COVID-19 fight crippled as vaccines, oxygen and beds fall short

COVID-19 in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: Even as the ongoing vaccination drive against COVID-19 intensifies across the State, designated healthcare centres across Kerala are slowly closing down due to a shortage of vaccines.

Nearly half of the camps in Palakkad are not operational while the activity at 134 camps in Thiruvananthapuram have been hampered.

Only 7.22 lakh doses remain in stock at the moment, health officials informed on Thursday.

The State has asked the Centre for 50 lakh more doses. Two lakh doses arrived on Thursday and 7.7 lakh doses are expected soon.

Of the 1.15 crore people above the age of 45, 50 lakh have been vaccinated and 65 lakh remains to get the jab.

The State has directed local administrations and health representatives to distribute what remains of the stock to vaccinate frontline workers.

For those receiving second doses of the vaccine, health officials urged that they get the same brand as the first dose – i.e., If some got Covishield as the first dose, then he/she must get Covishield dose again and not another.

The State also aims to test over 2.5 lakh people each on Friday and Saturday in an effort to curb the recent spread of COVID-19.

Crisis in other States

New Delhi: Many Indian hospitals were scrambling for beds and oxygen as COVID-19 infections surged to a new daily record on Thursday, with the second wave of infections centred on Maharashtra.

India's tally of total infections is second only to the United States, with experts blaming everything from official complacency to aggressive variants. The government has blamed failure to practise physical distancing.

The country has been producing oxygen at full capacity for each of the last two days but will have to turn to imports, with the health ministry saying it was planning to import 50,000 metric tons.

"The situation is horrible," said Avinash Gawande, an official at a government hospital in Nagpur that was battling a flood of patients, as were hospitals in neighbouring Gujarat state and New Delhi in the north.

"We are a 900-bed hospital, but there are about 60 patients waiting and we don't have space for them."

Maharashtra, home to the financial capital of Mumbai, began a lockdown at midnight on Wednesday, a move that spurred a rush to stockpile essential items in advance. The state, the country's most industrial, has been the worst affected by the pandemic.

India has added 200,739 infections over the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed, for a seventh daily record surge in the last eight days, while 1,038 deaths took its toll to 173,123.

Despite injecting the third-highest number of vaccines doses worldwide, India has covered only a small part of its 1.4 billion people.

India said on Thursday regulators would decide on emergency-use applications for foreign COVID-19 vaccines within three working days. India's ambassador to Moscow said deliveries of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to India were expected to begin before the end of April, the TASS news agency reported.

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