01 May 2021
A) Citing supply issues, several States defer COVID-19 vaccination for people above 18.
The several States including Delhi, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have deferred the third phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive, which is scheduled to be rolled out for all adults from May 1. Punjab, Gujarat, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to have flagged a shortage of vaccine. Delhi Chief Minister on Friday said all citizens would be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the next three months, but appealed to citizens against queuing up outside vaccination centres in the Capital from Saturday. Our intent is to ensure that all the citizens of Delhi are vaccinated against COVID in the next 3 months. We are yet to receive vaccine shots to be administered and are in touch with the company manufacturing it; we should start receiving it over two to three days, Mr. Kejriwal said during a digital briefing. Karnataka’s Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar too made a similar appeal. They have placed orders for one crore doses of vaccine and the manufacturers are yet to officially give us confirmation as to when they will be able to deliver. Till we intimate you, please do not visit hospitals although you have enrolled on the CoWIN portal, the Minister said. The State has an estimated 3.5 crore people in this category. Tamil Nadu had placed an order of 1.5 crore doses of vaccine, which is yet to arrive. State Health Secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan told reporters: instead of waiting till tomorrow (and disappoint people), he wish to clarify (now) that we are unsure when and how much out of 1.5 crore doses of vaccine sought by Tamil Nadu, will arrive. The Arunachal Pradesh government has officially deferred the roll-out of the COVID-19 inoculation drive for those in the 18-44 years age group until further orders citing technical issues. The Jammu and Kashmir administration said the new date for vaccination drive will be announced once the supply is established. Similarly, a senior official of Telangana health department said though the state government is in touch with vaccine manufacturers, there is no certainty on when the stocks would be available for the mass vaccination. In Andhra Pradesh too, according to a senior official in the government, inoculation may not start on May 1 in the state as planned due to delay in procurement of vaccine from manufacturers.
B) Clampdown on citizens seeking COVID-19 help on Internet will be treated as contempt of court: SC.
The Supreme Court on Friday warned State governments and police against clamping down on the spread of information or calls for help through social media from citizens affected by COVID-19. The observation was made during a suo moto hearing in which the court had taken cognizance on issues related to oxygen supply, drug supply, and vaccine policy in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, said there should not be any clampdown on information. A Special Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat said any move by any State to punish citizens who take to the social media to seek help for oxygen cylinders, COVID-19 drugs, beds, hospitalisation, etc, amid a rampaging second wave would attract contempt of court action. Justice Chandrachud said free flow of information in the 1970 famine enabled the government to tackle problem effectively as compared to clampdown during the 1918 pandemic. Justice Rao reminded the States that this was a time of great crisis. The Bench said empathy and action should be the rule of the day. At one point, Justice Chandrachud questioned how the Centre intended to ensure registration for vaccines for illiterate people considering the fact that the COWIN app registration was mandatory. The Bench also asked how the Centre expected a sense of equity from the vaccine manufacturers. Justice Bhat pointed out that manufacturers were charging ₹150 from the Centre while vaccines to the States were priced at ₹300.
C) Facebook to roll out vaccine finder tool on a mobile app in India.
Facebook on Friday said it is partnering with the Indian government to roll out a vaccine finder tool on its mobile app in India, which will help people identify places nearby to get inoculated. The social media giant had, earlier this week, announced a $10 million grant for emergency response efforts for COVID-19 situation in the country. Partnering with the Government of India, Facebook will begin rolling out its Vaccine Finder tool on the Facebook mobile app in India available in 17 languages to help people identify places nearby to get the vaccine, Facebook said in a post on the platform. In this tool, vaccine centre locations and their hours of operation have been provided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed 15.22 crore. Also, more than 2.45 crore people have registered themselves on the Co-WIN digital platform ahead of Phase-3 of the COVID-19 vaccination for those above 18 years that is set to start from May 1. Facebook said its tool will also show walk-in options (for 46 years and above) and a link to register on the Co-Win website and schedule vaccination appointment.
D) COVID cases may peak next week, according to a government advisor.
India’s coronavirus cases may peak between May 3-5, according to a mathematical model of a team of scientists advising the government, a few days earlier than a previous estimate as the virus has spread faster than expected. Their belief is that by next week, the daily new cases nationwide would have peaked, M. Vidyasagar, head of a government-appointed group of scientists modelling the trajectory of infections, told Reuters. The group previously told senior government officials in a presentation on April 2 that cases would peak between May 5-10, said Mr. Vidyasagar. They said (at that presentation) that it was not a matter of putting up some structures that would come up in July or August, because by then the wave will have ended, he said. Try to figure out how we’re going to fight the fight for the next four to six weeks, that was the message. Don’t waste a lot of time putting up long-term solutions because your problem is right now. The real number of infections is believed to be 50 times more, said Mr. Vidyasagar, as many people who contract the disease show no symptoms.
E) Modi tells Ministers to address local issues, gather feedback.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday asked Ministers to reach out to people in their respective regions to help them and gather feedback regarding the ongoing second wave of COVID-19 in the country. The Council of Ministers met via video conferencing to discuss the second wave, terming the current crisis a once in a century crisis, a government statement said. PM Narendra Modi said that all arms of the government are working unitedly and rapidly to deal with the situation. He also urged the Ministers to stay in touch with people of their respective regions, help them and keep getting their feedback. He stressed upon the need to ensure that issues at the local level are promptly identified and addressed, the statement read. The Ministers reviewed the efforts made by the Central and state governments over the past 14 months, it said. The Council of Ministers also stressed the importance of COVID appropriate behaviour– wearing a mask, keeping physical distance of 6 feet and washing hands frequently. The Council reiterated that the participation of society is a key aspect to accomplish the gigantic task ahead and expressed confidence that the country will rise to the occasion and defeat the virus, the government said.
F) West Bengal government announces partial shutdown.
The West Bengal government has announced a partial shutdown amid the massive surge in coronavirus cases. The state on Thursday logged its highest ever count of 17,403 fresh cases. Shopping complexes, beauty parlours, cinema halls, sports facilities and spas will remain shut, markets will be allowed to function for only five hours every day – 7-10 am and 3-5 pm. Restaurants, bars, gyms and swimming pools will remain shut, the state government said, adding home deliveries and other online services will be permitted. Counting for the eight-phased Assembly elections will take place on May 2. The state government has said all anti-Covid rules will have to be followed at the counting centres.
A) Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan seek to ease cross-border tensions.
A ceasefire on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan largely held on Friday following a day of intense fighting between the two ex-Soviet Central Asian neighbours that killed 39 people and wounded more than 175. More than 7,000 Kyrgyz residents have been evacuated from the area engulfed by the fighting as troops from the two countries exchanged gunfire around a water supply facility near the village of KokTash, located in western Kyrgyzstan on the border with Tajikistan. Both nations have claimed the area around the water supply facility in KokTash, a dispute dating back decades to when they were both part of the Soviet Union. Kyrgyz officials reported firing on the border early on Friday but later said the truce was being observed. Kyrgyzstan’s Deputy Health Minister, Jalalidin Rakhmatullayev, told the Interfax news agency that 31 people died and 154 others were injured in the clashes, which marked the worst outbreak of hostilities between the two countries since they gained independence in the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Local officials in Tajikistan’s city of Isfara reported eight dead and over 30 wounded. A large part of the TajikKyrgyz border remains unmarked, fuelling fierce disputes over water, land and pastures. The latest conflict erupted on Wednesday when Tajik officials attempted to mount surveillance cameras to monitor the water supply facility amid the tensions over water distribution, and Kyrgyz residents opposed the move. Both sides began hurling stones at each other and troops quickly entered the fray.
A) 45 dead in Israel pilgrimage stampede.
A massive stampede at a densely packed Jewish pilgrimage site killed at least 45 people in Israel on Friday, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised an investigation into one of the nation’s worst disasters. The nighttime carnage struck after pilgrims thronged to Meron at the site of the reputed tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a second century Talmudic sage, where mainly ultra-Orthodox Jews, or haredim, mark the Lag Baomer holiday. The Health Ministry put the death toll at 45. The Magen David Adom rescue agency said an estimated 150 had been injured. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was helicoptered in to the scene in Israel’s far north, said the Mount Meron disaster was one of the worst to befall the country since its foundation seven decades ago. What happened here is heartbreaking. There were people crushed to death, including children, he said in a tweet. He promised a thorough, serious and in-depth investigation in order to ensure that such a disaster does not This year’s pilgrimage drew tens of thousands of people who were seen packed together joyfully singing, dancing and lighting bonfires before the deadly In a cruel irony, the Baomer holiday celebrates the end of a plague that killed thousands of Talmudic students at the time of Rabbi Bar Yochai.