Coronavirus highlights: States gear up for vaccination drive; Bhopal NGOs want Covaxin trial stopped


The Covid-19 fatality rate in India, which has been showing a steady decline, has now dropped to 1.44 per cent, Union Health Ministry said on Sunday.

India recorded 18,645 new Covid cases in the 24 hours ending 8 am Sunday, taking the total number of infections to over 1 crore and 4.5 lakh. Active cases dropped to 2.33 lakh while recoveries continued to rise to stand at 1,00,75,950. A total of 201 deaths were reported on Saturday, the pushing the toll to over 1.51 lakh.

States gear up for Covid vaccination drive

After two successful trial runs, states across the country are gearing up for the Covid vaccination drive scheduled to kick off on January 16.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said the city government has shortlisted 89 sites to roll out the drive in the national capital from January 16. “The Centre has finalised around 5,000 sites across the country. As per the directions of the central government, we have finalised 89 hospitals as vaccination sites. The first phase of vaccination will start from January 16,” PTI quoted him as saying.

Jain said 40 government and 49 private hospitals will have a vaccination site each. “The first batch of vaccines will arrive by Tuesday or Wednesday. In the first phase, healthcare workers will be vaccinated. Thereafter, frontline workers and those aged above 50 will be given the doses,” Jain said. The Delhi Prisons Department has also asked around 3,600 staff members, including security personnel, to enroll for the shots.

Gujarat has created a database of 1.2 crore people under four priority groups, who will be administered the vaccine as per the Centre’s guidelines. Nearly 11 lakh people engaged in COVID-19 duties, including healthcare and frontline personnel, will be vaccinated on priority in Gujarat, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said, adding that 16,000 personnel have been trained for administering the shots.

Goa government has also identified eight hospitals for the first phase of vaccination in the state, where around 18,000 healthcare workers will receive the shots, an official told PTI on Sunday. As many as 100 vaccinations would be done at each of these eight facilities every day, amounting to a total of 800 inoculations per day, state immunisation officer Dr Rajendra Borkar told PTI.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Sunday announced that her government is arranging to provide free Covid-19 vaccines to all residents. “I am happy to announce that our government is making arrangements to facilitate the administration of Covid-19 vaccine to all the people of the state without any cost,” ANI quoted Banerjee as saying.

In an open letter, Banerjee said COVID warriors, including police, home guards, civil defence volunteers, correctional home and disaster management employees, will be administered the vaccine on a priority basis. Banerjee expressed gratitude to all the COVID warriors for their selfless service to the people of West Bengal.

Bengal conducted a dummy vaccination drill along with the rest of the country on January 8, at three centres in every district. The trial run gave insights on proper administration of vaccine shots and validation of data in CoWIN app.

“With this trial, we all are now prepared to protect our countrymen by vaccinating them. The trial run will help the frontline workforce and people get the vaccine quickly and safely as per the prescribed phase-wise rollout,” said an official.

Stop Covaxin trial in Bhopal: NGOs working for gas victims

At least four NGOs working for the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy survivors on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding that the ongoing clinical trials for India-made Covaxin be stopped in the Madhya Pradesh capital in view of the “gross violation of laws and guidelines”.

In the letters addressed to the PM and Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, these NGOs have also sought punishment for the “responsible parties who were negligent in ensuring the safety, well being and the rights of the trial participants”. They also demanded monetary compensation for “damages
caused during the Covaxin trial in Bhopal”.

“We are writing to you to apprise you of the onground situation with regard to the conduct of the trial. Evidence has emerged that the trial in Bhopal is being conducted in gross violation of laws and guidelines governing clinical trials in India,” the NGOs wrote in the letters, copies of which were shared with mediapersons.

Covid-19 negative report not required to enter Puri Jagannath temple from Jan 21

The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) Sunday announced that devotees need not produce their Covid negative certificate to enter the 12th-century shrine in Puri from January 21. The decision was taken in a meeting attended by SJTA chief Krishan Kumar, Puri district magistrate-cum collector Samarth Verma and Superintendent of Police K B Singh.

“The devotees can enter the temple without having Covid-19 negative report from January 21. The decision will remain in force till February 21,” news agency PTI quoted the SJTA chief told reporters.

Kumar said the SJTA has decided to ease the restriction that was imposed on temple entry for the general public. The temple opened for public from January 3 after remaining shut for nine months in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The Puri Collector said special arrangements and queue system will soon be introduced for elderly/senior citizens coming to the temple.

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