New Delhi: With 1.35 crore total Covid-19 cases so far, India has now overtaken Brazil to be the world’s second most infected country. On top is the United States, with 3.11 crore total cases over the past year, while Brazil is number three, with 1.34 crore cases. India ranks the fourth in global deaths, after the US, Brazil and Mexico. According to estimates by Johns Hopkins University, India’s Covid tally is set to double in two months.
On Monday, the Subject Expert Committee of the Drugs Controller General of India approved Dr Reddy’s application for emergency use authorisation to Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. The Sputnik V vaccine has been developed by the Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology of Russia and is marketed by Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). The RDIF has signed up with Indian pharma companies to produce around 750 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine. This is the third vaccine approved by the Indian government for use on its population, and the entry of Sputnik V is likely to address the present shortage of vaccines in the country.
Russia’s ambassador to India Nikolay R. Kudashev said: “We note the reports that a committee of experts recommended Sputnik V for use in India. This step would definitely contribute to the efforts of the Indian government to counter the Covid-19 pandemic. We hope the approval by the DCGI will be completed soon.”
In the last 24 hours, 1.69 lakh fresh cases of Covid-19 were detected in India along with 904 deaths. The total number of cases with the South African, UK and Brazil variants of Covid virus in the country is now 948.
A huge volume of the caseload is in Maharashtra, followed by Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Karnataka. In UP, the ongoing Kumbh Mela has contributed immensely to rising cases, where lakhs were seen crowding and taking a dip in the Ganga waters without wearing masks or observing social distancing. By Monday evening, over 21 lakh people had taken a dip in the Ganga waters. The local police said it was not possible to enforce compliance of the social distancing norms in this crowd as it might lead to a stampede. Uttar Pradesh on Monday reported 13,685 new Covid-19 cases.
In view of the rising Covid cases, the civil aviation ministry has asked all airlines not to serve meals in flights shorter than two hours and use only disposable cutlery.
The Maharashtra government, meanwhile, announced postponement of exams for Classes 10 and 12, while the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education has decided to promote students of Class 6 and 7. “Given the current Covid-19 situation in Maharashtra, we have postponed state board exams for Class 10 and 12. The Class 12 exams will be held by end of May, while the Class 10 exams will be held in June. Fresh dates will be announced accordingly. We will also be writing to the CBSE, ICSE, IB and Cambridge boards, requesting them to reconsider the exams dates,” said Maharashtra education minister Varsha Gaikwad.
The state is planning a stricter lockdown to contain the rising cases. Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting with the task force to discuss the issue. The task force has suggested that patients with less severe infections should be kept in home isolation to reduce the burden on hospitals. Maharashtra Youth Congress chief Satyajeet Tambe Patil said the state was facing a shortage of oxygen in some parts and demanded that oxygen kept for industrial use should also be allocated for health purposes.
At the Maharashtra government’s request, the Railways have turned 21 coaches into isolation wards and sent them to Nandurbar. Each coach has 16 beds. The state is facing a huge shortage of Remdesivir injections.