New Delhi: Opposition parties may have slammed the Modi government for its Parliament reply that no deaths have been reported because of lack of oxygen, but states too, it seems, are loath to admit this.
Of the 13 states that have replied to the Centre’s missive, after the criticism in Parliament on oxygen deaths, none has admitted deaths because of oxygen shortage. Only one, Punjab, has reported some “suspected” deaths.
“We had asked states specifically after the Parliament question whether they had seen any deaths because of oxygen shortage. Of the reports received so far only one state has talked of some ‘suspected’ deaths. No state has said that they specifically reported any deaths because of oxygen shortage,” joint secretary Lav Agarwal said, replying to a question during the Centre’s weekly Covid briefing on states’ response to oxygen shortage deaths.
The Centre had courted controversy last month, during the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament, when MoS (Health) Bharti Pravin Pawar told the Rajya Sabha: “No deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by States and Union Territories.”
Following the furore, the Ministry of Health had written to states asking them whether deaths had happened because of oxygen shortage. Those replies are coming in now.
R increasing in Himachal, UP and Punjab
Even as India reported 28,204 fresh Covid cases Tuesday — its lowest daily Covid numbers in 147 days — the government said that in some states the R-value, which is a measure of how many people a Covid-positive person is likely to infect, is going up. These include Himachal Pradesh (1.3), Punjab (1.3), Uttar Pradesh (1.1) and Andhra Pradesh (1).
Across the country, 37 districts are currently reporting an increasing daily trend in Covid infections. Of these, 11 are in Kerala — Malappuram, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Kozhikode, Palakkad, Kollam, Kannur, Kasargod, Wayanad, Idukki and Pathanamthitta.
“Going as per the current trend, it is expected that for the period of 1st August 2021 to 20th August 2021, the state may witness a cumulative incidence of 4.62 lakh daily new cases approximately,” said Dr S.K. Singh, director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), who led the central team which traveled to Kerala last week.
The team also found hospital occupancy fairly high with 40-60 per cent beds being occupied in the southern districts of the state and 70-90 per cent in the northern districts.
Kerala asked to share post-vaccination infection numbers
The central team has flagged the very high number of post-vaccination infections in the district of Pathanamthitta. They found that the district had reported 14,974 infections after the first dose of the vaccine and 5,042 after two doses.
Asked if this meant that the gap between vaccine doses — the district is using more Covishield — needs to be reduced, Dr Singh said: “This is being further reviewed with the state. We need to know after how much time of the second dose did the person turn positive, whether person got mild or severe disease or required hospitalisation. We have asked this from not just Pathanamthitta but other districts too. We are waiting for the information.”
Dr Singh shared the genome analysis data that showed that the entire country is now awash with the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus. “We have, so far, detected 86 samples in which the Delta plus variant was detected. These numbers mean this variant cannot lead to an exponential surge.”
Currently, about 15 samples are being tested through genomic analysis every fortnight from each of the 277 sentinel surveillance sites in the country, he said.
NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V.K. Paul explained the rationale behind his appeal to the private sector to bring in CSR funds for vaccination of teachers.
“If CSR funds are used to target particular groups, it will lead to the vaccination coverage increasing in the country. There is a clear need for educational institutes to run, so we need to vaccinate teachers. A lot are vaccinated, perhaps more than half. But we should make all effort to reach the others. If we have to reach them proactively, the NGO actor may be effective, CSR may work. We should make every effort to reach critical groups to return to normalcy.”
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)