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Many temples have come forward to help people during the Covid crisis

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As India struggles with the second wave of the coronavirus, several temples across the nation have come forward to offer aid and assistance to fight this battle.

As new cases of Covid-19 surge in Gujarat, BAPS Swaminarayan Temple of Vadodara has converted its Yagnapurush Sabhagruh to a Covid-19 facility. The Covid-19 care centre is equipped with 500 beds, oxygen facilities like liquid oxygen tanks and piped oxygen lines, ICU beds and ventilators. 

The facility that has been operational since April 13 has so far admitted 45 Covid-19 patients from a nearby hospital for further treatment.

The Covid-19 facility at BAPS Vadodara. Image Source: Desh Gujarat on Twitter

Gyan Vatsal Swami of the Shri Swaminarayan Temple informed, “We are providing all the non-medical facilities for patients. We have arranged for oxygen and ventilators including the ICU rooms apart from fans and air-coolers. Currently, 300 beds are operational and 200 will be added soon.”

TV9 Gujarati’s coverage of the newly built Covid care facility

Puri Shri Jagannath Temple

Puri’s Shree Jagannath Temple Administration has decided to convert its Nilachal Bhakta Nivas into a Covid-19 Care Centre. This facility with 120 beds will also act as a dedicated centre for servitors and officials associated with the temple infected with the coronavirus.

Apart from this, the temple had pledged a donation of Rs 1.51 crore towards the Chief Minister Relief Fund to aid the government in this fight. A letter by the temple registration read, “As per the decision of the Managing Committee of Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri, an amount of Rs.1,51.00.000/- (One crore fifty-one lakh) is contributed towards Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for COVID-19 from Temple Administration.”

Along with Jagannath Puri, 62 other smaller temples in Orissa had donated to the CMRF.

Pawan Dham converts its 4-storey building

The Pawandham Temple in Mumbai’s Kandivali has once again converted its four-storey building into a Covid-19 quarantine centre equipped with 100 beds. Out of the 100, 50 beds are equipped with an oxygen concentrator unit, oximeters, pulse metre, portable BP apparatus, monitor machine among others. Additionally, more than 50 medical staff including 10 doctors are deployed in the facility.

Santosh Singh, a Managing Committee Member of the temple says, “We have so far got 50 beds ready, we have tied up with Apex Hospital for healthcare support like doctors, medical staff. All we are waiting for is the critical oxygen supply before that comes we can’t start. Assurance has been given by some suppliers but let’s see.”

India TV’s coverage of the Covid-19 facility built at Pawan Dham

The temple which was converted into a covid centre last year as well, had treated more than 2000 patients.

Mahavir Temple, Patna

The Mahavir Temple at Patna is providing free oxygen cylinders to the infected. It started its work of providing free oxygen on the 30th of April.

Jain Temple, Mumbai

A Jain Temple in Mumbai has been converted to a Covid care center. A 100-bed pathology lab was built here last year and 2000 patients were treated.

Sant Gajanan Temple, Maharashtra

Sant Gajanan Maharaj Temple, located in Shegaon of Buldhana district in the state, is one of the largest religious centers in the state. Here, separate isolation complexes of 500 beds have been built for Covid suspects and patients. It has a community kitchen that prepares food for 2,000 people. This food is given to everyone for free.

Shri Swami Narayan Temple, Mumbai

In view of the deteriorating Covid condition in Mumbai, the temple was converted into a Covid Hospital some time ago. The temple chief assured that the treatment of the patients here would be taken care of by the temple committee.

ISKCON Temple

Arrangement has been made by the ISKCON Temple for free food for the elderly, children, patients and pregnant women. A helpline number 9717544444 has been issued by ISKCON. A separate kitchen has been started by the Temple for the purpose.

Radhaswami Satsang Vyas, Indore

It has been made the second largest Covid care center in the country. It has been named “Maa Ahilya Kovid Care Center”. A maximum of 6000 beds can be arranged here.

Ram Mandir, Ayodhya

‘Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra’ announced the setting up of an oxygen plant in view of the Corona crisis . The trust will bear the expenses of Rs 55 lakhs. This oxygen plant will be set up at Dasharatha Medical College.

Tirupati Temple

The Tirupati Temple is often at the top of the list in terms of charity. Last year amidst the Corona crisis, migrant laborers were accommodated here.

Other temples

Kashi Vishwanath Temple which is one of the holiest shrines for Hindus had been feeding the patients suffering from Covid-19. 

The famous Sarangpur Hanuman Mandir In the Botad district of Gujarat, had converted its Dharamshala into a 100-bed hospital to tend to the coronavirus patients last year.

Last year too, when the pandemic’s first wave had hit the country, many Hindu temples had poured in crores of rupees in donations, had provided food and shelter for the needy and had stood up to support the nation through the crisis.

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Surge Tests, Vaccine Measures as B1.617.2 Covid-19 Variant Spreads Rapidly in Parts of UK

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The case numbers related to the B1.617.2 variant of Covid-19, first identified in India, have more than doubled within a week in the UK, resulting in further surge testing and enhanced vaccine measures to be deployed in parts of the country where the strain is beginning to spread increasingly rapidly. Public Health England (PHE) said on Thursday that its latest analysis shows the number of cases of the highly transmissible variant first detected in Maharashtra has risen from 520 last week to 1,313 cases this week.

Most cases are in the northwest of England, with some in London, and additional measures are being put in place to “rapidly break chains of transmission”. UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the health authorities are monitoring the situation very carefully and will not hesitate to take further action if necessary, indicating that the roadmap to lifting all lockdown measures from June 21 may have to be reassessed.

This data demonstrates why our swift and decisive measures are in place. Everyone has a part to play in controlling this variant, from participating in surge testing, to following the rules, to getting the jab, said Hancock. We are committed to working with local areas and deploying our world-leading genomic sequencing to get this variant under control. We are supporting areas where the cases of this variant are rising, he said.

The minister said it is imperative that people who live in one of the 15 areas currently covered by surge testing processes get a free PCR test and everyone who’s eligible needs to come forward and get their vaccine. PHE said that while there is no firm evidence yet to show this variant has any greater impact on the severity of disease or that it evades vaccines, the “speed of growth is concerning”.

UK Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said the authorities are looking at how to best utilise the vaccine roll-out to protect the most vulnerable in the context of the current epidemiology, including the possibility of bringing forward the second doses for the most vulnerable in some of the most affected areas. Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Manchester, one of the hotspots of the variant, has also called for a speeding up in the age eligibility criteria for vaccines in the affected areas. The National Health Service (NHS) is now offering a jab to all over the age of 38.

Cases of this variant are rising in the community and we are continuously monitoring its spread and severity to ensure we take rapid public health action, said Dr Susan Hopkins, Covid-19 Strategic Response Director at PHE. Testing and isolating when required not only limits spread, it helps us to better understand how the variant behaves in the community which is vital to taking effective and proportionate action moving forward “The way to limit the spread of all variants is the same. Keep your distance, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, cover your nose and mouth when inside, keep buildings well ventilated and meet people from other households outside, she said.

The variant was confirmed as a “Variant of Concern” by PHE on May 7 after a rise in cases and evidence of spread in some areas. Since then across the northwest of England, significant work is underway with local councils and partners. In Bolton, mobile testing units have been deployed and door to door PCR testing has been offered to 22,000 residents. A vaccine bus has been established in the heart of the community to increase vaccine uptake as part of a wider drive.

PCR testing, whole genome sequencing and enhanced contact tracing are being used throughout London to target the many small dispersed clusters. All positive tests in London with a high enough viral load are also being prioritised for genomic sequencing to check for variants, and surge testing can begin immediately if it is needed. Taking this community-led approach has already proved effective in reducing transmission of variants in London to date, PHE said.

To help identify variant cases, surge testing is being deployed in 15 areas across England to suppress transmission, with more than 800,000 additional PCR test kits distributed. According to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), over 4,400 cases and over 14,000 close contacts have been traced and instructed to self-isolate.

Over 200 existing test sites and 130 schools have distributed test kits, with Mobile Testing Units deployed to provide PCR testing for people without symptoms. The public is also being urged to continue to take up the offer of two free rapid tests a week, to help identify asymptomatic cases. Anyone who does test positive in this way should take a follow-up PCR test, which can be sent for genome sequencing to help catch new variant cases.

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National Platform to Determine Impact of Covid-19 Vaccines to Be Established Soon

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A national tracking platform will be established soon to determine the impact of the jabs against COVID-19 and the breakthrough infections that are likely to occur among those with complete and partial immunisation, official sources said. The recommendation of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) to establish such a platform has been accepted by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 and the Union Health Ministry, they said.

“The COVID-19 Working Group which is part of NTAGI has strongly recommended to urgently establish a national vaccine tracking platform to determine the impact of the COVID vaccine(s) and the breakthrough infections that are likely to occur among those with complete and partial immunisation,” said Dr N K Arora, the INCLEN Trust chairperson who heads the COVID-19 Working Group. The vaccine tracker will be particularly important to monitor the impact of increasing the dosing schedule of Covishield, he said, as the government on Thursday accepted the working group’s recommendation to extend the gap between the two doses of the Covishield vaccine from 6-8 weeks to 12-16 weeks.

The current data harmonisation work of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and other agencies can be leveraged to set up this facility for review of ground realities on real-time basis, the NTAGI has recommended. The government panel has also recommended that pregnant women may be offered the choice to take any of the COVID-19 vaccines and that lactating women can be inoculated any time after delivery.

The NTAGI has also stated that those having laboratory test proven SARS-CoV-2 illness should defer COVID-19 vaccination for six months after recovery, the sources said. According to the health ministry’s current protocol, vaccine is to be taken four to eight weeks after recovery from COVID-19 infection and pregnant and lactating women are not to be administered the shots.

The NTAGI recommended that all pregnant women visiting for antenatal care (ANC) may be informed about risks and benefits associated with Covishield and Covaxin. Based on the information provided, a pregnant woman may be offered the choice to take any of the vaccines. An educational tool comprising information on risk of COVID-19 infection during pregnancy, benefits associated with the vaccination and rare complications associated with vaccines like thrombosis and thrombocytopenia (with Covishield) may be developed.

In case of individuals who have received the first dose and before completion of the dosing schedule if they test positive for COVID-19, they should wait for 4-8 weeks after clinical recovery from the illness. Also, COVID-19 patients who have been given anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma may defer vaccination for three months from the day of discharge from hospital, the recommendations stated.

Individuals having any other serious illness requiring hospitalisation or ICU care should also wait for 4-8 weeks before getting the vaccine, it added.

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Delhi Police Quiz Youth Congress President Srinivas BV Over Covid Assistance to Public

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Indian Youth Congress (IYC) president Srinivas BV on Friday said the Delhi Police’s Crime Branch questioned him about the assistance being provided by him to people during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Police called me this morning and came to my office around 11.45 am. They questioned that how you are doing it,” he said.

However, the Delhi Police said the questioning has been done following a Delhi High Court order. The high court has directed the city police to conduct inquiry into politicians involved in distribution of COVID-19 medicines and other items, and take steps for lodging of FIR in case of offence, a senior police officer said.

In compliance with the directions of the high court, inquiry is being conducted into several people, the officer said. On May 4, the Delhi High Court had asked the police to examine the instances of politicians allegedly procuring and distributing Remdesivir, used in treatment of COVID-19 patients, in the national capital and take steps for lodging of FIR in case of offence.

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