID-19 situation, including on oxygen supply

As the country grapples with the current wave of COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court on Thursday took suo motu cognisance of the prevailing grim situation and said it wanted a “national plan” on issues, including supply of oxygen and essential drugs for treatment of patients infected with the virus.

A Bench headed by Chief S.A. Bobde said it would also consider the issue pertaining to method and manner of COVID-19 vaccination in the country.

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500 doctors, health workers of Bihar's 2 leading hospitals infected

More than 500 doctors and health workers of the two leading hospitals in Patna — AIIMS and Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) — have been infected with coronavirus during the ongoing second wave, sources said.

Altogether, 384 employees of AIIMS Patna, including doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, have been infected during the second wave so far, its Medical Superintendent C.M. Singh said.

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Karnataka asks Centre for 1,500 tonnes of oxygen, one lakh vials of Remdesivir

Karnataka has asked the Centre to supply 1,500 metric tonnes of oxygen and one lakh vials of Remdesivir in view of the growing COVID cases in the State.

"We have estimated that in the next one month, we may require 1,500 metric tonnes of oxygen. In this regard, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has written to Union Minister for Railways, Commerce and Industries Piyush Goyal," State Health Minister Dr. K Sudhakar told reporters here on Thursday.

Mr. Sudhakar said that he has written to the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan as well for supply of oxygen.

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Making efforts to airlift oxygen from Odisha: Arvind Kejriwal

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday appealed to his counterparts in other States to come together to confront and defeat COVID-19 instead of allowing borders to divide their response to the pandemic.

Addressing a digital briefing, the Delhi Chief Minister also pledged to provide resources such as oxygen, essential medicines and medical personnel, including doctors, to other States as and when these were in a position of being shared.

“I want to thank the Centre and the Delhi High Court for helping us with this issue. I, Delhi’s ministers and officers have not slept for several nights and were in constant touch with the Centre over the issue of oxygen supply which has helped us,” he said.

“But the increased supply will take some time and we are mulling airlifting oxygen from Odisha. In the meantime, I am personally ensuring that every truck with oxygen reaches its destination. Like I had promised, these six days are being utilised to ramp up our medical infrastructure as much as possible round the clock,” he also said.

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In Delhi, over 1,000 last rites performed in 3 days

Over a thousand residents, 1,057 to be precise, were laid to rest after losing their battle to COVID-19 in the last three days, according to official data maintained by the Capital’s three civic bodies.

A daily average of around 352 deaths, compiled data from the three municipal corporations released by the BJP posited, was recorded between April 18 and April 20 at 21 crematoria and burial grounds located in the nine municipal zones in the city.

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Sitaram Yechury’s son Ashish passes away due to COVID-19

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury’s eldest son Ashish Yechury passed away due to COVID-19 infection early on Thursday morning.

He was 35-year-old. He had been in ICU since April 12 after the infection spread to his lungs.

“It is with great sadness that I have to inform that I lost my elder son, Ashish Yechury, to COVID-19 this morning. I want to thank all those who gave us hope and who treated him — doctors, nurses, frontline health workers, sanitation workers and innumerable others who stood by us,” Mr. Yechury tweeted, making the announcement.

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Britain’s Heathrow Airport refuses to allow extra flights from India

Britain's Heathrow Airport has refused to allow extra flights from India before it is added on Friday to the UK's COVID-19 travel "red list", which imposes a ban on entry to the country for all except British or Irish residents.

The request for extra flights from airlines was turned down because of concerns about queues at passport control, the BBC reported on Thursday.

Four carriers had requested to operate an additional eight flights from India as travellers seek to fly before the new rule comes into effect. Currently, 30 flights a week are operating between the UK and India.

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