The deadly COVID wave claimed a record 3,689 more lives and active cases crossed the 33-lakh mark in India as Haryana and Odisha joined several other states that have been forced to reimpose lockdown or similar curbs in a desperate bid to check the surge amid a grievous shortage of hospital beds, medicines and oxygen for patients. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed various measures to augment human resources for effective management of the COVID-19 situation and possible steps discussed include incentivising students and pass-outs of medical and nursing courses to join the pandemic duty, sources said.
Global Support, Oppn Parties Unite amid Covid Crisis
International assistance continued to pour in with France, Taiwan, Uzbekistan and Belgium delivering medical supplies, including oxygen plants and medicines. Leaders of 13 opposition parties urged the Centre to launch a free mass vaccination drive across the country. In a joint statement, they also called upon the Centre to ensure uninterrupted oxygen supply to all hospitals and health centres as they manage the staggering patient load. The signatories include Congress president Sonia Gandhi, JDS leader and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee.
Surging Cases and Vaccines
A total of 86,023 beneficiaries in the age group of 18-44 years received their first dose of COVID vaccine across 11 states on May 1 when the phase 3 commenced, the Union Health Ministry said.
The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed 15.68 crore. The infection count climbed to 1,95,57,457 with 3,92,488 more people being confirmed positive for the disease. States like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal recorded their highest daily rise in cases on Sunday.
“From May 3, there will be a 7-day long lockdown in the entire state,” Haryana’s Home and Health Minister Anil Vij said in a tweet on Sunday. Earlier, a weekend curfew was enforced in nine districts on Friday. In a video message, Odisha Chief Secretary SC Mahapatra said a 14-day lockdown will be imposed in the entire state from May 5 till May 19.
“Even though nobody wanted this strict enforcement, the government has imposed lockdown to protect people and their lives from the pandemic,” Mahapatra said. The state registered 8,015 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the tally to 4,62,622, while 14 fresh fatalities raised the toll to 2,068, health department official said.
The situation remained grim in the national capital where Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had extended the ongoing lockdown, which was to conclude at 5 AM on May 3, by another week.
A number of other states have imposed strict curbs, weekend shutdowns, partial lockdowns and night curfews including the worst-hit Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and Kerala. Normal life remained affected in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday with the imposition of the 84-hour lockdown from Thursday-Friday.
The UT on Saturday recorded its biggest single-day spike of 3,832 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking the infection tally to 1,79,915, while a record 47 fatalities in the 24-hour-period raised the pandemic toll to 2,330, officials said. Jharkhand and Rajasthan extended their lockdown last week, while Karnataka imposed a lockdown from the night of April 27 till May 12. The southern state has over four lakh active cases.
In Goa, the government said COVID-19-induced restrictions will remain in force in Goa till May 10 during which various commercial establishments will remain closed while political and social gatherings will be banned Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said,”The lockdown in the state will be lifted tomorrow 6 am onwards but the COVID-19 related restrictions will continue to be in force for a week to ensure that the spread of the virus is controlled.” As of May 1, Goa’s case tally stood at 93,355 while the death toll is 1,222, as per a health official. The Mizoram government had on Saturday announced an eight-day lockdown in Aizawl and other district headquarters town from May 3.
The state had reported 112 COVID-19 cases, taking the state’s tally to 6,131. The state currently has 1,131 active COVID-19 cases. According to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday morning, the active cases have increased to 33,49,644, comprising 17.13 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has further dropped to 81.77 per cent. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1, 59,92,271, while the case fatality rate has further dropped to 1.10 per cent, the data stated.
Delhi’s Oxygen Crisis
Despite the courts stepping in and assurances by Delhi government and the Centre on the oxygen crisis, some hospitals said it has become a “daily fire-fight” for them to arrange continuous supply of medical oxygen.
On Sunday afternoon, the second ‘Oxygen Express’ for Delhi arrived here on with 120 tonnes of liquid medical oxygen and a third such train has begun its journey for the national capital from Angul in Odisha, the railway ministry said. However, during the day, some hospitals sent out desperate SOS calls to authorities to replenish their dwindling stocks.
Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital in Malviya Nagar sounded an alarm about their depleting stocks around noon, saying 50 people, including four newborns, were “at risk”. “It has become a daily fire-fight in the absence of a continuous supply. We require around 125 oxygen cylinders a day,” an official said.
Aakash Healthcare in Dwarka appealed to government authorities to shift patients to other facilities so that they can be saved. Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research also took to social media seeking help from authorities. It could not be ascertained if the facility received a refill.
The Delhi government has been demanding 976 metric tonnes of oxygen from the Centre. On Saturday, the Central government raised the city’s daily oxygen quota to 590 MT from 490 MT. At a high-level review meeting on the COVID-19 situation here, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba expressed anguish over issues related to availability of oxygen and asked the Delhi government to make every effort to lift their allocated oxygen by using all means.
Covid Action Plan
Lt Governor Anil Baijal directed top officers of the Delhi government to prepare a detailed action plan to address the shortage of the life-saving gas. The city recorded 407 COVID-19 deaths and over 20,000 cases with positivity rate of 28.33 per cent.