A frontline worker reacts as she receives a dose of AstraZeneca vaccine at a medical centre in New Delhi on Wednesday. Reuters
Gulf Today Report
India announced on Wednesday that from March 1 people over 60 and those over 45 with multiple medical conditions can be vaccinated against coronavirus for free at 10,000 government hospitals and nearly 20,000 private clinics for a charge.
"Those who want to get vaccinations from private hospitals will have to pay. The amount to be paid will be decided and declared by the health ministry within the next three to four days," Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said after a cabinet meeting.
Meanwhile, fresh COVID-19 cases are showing an upward trend over the past one week, with the country reporting 13,742 cases in the last 24 hours taking the overall tally to 1,10,30,176 on Wednesday, Union Health Ministry said.
The rise in new cases is almost 3,158 more than Tuesdays. India has been recording less than 15,000 new infections daily with the toll not crossing the 200-mark over the last one month.
However, the number spiked possibly owing to "mutations and new strains" as has been studied by the laboratories involved in Covid detection across the country.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that there were 104 more deaths taking the overall toll to 1,56,567.
Last week, officials said that the average daily new infections for the last 15 days were oscillating between 9,000 to 12,000 while the deaths were between 78 to 120.
On Feb.9, India had reported 9,110 new cases, the lowest this year so far. Last year, the lowest 9,633 cases were recorded on June 3.
As per the Ministry's data, there are 1,46,907 active cases at present after 14,037 patients were discharged in a day.
Till now, 1,07,26,702 persons have been discharged so far. The recovery rate has remained to 97.24 per cent, while the fatality rate is 1.42 per cent.
At least 84 per cent of the new cases are from six states -- Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Karnataka and Gujarat.
Six states account for 84.62 per cent of the new deaths including Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka.
The Ministry also informed that 8,05,844 samples were tested on Tuesday. The cumulative tests done by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) so far stands at 21,30,36,275.
More than 1,21,65,598 doses of corona vaccine have been administered in the country since the drive began on Jan.16 after approval for 'Covishield' and 'Covaxin.'
The country began vaccinating its 1.3-billion population last month and plans to inoculate 300 million people by July, but so far the rollout has been limited to healthcare workers and other frontline staff.
The vaccination programme, one of the world's largest, has so far seen 12.2 million shots administered, according to the health ministry.
But at the current pace it will take several years to inoculate 300 million people.The vaccines being used are the AstraZeneca jab, made domestically by Indian giant the Serum Institute, and the homegrown Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech, which is yet to complete trials.
The makers of Russia's Sputnik V have also applied for emergency use approval.
The head of Serum, which other poor countries are relying on for supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine, said on Sunday it had been "directed to prioritise the huge needs of India."
Some regions of the country have seen an uptick in infections in recent weeks including in the western state of Maharashtra, which has imposed new restrictions on gatherings.
"Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the US, I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw-material exports out of the US, so that vaccine production can ramp up," Poonawalla said on Twitter.
India's cases jumped by 28,903 on Wednesday, the highest increase since Dec.13. Deaths increased by 188, the highest in two months, to stand at 159,044.
"We have given at least one dose of the vaccine to more than 91 per cent (of adults) and 39 per cent have got both,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters. "There was also a sharp decrease in hospitalisations and the rate of reinfection is also on the decline..."
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The initiative reflects the wise leadership's keenness to provide assistance to affected families and alleviate their suffering ahead of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
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