A day before India opens up vaccination for senior citizens and those above 45 years with co-morbidities, fresh daily COVID-19 infections were above 16,000 for the fourth consecutive day.
Six States — Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat — have shown a surge in new cases in the last 24 hours, with about 86% of cases emerging from these States.
Here are the latest updates:
Phase two vaccination drive to begin at 12 p.m. in Karnataka
Mandatory COVID-19 test for tourists from Kerala drives down visitors to the Nilgiris
The number of tourists coming to the Nilgiris from Kerala has come down in the last few days after the district administration announced that they would have to undergo a COVID-19 test before entry.
Collector J. Innocent Divya said all tourists from Kerala should have undergone a test before visiting the Nilgiris. Those who were coming in without taking the test would be tested at border checkpoints. The measure has been taken in view of the increase in the number of infections in Kerala, and to check the spread of the contagion in the district.
The restriction has discouraged visitors, though it does not bar any tourist from the Nilgiris, said a hotel owner in Udhagamandalam.
“We have had people calling us up and asking about the new ‘restriction’ and have had many people cancel reservations because they do not want to undergo the test,” he said.
‘Substandard face masks given through ration shops’
A wing of the Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad (KSSP) has urged the authorities to ensure the quality of face masks being distributed reportedly through ration shops in the State.
According to functionaries of Campaign Against Pseudo Science Using Law and Ethics (CAPSULE) Kerala, a platform under the KSSP, one ration card holder is getting two face masks each. The Civil Supplies Department is distributing them through the public distribution system. The criterion for distribution is not clear though it has been presumed that they are for the prevention of COVID-19. As the society is yet to completely recover from the pandemic, people may view distribution of face masks only as a preventive measure.
U. Nandakumar, CAPSULE functionary, pointed out that the cloth masks were found to be single-layered and porous. “If the face masks are to protect people from the infection, they should at least be double-layered and should not be porous. The World Health Organisation’s guidelines say that fabric face masks should have more than two layers. Distribution of single-layered face masks is not only unscientific, but also carries risks for those who wear them,” he said.
Efforts on to step up coverage in phase 2 of COVID-19 vaccination drive in Puducherry
As the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme broadens in scope to target beneficiaries, including persons above 60 and those above 45 with comorbidities from today, health authorities are looking for ways to improve the dismal immunisation coverage.
Since, the vaccination drive began in Puducherry, 10,329 personnel, including 9,589 healthcare workers, have undergone immunisation. Vaccination for healthcare personnel has been on for 28 days while the drive has been on for 17 days for frontline workers.
“Now that the vaccination will be available to the public on a walk-in basis at any of the 17 government-run facilities, we hope that the programme picks up pace,” said S. Mohan Kumar, Director of Health Services. Senior citizens can visit any facility with documentary proof of age and those above 45 years can produce a certificate of their medical condition to get themselves vaccinated.
The Health Department, which had received a consignment of 81,000 doses, now has a stock of 70,000 doses. As part of efforts to boost immunisation coverage, health officials have been asking all medical colleges, including private institutions, to get their staff administered vaccines.
Retail showing signs of revival post lockdown
When the lockdown was announced in March 2020, the retail sector in Tamil Nadu, including textile and consumer brands, took a severe hit with business falling immediately by 25%.
A year down the line, those at the helm of the retail outlets have realigned their strategies, embraced technology and learnt to operate with minimal workforce.
Business is now 80% up when compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. “Retail has bounced back much more strongly in non-metros. Non-metros are at 80% pre-COVID levels while it was closer to 65% in metros. Malls are still facing a challenge in comparison to high street stores,” said Suhail Sattar, chairman of the Chennai Chapter of the Retail Association of India and co-founder of Hasbro Clothing.
He said the lockdown had taught lessons like the need for multi-channel approach and scaling up investment in online and digital as medium.
India’s cases surpass 1.11 crore, death toll reaches 1,57,157
India’s COVID-19 tally surpassed 1.11 crore on March 1 with 15,510 new infections, while the active cases registered an increase for the fifth consecutive day and were recorded at 1,68,627, according to the Union Health Ministry data.
The total coronavirus cases reached 1,11,12,241 in the country, while the death toll rose to 1,57,157 with 106 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 a.m. on March 1showed.
The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,07,86,457, which translates to a national COVID-19 recovery rate of 97.07%, it stated. The case fatality rate has dropped to 1.41%.
The active cases further increased to 1,68,627, which comprises 1.52% of the total infections, as per the data.
Vaccine sought for teachers, students
Leaders of the Municipal Teachers Federation (MTF) have appealed to the government to administer COVID-19 vaccine to teachers and students on a priority basis. The federation’s State president S. Ramakrishna pointed to the increase in the number of cases in the State, especially in Chittoor district. He said cases were also reported from schools in that district.
Referring to the resurgence of the pandemic in Maharashtra where the government had declared a holiday for schools till March 14, Mr. Ramakrishna said the Centre had also asked the States to strengthen measures to curb the spread of the virus.
He urged the authorities to ensure strict implementation of the guidelines in schools. Each classroom should not have more than 16 students, relaxation of the ‘compulsory attendance’ rule for students and teachers and declaration of half day schools in view of the early summer heat.
96% people faced drop in earnings during last year’s lockdown: survey
Nearly 96% of the people surveyed under a food rights campaign in Maharashtra faced a drop in their earnings during the novel coronavirus-induced lockdown last year, a social body claims.
Job losses and non-availability of casual work were the key reasons for this, and every fifth respondent was forced to go hungry because of no money to buy food, Mukta Srivastava, the State’s convener for the Anna Adhikar Abhiyan, told reporters on Saturday.
The abhiyan, comprising a group of activists from food and nutrition sector, surveyed a total of 250 people in May and September last year in Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Pune, Nandurbar, Solapur, Palghar, Nashik, Dhule and Jalgaon.
Of the total respondents, 52% were from rural areas and the rest from urban limits. Those surveyed included 60% women, she said. Before the lockdown, nearly 70% of the respondents had a monthly income of ₹7,000, while the remaining earned about ₹3,000 per month, Ms. Srivastava said.
PM Modi takes first dose of COVID-19 vaccine
Prime Minister Narendra Modi early on Monday morning took the first shot of COVAXIN , the Indian researched and produced anti-COVID19 vaccine (produced by Bharat Biotech) at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.
Tweeting a picture of himself getting a shot Prime Minister Modi said:”Took my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS. Remarkable how our doctors and scientists have worked in quick time to strengthen the global fight against COVID-19. I appeal to all those who are eligible to take the vaccine. Together, let us make India COVID-19 free!”
– Nistula Hebbar