Over 16L received COVID-19 vaccine in nine days, says Centre; Kumbh Mela SOPs released

FP Staff
·13-min read

Quoting provisional reports, the Union health ministry said over 16 lakh healthcare workers across India have received COVID-19 vaccine jabs till Sunday evening, the ninth day of the nationwide immunisation drive.

The inoculation drive was launched on 16 January and over three crore healthcare and frontline workers have been prioritised to get the jabs.

The ministry said that 31,466 beneficiaries were vaccinated on Sunday till 7.30 pm in five states €" Haryana (907), Karnataka (2,472), Punjab (1,007), Rajasthan (24,586) and Tamil Nadu (2,494) €" through 693 sessions.

"Only 10 adverse events following immunisation have been reported till 7.30 pm on the ninth day of the vaccination drive," it stated.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Delhi that Indian scientists have done their duty by developing the COVID-19 vaccine and "now we have to fulfil ours" by defeating through right information, every network spreading lies and rumours about the vaccination.

Meanwhile in Andhra Pradesh, an ASHA worker died in the Government General Hospital in Guntur on Sunday with her fellow workers alleging that she died following coronavirus vaccination. News agency PTI, quoting doctors, reported that in Telangana's Warangal too, a 45-year old Anganwaadi teacher who was administered COVID-19 vaccine nearly a week ago, died after complaining of chest pain overnight.

Centre issues guidelines for Kumbh Mela

The Centre has issued guidelines for the Kumbh Mela in Uttarakhand's Haridwar, reported LiveMint. As per the guidelines, all devotees attending the mela should register with the Uttarakhand government and compulsorily obtain a Covid-19 negative certificate from Community Health Centre/ District hospital/ Medical college in their state.

According to a Hindustan Times report, the guidelines state "The Government of Uttarakhand would widely publicise, as also convey to all other state governments, that devotees with negative RT-PCR test report (test done 72 hours prior to the date of visit) shall only be allowed to enter the Kumbh mela site," adding that the test reports may be carried in hard copies or in mobile phones by the devotees.

The Centre, in guidelines issued on 22 January but made public on Sunday, has asked the state government to ensure that only healthcare and other frontline workers who have received COVID-19 vaccine are deputed for Kumbh mela duties.

As around 10 lakh people are expected to attend the mela on a regular day and about 50 lakh on the six days considered auspicious days, the Centre has asked the state government to augment the bed capacity across state hospitals, the report said.

Testing facilities will also be increased with setting up of mobile testing facilities, including container-based RT-PCR mobile labs within the mela site and/or at temporary hospitals that would be established, the guidelines state and further add that Uttarkhand government should circulate a statement to all states well in advance, clearly specifying that vulnerable population (ageing over 65 years, pregnant women, children below the age of 10 years, those with underlying comorbid conditions) shall be discouraged from attending the mela.

According to the LiveMint report, the Maha Kumbh Mela began on 14 January and will end in April. Due to the pandemic, this year the Kumbh Mela will be held for 48 days in Haridwar instead of three-and-a-half months.

16,13,667 heath workers vaccinated till Sunday evening

In a statement the Union Health Ministry said, that the cumulative number of healthcare workers vaccinated against COVID-19 has reached 16,13,667 till 7.30 pm on Sunday through 28,613 sessions as per the provisional report, adding that the final report will be completed by late in the night.

The total number of beneficiaries, who were vaccinated till 7.30 pm on Sunday since the launch of the drive, include 1,47,030in Andhra Pradesh, 76,125 in Bihar, 53,529 in Kerala, 1,91,443 in Karnataka, 61,720 in Tamil Nadu, 25,811 in Delhi, 78,466 in Gujarat and 84,505 in West Bengal, according to the provisional reports.

Earlier in the day, the ministry had said that India took only six days to administer 10 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses, a number which is higher than that of countries like the US and the UK. The UK took 18 days whereas the US took 10 days to reach the 10 lakh mark, the ministry said.

Addressing tribal guests, National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets, National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers and tableaux artists who would be a part of the upcoming Republic Day parade, Modi said such youth organisations have always played a role in dealing with challenging times.

"In COVID times also, the work done by you is laudable. When the government and administration needed it, you came forward as volunteers and provided help," he said at the 'At Home' event. "Whether it was spreading awareness about the Aarogya Setu App or coronavirus infection spread, the work done by you was praiseworthy," Modi said.

The prime minister said the youths should now step forward to assist in the COVID-19 vaccination programme by providing the right information to the people.

"You need to take it to the next level now. Your reach is in all parts of society. I request you to come forward to help the country with the COVID-19 vaccination programme. You have to provide the right information on vaccines to the poor and general public," Modi said.

"Indian scientists have done their duty by developing the coronavirus vaccine and now we have to fulfil ours. We have to defeat every network spreading lies and rumours with the right information," Modi said.

Two beneficiary deaths in Andhra, Telangana

Meanwhile in Telangana, an Aanganwadi teacher who was vaccinated on 19 January was found dead on Sunday morning, doctors said. The woman had taken some medicines on Saturday night as she was having chest pain and slept in her house at Shayampeta on the outskirts of Warangal.

Her body was shifted to state-run Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital for postmortem and samples were also collected there and sent for testing to ascertain the cause of death, its Superintendent Dr K Nagarjuna Reddy said.

She is the second person, who had taken COVID-19 vaccination, to have died in the state after complaining of chest pain. Earlier, a 42-year-old healthcare worker in Nirmal district died on 20 January but a health official had said preliminary findings suggested it was unrelated to vaccination.

In Andhra Pradesh, ASHA workers staged a demonstration in front of the Government General Hospital in Guntur, demanding that a compensation of Rs 50 lakh be paid to a fellow worker's family, alleging that she died following coronavirus vaccination.

A leader of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions that led the protest picked up an argument with District Collector Samuel Anand when he visited the hospital to console the family members of the ASHA worker, who died on Sunday.

Anand said the exact cause of the ASHA worker's death would be revealed only after a post-mortem but maintained that not a single Adverse Event Following Immunisation was reported in the district as 10,099 healthcare staff were vaccinated in the first eight days.

The Collector said he would send a proposal to the state government for payment of compensation to the ASHA worker's kin, on the lines of that paid to frontline health workers who succumbed to COVID-19. He also promised a house site besides a job to an eligible member of the family.

The 44-year old ASHA worker complained of severe headache and fever on 22 January, three days after she took a shot of the coronavirus vaccine.

"We first took her to a private hospital and later shifted to the GGH as her condition worsened. She was a very fit person and rendered tireless service during COVID-19 time," the ASHA worker's brother said. He denied that she suffered a brain stroke as was being said by the GGH doctors.

In Delhi, Director General (Prisons) Sandeep Goel said, "Around 60 paramedical staff of the prisons department have been vaccinated so far. They were vaccinated on different dates at the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital. The vaccination will help boost the morale of the jail officials and security forces personnel, who were at a high risk of catching the virus due to the nature of their job." According to a senior jail official, the prisons department has around 200 paramedical staff.

The department had asked around 3,600 staff members, including security personnel, to enroll themselves for receiving the coronavirus vaccine shots.

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik claimed during the day that the state has emerged as a leading state in the vaccination drive with 1.5 lakh total vaccinated beneficiaries and 3452.81 vaccinations per million populace.

With all necessary arrangements made in time, the state government has managed the vaccination process efficiently so far, Patnaik said.

Aviation ministry writes to health ministry

News agency PTI reported that the civil aviation ministry had told the Union health ministry that frontline workers in the aviation sector should be considered for COVID-19 vaccination on priority basis after health workers have been given the jabs.

As per the guidelines issued by the health ministry on 28 December last year, initially around 30 crore Indians will be vaccinated, including around three crore healthcare and frontline workers, and approximately 27 crore people of over the age of 50 years. The frontline workers mentioned in the December 28 guidelines does not include aviation sector employees but personnel from the armed forces, prison staff, municipal workers, among others.

In a letter dated 20 January, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), Pradeep Singh Kharola told his counterpart in the health ministry Rajesh Bhushan: "You will agree with me that the crew, engineers, technicians, ground staff, frontline workers in aviation have certain risk elements while performing their duties in a most diligent manner and make air transportation a safe mode of transport."

Recently, airlines and airports had approached MoCA and highlighted the need to vaccinate their staff on priority basis, albeit once the medical personnel are covered, Kharola mentioned in the letter, which has been accessed by PTI.

"Considering that the frontline workers of airlines and airports are also involved in movement of vaccines, this MoCA recognizes the merit in the proposal and requests the MoHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) to include frontline workers of airlines and airports along with frontline workers mentioned in the operational guidelines released on 28 December, 2020," he added.

If the request is considered favourably, MoCA would coordinate for enumeration of these personnel to be covered under the vaccination programme, Kharola noted.

He said airlines and airports have been in forefront in extending their services to passengers and movement of cargo within the country and across the borders.

India records 14,849 new cases

India's COVID-19 caseload on Sunday rose to 1,06,54,533 with 14,849 people testing positive for the coronavirus infection in a day, while the number of recoveries surged to 1,03,16,786, according to the health ministry.

The toll due to the viral disease has climbed to 1,53,339 with 155 more fatalities, the ministry's data updated at 8 am showed. The national COVID-19 recovery rate has reached 96.83 percent, while the case fatality rate stands at 1.44 percent, the data showed.

The active COVID-19 caseload of the country remained below two lakh for the fifth consecutive day. There are 1,84,408 active cases of the coronavirus infection in the country currently, which account for 1.73 percent of its total caseload, the data stated.

Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal account for 75 percent of the total active cases in the country. The total recovered cases have surged to 10,316,786, the ministry said adding 84.30 percent of the new recovered cases are observed to be concentrated in 10 states and UTs.

Kerala has reported the maximum number of single-day recoveries with 5,283 recoveries. Maharashtra follows with 3,694 new recoveries. The ministry said that 80.67 percent of the 14,849 new COVID-19 cases recorded in a span of 24 hours are concentrated in six states and UTs.

Kerala reported the maximum daily new cases numbering 6,960 in a day. Maharashtra has recorded 2,697 new cases while Karnataka registered 902 new cases yesterday.

Seven states and UTs account for 79.35 percent of the 155 case fatalities reported in a span of 24 hours. Maharashtra reported 56 deaths. Kerala and Delhi follow with 23 and 10 new deaths, respectively.

SC to hear plea seeking one more chance for UPSC aspirants

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday a plea seeking grant of one more chance to appear in the UPSC's civil services examination to those aspirants who could not appear in their previous attempt last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The crucial hearing assumes significance in the wake of the Centre's assertion last Friday that it was not in favour of granting one more opportunity to the civil services aspirants who could not appear in their last attempt in 2020.

A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar had taken note of the submissions of Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing on behalf of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on 22 January and had asked the government to file an affidavit to this effect.

"We are not ready to give one more chance. Give me the time to file an affidavit... yesterday night, I received instruction that we are not agreeable, 'the law officer had told the bench.

The bench, which also comprised justices BR Gavai and Krishna Murai, had asked the law officer to supply the copy of the affidavit to the counsel of civil services aspirant Rachna who had moved the court with the plea for grant of extra chance to crack the test.

Earlier, Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta had told the bench that the government was considering the issue of granting one more opportunity tothose civil services aspirants who could not appear in their last attempt to crack the UPSC exam.

The top court on 30 September had refused to postpone the UPSC civil services preliminary exam, which was held on 4 October , because of the COVID-19 pandemic and floods in several parts of the country.

However, it had directed the Central Government and the Union Public Service Commission to consider granting an extra chance to candidates who otherwise have their last attempt in 2020, with corresponding extension of the upper age-limit.

The bench was then told that a formal decision can be taken by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) only.

With inputs from PTI

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