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States have onus to engage pvt hospitals for Covid treatment: Centre




The Central government has taken a series of actions to prevent, control and mitigate the impact of Covid-19, the Parliament was told on Tuesday.

In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare), Ashwini Kumar Choubey, said that India followed a “whole of Government” and “whole of society” approach. The Prime Minister, a high-level Group of Ministers (GoM), Cabinet Secretary, Committee of Secretaries and senior officers in the Health Ministry continue to monitor the public health response to Covid-19 in the country.

“The public health actions were taken in a pre-emptive, pro-active, graded manner based on the evolving scenario. A number of travel advisories were issued restricting inflow of international travellers, till such time, commercial flights were suspended on March 23, 2020,” Choubey said.

Till then, a total of 15,24,266 passengers on 14,154 flights had been screened at these airports. Screening was also done at 12 major and 65 minor ports and land border crossings. In the initial part of the pandemic, India evacuated a large number of stranded passengers from then Covid-affected countries like China, Italy, Iran, Japan, Malaysia and again in the un-lockdown phase, a total of 12,43,176 passengers have been brought back.

Noting that health is a state subject, Choubey said that the responsibility of engaging private hospitals for treating Covid cases is that of the state government.

The Union Health Secretary has written to all states and UTs to engage private hospitals through mutually agreeable arrangements. Rates under PM-JAY and CGHS packages have been advised.

The minister also said that the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) is conducting contact tracing through community surveillance. “In the earlier part of the pandemic, this was done for travel related cases and subsequently for cases being reported from community as a part of containment strategy,” he said, adding that as on September 10, a total of about 40 lakh persons have been kept under surveillance.

There are 1,697 laboratories conducting Covid-19 testing and India is testing about one million samples a day. A total of 5.4 crore samples have been tested so far, as on September 10.

As on September 10, a total of 15,290 Covid treatment facilities with 13,14,171 dedicated isolation beds without O2 support have been created. Also, a total of 2,31,269 oxygen supported isolation beds and 62,694 ICU beds (including 32,241 ventilator beds). Guidelines on clinical management of Covid-19 have been issued and are being updated regularly.

States are being supported in terms of supply of logistics. So far 1.39 crore PPE Kits, 3.42 crore N-95 masks, 10.84 crore tablets of Hydroxychloroquine and 29,779 ventilators and 1,02,400 oxygen cylinders have been supplied to states, UTs, and Central government hospitals so far.

More than 30 vaccine candidates have been supported which are in different stages of development, 3 candidates are in advanced stage of Phase I,II,III trials and more than four are in advanced pre-clinical development stage.

A National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 has been constituted on August 7, under the NITI Aayog and 13 clinical trials of repurposed drugs have been undertaken to build a portfolio of therapeutic options for Covid-19 patients.

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Congress MLA B. Narayan Rao dies of Covid-19 in Bengaluru



B. Narayan Rao.

Congress’ Karnataka legislator B. Narayan Rao died of Covid-19 at a private hospital in Bengaluru on Thursday. He was 65.

Rao was critically ill with multi-organ failure, after he was diagnosed with a severe Covid-19 infection, and passed away at 3.55 p.m., Manipal Hospital director Manish Rai said in a statement.

Rao represented the Basavakalyan assembly seat in the state’s Bidar district.

“Rao was admitted in our hospital on September 1 after he tested Covid positive. He was in a very critical state on multiple support systems, including ventilator, till he breathed his last,” Rai said.

Rao’s death comes a day after Minister of State for Railways and BJP MP from Belagavi, Suresh Angadi, died of Covid on Wednesday night at New Delhi’s AIIMS.

BJP’s newly-elected Rajya Sabha member Ashok Gasti also succumbed to the infection in the Manipal hospital on September 17. He was 55.

Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) legislator from Sira in Tumakuru district, B. Satyanarayana died on August 4 in the same hospital after prolonged illness due to multiple organ failure though he tested Covid negative. He was 67.

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Punjab CM Amarinder Singh asks parties to unitedly fight against farm Bills




Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday appealed to all political parties to rise above “petty considerations” and come on one platform to fight unitedly against the “treacherous” agriculture Bills that would destroy the state’s farmers.

Asserting his commitment to protect the rights of the farmers at all costs, he said that he was ready to lead the political fight against the “unconstitutional” anti-farmer Bills with all his might.

“I will do what it takes to save my farmers and my state from these dangerous new laws, whose implementation will cripple the farming sector and also destroy Punjab’s lifeline of agriculture,” he added.

In a statement, the Chief Minister said the Congress had always stood with the farmers and will fight with them, shoulder to shoulder, to scuttle the Centre’s plans to “ruin” not just their own families and the labourers, who toil on the fields day and night to feed the nation, but the entire state of Punjab.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union Government has stooped to a new low by bringing these Bills, and that too in a totally undemocratic and unparliamentary manner,” said Amarinder Singh, adding that his government, supported by the Congress state unit, will oppose the legislations tooth and nail in the interest of not just the farmers and the state but the entire country.

Lambasting the Akalis for “trying to change the narrative through their concerted and deliberate efforts to transform the Punjab versus Centre fight into a local political clash for their vested interests”, he said they have changed the history of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), reducing it from a political force into a puppet of the BJP.

He dismissed SAD leader Harsimat Kaur Badal’s resignation from the Union Cabinet as a mockery of the Akali history of sacrifices, before the Badals hijacked the party and converted it into their personal fiefdom for their own gains.

“Is giving up a berth in the Union Cabinet a sacrifice? The Badals clearly do not know the meaning of sacrifice,” he quipped, ridiculing SAD chief Sukhbir Badal’s latest statement that the Akali Dal can make any sacrifice for farmers.

“What are you still doing in the anti-farmer NDA government at the Centre,” he asked the Akali leader.

Sukbir Badal’s assertion that SAD will not let any corporate enter Punjab if the people bring in an Akali Dal government in the state clearly showed that it was all about power, and the entire drama was being enacted by their party to get into the saddle, said the Chief Minister.

Terming the SAD’s purported U-turn on the Bills as “a desperate step taken under political compulsion”, when faced with the threat of total eradication from Punjab’s political arena, he pointed out neither Sukhbir Singh Badal nor his wife Harsimrat even once opposed the farm ordinances at any point till they were presented in the Lok Sabha.

In fact, the duo continued to actively defend the ordinances as being supportive of the farmers, Amarinder Singh said, pointing to Sukhbir Badal’s stand at the all-party meeting and his decision to stay away from the state Assembly session at which the resolution opposing the Bills was passed.

All their claims now of being with the farmers in this fight against the Bills are a complete farce, which even the agitating farmers are not accepting, he added.

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Things are serious, says Pinarayi Vijayan as new Covid cases spike in Kerala




Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday openly admitted that things are getting serious as the state saw 6324 new Covid cases – the highest single day tally.

“Things are serious as cases are increasing and Thursday also saw Kozhikode registering the highest single day tally ( 883). Kollam district also has high numbers, so is Malappurram district,” said Vijayan.

The day saw 54,989 samples being tested.

At present there are 45,919 active cases, while 1,07,850 people who have been cured. 21 deaths have been reported taking the death toll to 613.

Across the state there are 2,12,318 people who are under observation , which includes 27,120 in hospitals.

There are 654 Covid hotspots in the state.

Vijayan also pointed out that there was an unusual happening when, the police registered a case against, K.M.Abhijith, president of the Kerala Students Union the students’ wing of the Congress party, after a complaint was raised by village council president of a local body in the capital district.

“He had given a false name to the health authorities after he turned Covid-positive. This is not acceptable and responsible Congress leaders should see that such things do not happen,” said Vijayan.

Abhijith wrote on Facebook that it was his friend who gave the name and it was wrongly written by the registering official and there was no deliberate attempt on his part to carry out an act of impersonation.

“Abhijith gave the mobile number of the house owner , where he is sitting in quarantine, as he does not hail from this district. That act itself should be seen, as he has nothing to hide, as all the authorities would be getting in touch with that number,” said a Congress student leader.

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