India recorded more than 4,000 new COVID-19 related deaths for the first time on a single day, with 4,197 fresh fatalities on May 7.
About 24.59 lakh daily vaccine doses were administered in the country in the 24 hours ending 7 a.m. on May 7, about 4.4 lakh doses higher than what was recorded in the previous 24 hours. However, the number of daily doses has been on a declining trend since mid-April. The seven-day average of daily doses administered by May 6 stood at 18.18 lakh, significantly lower than the 31.31 lakh recorded a month ago.
Here are the latest updates:
Two-week lockdown from May 10 in Tamil Nadu
The Tamil Nadu government on May 8 imposed a complete lockdown (with few relaxations) for two weeks across the State between 4 a.m. on May 10 and 4 a.m on May 24 to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The State government said there would be no restrictions across the State between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. — shops will function during this period — on May 8 and 9 to allow the public to prepare ahead of the complete lockdown.
Inter-district and intra-district vehicular movement (including public transport) will remain suspended during the lockdown, except for essential travel.
In a statement, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin said all shops, except provision and grocery stores and meat stalls, would remain closed. Non air-conditioned provision and grocery stores and meat stalls can remain open till 12 noon and with 50% customers.
Except for those involved in food delivery, other e-commerce companies would not be allowed to function.
Details about all restrictions here.
Second wave declining, third can be prevented, says Principal Scientific Advisor
India can avoid a third COVID wave, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India K. VijayRaghavan said on Friday, stressing that, “If we take strong measures, the third COVID wave may not happen in all the places or indeed anywhere.”
Dr. VijayRaghavan’s statement comes just two days after he said, “Third COVID wave is inevitable in India given the high levels of virus that is circulating. But it is not clear at what time scale this Phase 3 will occur.”
Speaking at a Health Ministry press conference, Dr. VijayRaghavan said preventing a third wave depends on how effectively the guidelines are implemented and followed. “Infections rise when the virus has the opportunity to infect humans,” he added.
Vaccines bought first using PM CARES funds cost Centre more
The first lot of vaccines were procured by the Centre using PM CARES funds at a higher rate than the subsequent rounds paid for by budgetary allocations, The Hindu has learnt from the response to a Right to Information request by a transparency activist.
The Health Ministry response said that the initial 5.6 crore doses of Covishield were bought at a pre-tax price of ₹200 and one crore dose of Covaxin at ₹295, but Finance Secretary T.V. Somanathan said both vaccines were, in fact, bought at around ₹200 only.
This is higher than the current ₹150 rate at which both vaccines are now sold to the Centre. Dr. Somanathan told The Hindu that bulk orders, advance payments and a lower demand situation had helped in negotiating for the lower rate, “which may not be replicable” for future orders by States or others.
Nod for cash payment for COVID bills of over ₹2 lakh
The government has notified changes to the Income Tax Act to allow cash payments of over ₹2 lakh for COVID-19 patients’ treatment at hospitals, dispensaries, nursing homes, COVID care centres or other similar medical facilities.
The relaxation has been granted for payments received in cash between April 1 and May 31, provided such healthcare providers obtain the PAN or Aadhaar of the patient and the payee. The hospitals or nursing homes will also be required to establish the relationship between the patient and the payee to allow such payments.
The provision to bar cash payments over ₹2 lakh was introduced in 2017 as an attempt to curb black money flows, following the demonetisation exercise that began in November 2016. A 100% penalty is levied on any person who has received such a sum in cash. Several COVID-19 affected families, who had no access to digital banking facilities, had been struggling to pay their hospital bills due to the rule.
Hefty hospital bills lead to rush at usury dens in Telangana
For desperate families, who have no other source, gold has become the mythical sanjeevani (panacea) to raise the much-needed funds for medical treatment.
“Yes, for the past one month there is a steady increase of people who are pledging gold ornaments for treatment. When they say they want money for treatment, I’m giving money at a very low rate of interest,” said a jeweller from Secunderabad.
“Selling land is a long process which might take months or at least weeks and gold has come to the rescue of my family. We paid more than ₹10 lakh for treatment of three persons,” said, Yalamanchili Ramu (name changed) from Gayathri Hill who sold 30 tola (one tola equals 10 grams) of family jewellery for the treatment of his mother, daughter and himself who were admitted to a corporate hospital in Secunderabad.
Read full report here.
CoWIN platform to introduce four-digit security code to minimise errors
In order to minimise errors and inconvenience caused to citizens registering for COVID vaccination, the CoWIN system will introduce a new feature — a four-digit security code — in its platform from May 8, the Health Ministry has said.
“It has been noticed in some instances that citizens who booked their appointment for COVID vaccination through the CoWIN portal did not actually go for vaccination on the scheduled date but received a notification through SMS that a vaccine dose has been administered to them. Upon examination, it has been found to occur largely on account of the vaccinator wrongly marking the citizen as vaccinated, an instance of a data entry error by the vaccinator,” noted the Ministry.
The added feature now is to minimise these errors. The Ministry said that after verification if the beneficiary has been found as eligible, before administering the vaccine dose, the verifier/vaccinator will ask her the four-digit code and then enter it in the CoWIN system to correctly record the vaccination status.