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No space to bury dead bodies in graveyards due to Covid-19 surge

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India has recorded over 1,85,000+ Covid-19 cases in a single day. 1,026 people have lost their lives due to the complications associated with the infection yesterday. Though the average death rate is on the lower side, the number of dead bodies per day is increasing, which has created a problem for the graveyards in several cities.

The largest graveyard in Delhi can accommodate only 150 more bodies

As per reports, the largest graveyard in Delhi, Jadid Qabristan Ahle Islam, can accommodate only 150 more dead bodies. Mohammad Shamim, the caretaker of the graveyard, said that the number of dead bodies is on the rise since April 4. On April 12, 25 dead bodies were brought to the graveyard. Out of 30 dead bodies that were brought on April 13, 18 were non-Covid. Shameem added that he is the third generation of caretakers, and he has never seen so many dead bodies in a single day.

Labour is not ready to dig graves amid Covid-19 fear in Ranchi

As per regulations, the dead body has to be buried at 7 or 8 feet instead of the normal 3 feet to ensure infection cannot escape from the grave. Digging such deep graves take time and manpower. However, in cities like Ranchi, people are unable to find the labour to dig graves as they are afraid of the infection. They are arranging JCB machines to dig the graves. Mukhtar Ahmed of Anjuman Islamia said that the number of dead bodies has increased in the last few days. People have to wait for hours to bury the deceased. However, he ensured that there was no shortage of space.

The price of digging graves increased by 60% in Lucknow

In Lucknow, as the number of dead bodies increased, the price to dig the grave has also gone up. As per a report published in Hindi Daily Amar Ujala, 210 dead bodies were buried in the largest graveyard in the city, i.e. Aishbagh graveyard. Out of these 210, 14 were infected, according to Hafiz Mateen, caretaker of the graveyard. In the Hazratganj graveyard, 40 dead bodies have been buried in the last four days.

Price of digging grave increased by 60%. Left: Old price Rs.500. Right: New price Rs.800. (Image: Amar Ujala)

However, Hafiz Salimuddin, caretaker of the graveyard, assured that none of them was infected. The price to dig the grave has gone up by 60% from Rs.500/- to Rs.800/-.

Graveyards in Surat are digging graves in advance

In Surat, those who had died of Covid-19 are being buried in three graveyards that are located in Rander and Rampura. Ibrahimbhai, the caretaker of Mora Bhagal graveyard, said that before Covid, 2-3 dead bodies used to come on any given day. However, nowadays, around 10-12 dead bodies are arriving daily. They are digging graves in advance so that people do not have to wait to bury the deceased. He added, if they wait for someone to come and ask to dig the grave, people may have to wait for two days to bury the deceased. JCBs are also being used in Surat to dig graves.

JCB digging graves (Image: ABP News)

Crematorium grounds facing similar problems

The situation is no different on crematorium grounds. In Surat, dead bodies are being burnt day and night. At one place, the walls of the electric crematorium melted due to constant high heat. Ashwini Kumar and Ramnath Ghela crematorium grounds are getting the majority of the dead bodies. As per reports, around 100 dead bodies are reaching daily for cremation, which is much higher than normal. The administration has restarted Kailash Mokshdham to accommodate the increase in demand. Notably, Kailash Mokshdham was close for 14 years.

In Ranchi, the electric crematorium in Harmu broke down. While the administration was trying to fix it, the dead bodies were being buried in the open, which is not safe as per the protocols. A team from Delhi was called to repair the crematorium.

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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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‘Delhi govt was not organizing the logistics, they were just complaining’: Siddharth Jain of INOX

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The demand for medical oxygen in India has jumped manifold amidst the more virulent second wave of Covid-19. Several states have raked the issue of lack of oxygen supplies and pinned the blame on the Centre for the crisis. Amongst all such states, Delhi has been at the forefront of playing the blame game.

For all this while, Delhi had been harping that the state has been receiving Oxygen way below its quota. Until May 12, the AAP govt was whining that it should be getting 976 MT of Oxygen per day, though it was allocated 730 MT of oxygen. This went on until the Supreme Court ordered an audit of oxygen used by various states, which the Delhi govt was vehemently opposing in the court.

No sooner did the SC order an oxygen audit than Delhi rushed to admit that they have access supply of the same and also offered to give the surplus oxygen to the States who need it. Its oxygen demand magically dropped to 582 MT per day despite the number of active Covid-19 cases dropping only marginally.

Later it was also revealed that Delhi’s actual demand was much less than what the Kejriwal government was demanding, and they had to ask the suppliers to take back oxygen and store it in their tanks as Delhi hospitals don’t have large storage tanks to keep the excess oxygen. 

Inox Air products director Siddharth Jain says Delhi wasn’t organising the logistics and was just complaining

While all the information available until now is more than enough to believe that despite the Kejriwal Government blaming the centre, it is more of its own shortcomings which have led to the oxygen crisis in the national capital, Siddhart Jain, the director of INOX Air Products has also affirmed the same.

Speaking to Quartz, Jain said that, unlike other states, Delhi was not arranging for logistics to call for the oxygen to the state, instead just complaining. “It was only later after a lot of pressure was put on them, they started moving it”, said Jain explaining how it is the job of the state, not the center, to organize the logistics and get the allocated product.

Clearing the air on India’s current oxygen crisis, the supply chain issues and the central and state government’s role, Jain said that it is not the union government’s job to pick up the oxygen and deliver it to end locations. 

“It is not their job to go to Odisha, pick up the oxygen and come to Mumbai and pour it in a tank. What do the states exist for? What is their job? It is the job of the state to go and organise the logistics and go and get the allocated product”, said the Inox director.

AAP Govt only one complaining about supply issues, Jain

Here it is important to mention hat Delhi is supplied oxygen by 4 suppliers, Inox, Linde, Air Liquide and Goyal Gases.

Jain reiterated here that the Delhi government is the only one complaining about supply issues and doing nothing to resolve it. Breaking down information for a layman, Jain said that there are only 70 plants that manufacture oxygen in India. He said that the central government’s job is to inform these manufacturers to produce a certain amount of oxygen. The Center formed a committee to approve the oxygen demand by the states and a chart that was made for each state with a name and an allocation volume. 

Here, he said that the role of the central government ends and that of the state begins. It is the job of the state government’s to arrange for logistics to make sure the supplies reach to them in the stipulated time, which unfortunately the Kejriwal government failed to do, confirmed Siddharth Jain.

Speaking about the logistical challenges, Jain rued that India has only 1,170 cryogenic transportation tankers out of which Inox has 320. “India has only 70 oxygen plants and these 1,170 containers were moving the entire production of oxygen. Earlier, out of 100 tankers that we would manufacture only 15 were going to medical, and 85 were going to industry. So all our plants are located in areas very close to industry, and not in the most densely populated areas where there are hospitals. But now, there is a requirement for oxygen everywhere. So we needed to transport these tankers to the entire country”, explained Jain.

Jain added that the production of medical oxygen has been ramped up in his plant, He said that his company has set up a new plant and also made investments in technological innovation inside their existing plants to increase its capacities. They have also reduced the capacity of some other gases that they make, such as nitrogen and argon, and are using those capacities to increase oxygen production.

While AAP Govt whines, data reveals Delhi returning oxygen to suppliers due to storage constraints

Meanwhile, while Delhi continues to bicker and indulge in petty politicking over oxygen, vaccination and other medical supplies, it has been cleared that in the last 10 days, Delhi received 530 MT of oxygen per day on average. But given the fact that the AAP govt returned 74 MT on 9th May and later asked the companies to store around 100 MT in their tanks, it means that the actual demand in Delhi is less than 500 MT. This means the union govt’s estimate of Delhi’s demand was correct and the Delhi govt was demanding 700 MT despite using less than 500 MT per day.

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