11 states, UTs of ‘grave concern’ to take strict action

New Delhi

Eleven states and Union Territories, marked as “states of grave concern” because of their rising daily Covid-19 cases, have not shown a commensurate rise in enforcement of containment activities, the Centre said on Friday.

Chairing a high-level review meeting with chief secretaries, Directors General of Police and health secretaries of all states and UTs, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba asked these states to take strict action to contain the contagion.

According to the health ministry, the 11 states of grave concern are Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Haryana.

They have contributed 90% of Covid cases, 90.5% of deaths in 14 days till March 31, and have crossed or close to crossing their early reported peaks last year, it said.

Use of the Police Act, Disaster Management Act and other legal and administrative provisions for imposing penalties on defaulters were underscored at the meeting for immediate compliance by the states. Another worrisome aspect pointed out was tier two and tier three cities along with peri-urban areas have recorded the recent rises in Covid cases and that the spread of infection from these areas to the rural areas with weak health infrastructure would overwhelm the local administration.

Taking note of the present situation due to deterioration of the Covid scenario over the fortnight, the cabinet secretary pointed out the case growth rate of 6.8% in March 2021 has surpassed the previous record of 5.5% in June last year. The country also reported a 5.5% growth rate in daily Covid deaths in this period, the health ministry said. NITI Aayog member (Health) VK Paul stressed the states follow a protocol to share clinical and epidemiological data for a more detailed study of a mutant strain of the virus for genome sequencing.

Containment in new MHA guidelines: In the new guidelines issued with effect from April 1 for effective control of Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Home Affairs has ordered enforcement of “Test-Track-Treat” protocol.

It requires isolation of all new positive cases and tracing of their contacts at the earliests for their isolation/quarantine. It mandates the prescribed containment measures to be implemented in the containment zone.

Covid-19 2nd wave in India may peak by mid-April

Scientists have predicted using a mathematical model that the ongoing second-wave of Covid-19 pandemic across the country could peak by mid-April, following which the infections may see a steep decline by the end of May. During the first wave of Covid-19 infections across India, the mathematical approach, named SUTRA, predicted the initial surge of infections in August would peak by September and lower in February 2021.

Scientists, including Manindra Agrawal from IIT Kanpur, applied the model to predict the trajectory of the current surge in infections and found the number of daily infections is likely to peak in mid-April for this ongoing pandemic wave. “For the last several days, we have found there is a reasonable chance the cases in India could peak sometime between 15-20 April. It is a sharp slope, but on the way down, it would likely be equally sharp, coming down very fast and by end of May may see a dramatic reduction,” Agrawal said, adding, “There is some uncertainty in predicting the peak value of daily new infections because of the sharp rise. Currently, it is coming to 1 lakh infections per day, but this can go up or down. But the timing remains the same between April 15-20.”

UP 2nd pandemic: Schools shut till April 11

With no let up in coronavirus cases in Uttar Pradesh, the Yogi Adityanath government has declared closed all government and private primary and secondary schools up to Class VIII till April 11.

A decision to this effect was taken by CM Yogi Aditya­nath after holding a high-level meeting of Team-11, a core group formed in March 2020 to deal with Covid-19 pandemic, on Friday.

Govt’s expert panel OKs clinical trials for 3rd Covaxin shot

The expert panel of India’s drug regulator, DCGI, has permitted Bharat Bio­tech to give a third dose of Covaxin to a few volunteers in its clinical trials of the Covid-19 vaccine, sources said. Bharat Biotech presented amendments to the subject expert committee of the Drugs Controller General of India in the approved Phase 2 clinical trial protocol for administration of booster dose six months after second dose. “The firm presented amendments in the approved Phase 2 clinical trial protocol for administration of booster dose after six months after second dose. After detailed deliberation, the committee recommended the firm should conduct the booster dose study only in 6 mcg cohort and also should follow up the subjects at least for six months after the third dose,” the SEC said.

4th Covid wave in Delhi; no plans of lockdown: CM

Delhi is encountering the fourth wave of Covid-19 infection but imposition of a lockdown is not being considered yet, CM Arvind Kejriwal said on Friday and urged the Centre to allow states to undertake mass vaccination.

If there is a need for a lockdown in the future, a decision will be taken after due public consultation, he said, adding the fourth wave is less serious than the previous ones as there are fewer deaths and hospitalisations this time. The CM, however, added, “It’s a matter of concern since Covid-19 cases are rising exponentially. But there is no need to panic. The government is monitoring the situation and taking all necessary steps.”

Virus Tidbits

-- Rajasthan CM expresses concern over infection spread in second wave

-- UP cop tests positive weeks after second vaccine shot

-- Health official suspended for giving Covid vaccine to K'taka Minister at home

-- India vaccinates 36.7 lakh beneficiaries on April 1

Fresh curbs in Karnataka

Bengaluru: Alarmed over the possibility of a second wave of Covid-19, the Karnataka government on Friday introduced fresh regulations. These included the clo­sure of gyms and swimming pools and a red­uc­tion in the seating capacity of pubs, bars and theatres to 50%. Gyms and swimming pools shall remain closed and rallies, dharnas and public gatherings have been prohibited.

In places of worship, individuals are permitted to visit and offer prayers only. There shall be no gatherings, functions. In apartment complexes, the common facilities like gyms, party halls, club houses, swimming pools shall remain closed. Physical classes for students from Class VI to IX have been suspended and Classes X, XI and XII can continue in the existing mode.

However, attending these classes in person is not mandatory. Classes of higher and professional courses shall be suspended, except classes due for the board or university exams and of health sciences will continue.

The number of customers in pubs, bars, clubs, restaurants has been pegged at not more than 50% of the capacity and if they do not follow proper norms like ensuring wearing of masks and physical distancing, the facility shall be closed till the pandemic subsides. Shopping malls, closed markets, departmental stores have been directed to ensure strict enforcement of norms, failing which the premises will be sealed till the end of the pandemic.

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