Lockdowns return, vaccines for all as India reels from Covid


Lockdowns returned to several parts of India on Monday and the government announced that all above age 18 would be eligible for vaccines from May 1 as the coronavirus pandemic battered the country.

Nearly 274,000 people tested positive for Covid-19 in one day, according to the Indian health ministry’s update on April 19 morning, the fifth day in a row India reported more than 200,000 daily cases.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday declared a six-day lockdown starting from 10pm IST Monday till 6am IST on April 26.

He made the announcement during a television address in which he said the fourth wave of the pandemic in Delhi has brought healthcare services to the brink of collapse.

In order to prevent a total collapse, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and I took this decision. And in this duration, essential services will be allowed and more beds will also be set up,” the chief minister added.

India’s capital city logged around 23,000 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours.

On Sunday, Delhi recorded the biggest jump in its daily Covid tally with 25,462 fresh cases and a positivity rate of nearly 30 percent, which meant that almost every third sample being tested in the city was positive.

The Delhi government had earlier imposed night curfew between 10pm and 5am which is still in operation. On Friday, the state government imposed the weekend curfew, but the surge in Covid-19 cases continued.

In Uttar Pradesh, the Allahabad High Court on Monday ordered a complete lockdown in five cities till April 26.

The five cities are Lucknow, Prayagraj, Kanpur, Varanasi and Gorakhpur. All these cities have been reporting a high virus load.

Responding to a public interest litigation, the court directed the state government to strictly enforce the curbs.

The court said that all establishments, be it government or private, except financial institutions and financial departments, medical and health services, industrial and scientific establishments, essential services including municipal functions, and public transport, shall remain closed till April 26.

The Rajasthan government has also announced a 15-day lockdown starting from Monday. According to the guidelines, the bazaars, malls, shopping complexes, cinema halls and all religious places shall remain closed. All educational institutes, coaching centers, libraries, social and political programs, etc, have also been suspended.

Vaccines for all

The Indian government on Monday announced that everyone above the age of 18 will be eligible to get a vaccine against Covid-19 from May 1. The decision was taken in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi said that the government has been working hard for over a year to ensure that maximum numbers of Indians are able to get the vaccine in the shortest possible time. “India is vaccinating people at world record pace and we will continue this with even greater momentum,” he said.

The third phase of vaccination, which will start on May 1, aims at liberalized vaccine pricing and scaling up of vaccine coverage.

Private vaccination providers have to transparently declare their self-set vaccination price and the eligibility through this channel would be opened up to all adults everyone above the age of 18.

Vaccine manufacturers are empowered to release up to 50 percent of their supply to state governments and in the open market at a pre-declared price.

On the other hand, states are empowered to procure additional vaccine doses directly from the manufacturers, as well as open up vaccination to any category of people above the age of 18 for the same.