CMYK FRIDAY www.thestatesman.com 07 MAY 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5.00|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR STALIN TO BE SWORN IN AS TAMIL NADU CM TODAY KOREA AND THE POLITICS OF PARDON P7 WEATHER Partly cloudy sky with possibility of Rain/Thunderstorm. Temperature to be in the range of 35-25 degrees Celsius. RAINFALL: TRACES RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max.84% TEMPERATURE Max: 34.8 °C (-1) SUN RISES 05:01 hrs MOON RISES 01:56 hrs New moon on 12 P4 THUMBNAILS Ganga ghats wear a deserted look during lockdown, in Varanasi on Thursday. AGENCIES Covid vaccination of aviation personnel: The Centre on Thursday issued guidelines to facilitate expeditious Covid-19 vaccination of aviation personnel working in government as well as private entities. A dedicated vaccination facility will be established by the airport operators in their respective airports to facilitate expeditious vaccination of staff, the guidelines issued by the the Civil Aviation Ministry stated. India, EU to announce resumption of FTA talks: A much-awaited decision on resumption of negotiations for a comprehensive India-European Union free trade agreement after a gap of eight years and unveiling of an ambitious connectivity partnership are set to be the key takeaways of a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top leadership of the 27-nation bloc on Saturday. Rlys cancels slew of premium trains: The Northern Railways on Thursday cancelled “till further advice” eight Shatabdi Express, two Rajdhani Express, two Duronto Express and one Vande Bharat Express citing low patronisation and rising coronavirus cases as the reason behind the decision. P12 SC: Prepare for more Beds to be hiked 40 pc in all Bengal hospitals: CM lethal 3rd Covid wave PRESS TRUST OF INDIA Min: 22.5 °C (-4) SUN SETS 18:05 hrs MOON SETS 13:36 hrs May NEW DELHI, 6 MAY he Supreme Court on Thursday said the country needs to be prepared for the third wave of Covid-19 which experts say could be more harmful, especially for children, and emphasised upon the need to create buffer stock of oxygen. It asked the Centre not to reduce oxygen supply to Delhi from 700MT till further orders and ensure that rationalisation exercise is completed while taking into account the pan-India perspective. The top court said that people in Delhi are dying despite efforts being made to treat Covid-19 patients and there is also no denying that many have lost their lives due to shortage of oxygen supply. It made clear to the Centre and Delhi government that it will not allow the top court of the country to be a ground of recrimination between the two as both indulged in a blame game on the issue of allocation and supply of oxygen. A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah said: “We need to prepare for the third surge of Covid19 which may have altogether different parameters. We have to be ready for that. We have been reading that some experts have said that the third surge will be more harmful especially to children. “We understand children are more resilient as compared to elders but we have to also consider that they themselves will not go to hospitals and their par- WORST YET TO COME We have been reading that some experts have said that the third surge will be more harmful especially to children SUPREME COURT T The apex court asked It made clear to the Centre the Centre not to reduce oxygen supply to Delhi from 700MT till further orders NEW DELHI, 6 MAY The Supreme Court on Thursday said the question of expunging the Madras High Court’s critical remarks holding the Election Commission responsible for surge in Covid cases does not arise as they are not part of judicial order and also trashed the plea that media be restrained from reporting observations of court proceedings, saying it will be a retrograde act. A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud said that though the high court’s remarks were harsh, media cannot be restrained from reporting observations made during the course of PTI hearings. ents will have to take them making them vulnerable.” The bench warned both Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Centre, and senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government, that the Supreme Court being the top Constitutional court of the country cannot be allowed to be a ground of ‘Foreign aid dispatched, no Customs pendency’ NEW DELHI, 6 MAY PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 6 MAY The Union Health Ministry on Thursday said no oxygen concentrator, received as aid from abroad, is lying with the customs authorities at any port of import as these consignments are being cleared swiftly. In all, 3,000 oxygen concentrators have been received as global aid to support the Central government’s efforts and that of the states and Union Territories in their collective fight against the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the health ministry said in a statement. China has sent 1,000 oxy- and the Delhi govt that it will not allow the top court of the country to be a ground of recrimination between the two SC refuses to expunge Madras HC’s anti-EC jibe RLD chief Ajit Singh dies of Covid-19 Former Union minister and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Ajit Singh passed away at a Gurgaon hospital on Thursday morning battling Covid-19, his family said. He was 82. Singh, a prominent farmer leader and the son of former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, was diagnosed with Covid-19 on 20 April, the family said in a statement. “Chaudhary Ajit Singh ji battled his condition till the very end and breathed his last today morning,” his son Jayant Chaudhary tweeted. President Kovind, PM Modi condoled the death of the Jat leader. PTI Details on page 5 P5 STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE Top court stresses upon need to create buffer stock of oxygen Min. 56% BACH FACES MUSIC HE CAN’T LIKE KEJRIWAL THANKS PM FOR 730 MT OF OXYGEN gen concentrators, Ireland 700, the United Kingdom 669 in four consignments, Mauritius 200, Uzbekistan 151, Taiwan 150, Romania 80, Thailand 30, and Russia 20. Some media reports had claimed that oxygen concentrators are lying at Customs warehouses awaiting clearance. “The news is totally incorrect and without any basis. The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs has clarified that there is no such pendency with Indian Customs. The Indian Customs is swiftly clearing all consignments and no such figure of pendency exists across any port of import,” the health ministry said. recrimination. Mehra said that despite the top court’s direction, the Centre has failed to allocate requisite oxygen to the state even on Thursday as per their estimate, a day after it had given 730MT. He said that the Centre has tried to put the Delhi government in the dock in every affidavit they have filed before the courts and claimed that other states like Madhya Pradesh and Punjab were given more oxygen than their demands. At the outset, Mehta told the bench the Centre has complied with the top court’s order and instead of 700 MT oxygen ordered, it had ensured a supply of 730 MT to Delhi on Wednesday. He said that a survey was conducted in 56 major hospitals of the national capital on 4 May and it revealed that they had significant stock of liquid medical oxygen (LMO). Mehta said unloading of oxygen tankers brought to Delhi is taking too long as the vehicles need to be sent back for refilling to the eastern corridors. He said if the Centre keeps on giving 700MT oxygen to Delhi, it will deprive other states of equitable distribution as the demand of 700MT is not correct. KOLKATA, 6 MAY Modi reviews situation, asks states to ramp up vaccination NEW DELHI, 6 MAY Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday held a comprehensive review of the public health response to Covid-19 where he said states should be given help and guidance for ramping up healthcare infrastructure, while the need for ensuring holistic containment measures was also discussed. During the review, the PM also stressed the need to sensitise states so that the speed of vaccination against Covid-19 doesn’t come down and was briefed that around 31 per cent of the eligible population over the age of 45 has been given at least one dose, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office. The PM was given a detailed picture on the Covid outbreak in various states and districts. He was also apprised about the districts with high burden of the disease, the statement said. Modi reviewed the progress of vaccination and the roadmap for scaling up production of vaccines. The prime minister was informed that around 17.7 crore vaccines have been supplied to the states. Modi also reviewed state-wise trends on vaccine wastage. Citizens should be facilitated for vaccination despite lockdowns, the PM said. PTI UPPING ANTE Special permission has been given to all hospitals and nursing homes to increase beds by 40 per cent. The decision will increase the existing bed capacity from 20,000 to 30,000 Permission has been given to 105 health establishments to install medical oxygen plants (PSA) to ensure oxygen supply to needy patients Cautioning people about a further surge in Covid cases in the next 15 days, chief minister Mamata Banerjee today announced a 40 per cent increase of beds in all hospitals and nursing homes to handle the additional patient load and complained against the Centre for not responding to her repeated letters on meeting the state’s requirement of vaccines. “I have not received any reply from the Prime Minister to my letters regarding vaccine requirements. Maybe he is busy. Shortage of vaccines is a big issue. Moreover, our oxygen supplies are also being shifted to other states,” said Miss Banerjee. Ms Banerjee continued, “Why can’t the Centre spend Rs 30,000 crore for universalisation of vaccines when 20,000 crore can be spent for Parliament House building? Why is the Centre allowing people to suffer and the younger generation to die for lack of oxygen? Whatever we can do we are doing our best. The next 15 days are very crucial. The Centre wasted six months only to win elections in West Bengal. The time could have been utilised for Covid management,” said Miss Banerjee in Nabanna. Special permission has been given to all hospitals and nursing homes to increase beds by 40 per cent following which over 2,000 beds would be immediately added in private hospitals. The move will increase the existing bed capacity from 20,000 to 30,000. All doctors, nurses and para-medical interns, who are in the third-year of their post graduation courses and whose exams have OUT OF WORK Trains parked at a Howrah station railway yard on Thursday after the West Bengal government suspended local train services, due to surge in Covid-19 cases. AGENCIES Record 4.12L fresh cases, 3,980 fatalities SNS & PTI NEW DELHI/KOLKATA, 6 MAY Coronavirus cases and deaths in India hit new daily highs on Thursday, with the number of new confirmed cases breached 4,00,000 for the second time since the devastating surge began last month. The 4,12,262 new cases reported on Thursday morning pushed India’s official tally to more than 21 million. The Health Ministry also reported 3,980 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 2,30,168. Active cases have increased to 35,66,398, comprising 16.92 per cent of the total infections, while the national Covid-19 recovery rate has dropped to 81.99 per cent, the data updated at 8 am showed. The UK strain of the coronavirus is currently dominating parts of north India while the “double mutant” could be found mostly in Maharashtra, K’taka and Gujarat The states of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Jharkhand account for 75.55 per cent of the new deaths. Meanwhile, according to a top health ministry official, the UK strain of coronavirus is currently dominating parts of north India while the socalled double mutant could be found mostly in Maha- rashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat Sujeet Singh, Director of National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), also said that the B1.1.7 lineage of SARS CoV-2 (UK variant) is declining in proportion across the country in the last month and a half. The double mutant variant, also known as B.1.617, is mostly dominating Maharashtra,West Bengal, Delhi and Gujarat, Singh said. The South African variant, also known as B.1.315, was predominantly found in Telangana and Delhi. Bengal logs 18,431 new cases: West Bengal registered 18,431 fresh Covid cases and 117 deaths today. Kolkata recorded 3,887 cases and 33 deaths in the last 24 hours. The total Covid case count is 9,35,066. 2,10,77,410 35,66,398 4,12,262 3,29,113 2,30,168 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. THURSDAY 06 MAY 2021 Support grows for waiving vaccine patent rules, snags remain ASSSOCIATED PRESS GENEVA, 6 MAY France joined the United States on Thursday in supporting an easing of patent and other protections on Covid19 vaccines that could help poorer countries get more doses and speed the end of the pandemic. While the backing from two countries with major drug makers is important, many obstacles remain. The move to support waiving intellectual property protections on vaccines under World Trade Organisation rules marked a dramatic shift for the United States and drew cheers from activists, complaints from Big Pharma, and a lot of questions about what comes next. Washington had previously lined up with many other developed nations opposed to the idea floated by India and South Africa in October. Attention is now turning to those richer nations, notably in the European Union and France was the first to voice its support. “I completely favour this opening up of the intellectual property,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday on a visit to a vaccine centre. But he also expressed doubt, as pharmaceutical companies have, that the measure would be the panacea some hope. Even if patents are waived, he said, drug makers in places like Africa currently are not equipped to make Covid-19 vaccines so donations of doses should be prioritized instead. TIMELY REMEDY OR PANACEA? Supporters say a waiver would India, which with South Africa had floated the be important because it would idea, welcomed the US decision to support a waivallow manufacturers around the er on patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines, world to get access to the recipes saying this would help enable rapid scaling up for making the life-saving vaccines of manufacture and timely availability of affordas well as the ingredients able jabs and essential medical products. Even if patents are KEY HURDLE Any single country could waived, drug makers in block a decision at the WTO, a Geneva-based places like Africa currently trade body of 164 member states, to agree to are not equipped to make a waiver Covid-19 vaccines so The pharmaceutical industry insists that pro- donations of doses should duction of coronavirus vaccines is complicat- be prioritized instead ed and can’t be ramped up by easing intellec- EMMANUEL MACRON FRENCH PRESIDENT tual property protections. Another key hurdle remains: Any any single country could block a decision at the WTO, a Geneva-based trade body of 164 member states, to agree to a waiver. The EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said the 27-nation bloc was ready to talk about the US proposal but cagily remained noncommittal for now. “We are ready to discuss how the US proposal for waiver on intellectual property protection for Covid vaccines could help end the crisis, she said in a video address. In the short run, however, we call upon all vaccine producing countries to allow exports and to avoid measures that disrupt supply chains.” That echoed the position CMYK been postponed, will be engaged in hospitals. Thus, we will get an additional 2,000 doctors and 2,000 nurses. Again, these students will also get additional benefits, Miss Banerjee said. State government will engage 1.70 lakh quack doctors as Sasthya Suraksha Karmis, she added. Miss Banerjee said that permission has been given to the 105 government hospitals, state, district and sub-divisional hospitals, medical colleges and super speciality hospitals to install medical oxygen plants (PSA) to ensure oxygen supply to needy patients. Diamond Harbour and Cooch Behar hospitals have already come up with such plants. “I would request with folded hands to everyone to please wear masks, take medical help and stay in isolation as prescribed. We have seen that the second wave is dangerous 30 to 45 age group, so be very cautious,” she said. She urged people not to board crowded buses and directed district magistrates to ensure daily wage earners get their allotment of free ration. of the global pharmaceutical industry, which insists a faster solution would be for rich countries that have vaccine stockpiles to start sharing them with poorer ones. The industry insists that production of coronavirus vaccines is complicated and can’t be ramped up by easing intellectual property protections. Instead, it insists that reducing bottlenecks in supply chains and a scarcity of ingredients that go into vaccines are the more pressing issues for now. “A waiver is the simple but the wrong answer to what is a complex problem, said the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations. “Waiving patents of Covid19 vaccines will not increase production nor provide practical solutions needed to battle this global health crisis.” The industry also says an IP waiver will do more harm than good in the long run by reducing the incentives that push innovators to make tremendous leaps, as they did with the vaccines that have been churned out in a blistering, unprecedented speed to help fight Covid-19. Supporters say a waiver would be important because it would allow manufacturers around the world to get access to the recipes for making the life-saving vaccines as well as the ingredients. They point to unused capacity factories that could churn out vaccines but can’t because of the intellectual property protections. Post-poll violence: CM announces ex gratia; slams Centre for sending team to Bengal KOLKATA, 6 MAY Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today announced ex gratia compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the victims of postpoll violence and slammed the BJP-led Central government for sending a team to West Bengal within 24 hours of her swearing-in as they could not accept defeat. “Within 24 hours of our government coming to power, a letter was sent, a team was rushed in and a Union minister came to the state. The swearing-in was at 10.48 am. MHA sent a stern letter in the evening and next morning a team reached the state. I would request BJP to show some restraint. Please accept the people’s mandate,” said Miss Banerjee at a virtual press conference in Nabanna. A four-member team of the Home Ministry arrived in Kolkata this morning and met with state officials. Last evening, the ministry wrote to the state chief secretary asking why no steps had been taken to stem the violence. On 3 May, the MHA had sought a report on the incidents of post-poll violence and in its letter yesterday, questioned as to why the state government had not submitted the report. “Central teams don’t come when patients don’t get oxygen or vaccines. They could have visited the hospitals to see Covid situation. They didn’t go when Hathras (gang-rape incident) happened or riots broke out in states,” she said, adding that visiting Central officials, like all incoming travellers, too would be required to carry negative SNS Covid test report. See Page 3
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