Jaishankar meets Blinken, other top officials; US underlines Covid cooperation, India help
The Central government on Saturday announced that it will support the children orphaned by Covid-19 and will ensure their free education. In a release, it said that the children who lost parents to the pandemic will get a monthly stipend once they turn 18 and a fund of Rs 10 lakh when they turn 23 from PM CARES. The government will also assist them to get higher education loans and the PM CARES will pay the interest.
The number of cases recorded in 24 hours in Delhi has come down to three digits after 67 days, with the city reporting 956 in the last 24 hours on Saturday.The city had conducted 80,473 tests in the last 24 hours, out of which 956 turned out to be COVID positive. This means that the city’s positivity rate further decreased to 1.19%. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said Delhi’s supply of vaccine doses for those in the 18-44 category will not be replenished before June 10. He added that this had been communicated to the Delhi government by the Centre on Friday.
With the supply of doses running out, vaccination for people in the 18-44 category has been stopped at all the Delhi government vaccination centres for the last six days.
With today’s data, the recovery rate has increased to 90.80 per cent. Also, the weekly positivity rate is currently at 9.84%, daily at 8.36%, less than 10% for 5 consecutive days.
The Union Health Ministry Saturday said over 27.7 crore vaccine doses have been provided to states and union territories. Out of which, the total consumption, including wastages is 20,80,09,397 doses, it said. “Over 1.82 crore Covid vaccine doses are still available with the states/union territories. Over 4 lakh doses are in the pipeline and will be received by the states/UTs within the next 3 days,” the ministry said.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday, in what was their second meeting after they met on May 3 on the sidelines of the G-7 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in London.
The meeting, which was ongoing at press time, was expected to focus on vaccine cooperation between the two countries. While India is struggling with a shortage of vaccines, the US has surplus vaccines and raw materials needed to manufacture them.
At the beginning of the meeting, Blinken described Jaishankar as “my friend and colleague”. “The United States and India are working together on so many of the most important challenges of our time and ones that are putting a profound impact on our lives,” he said.
“We are united in confronting Covid-19 together, we (are) united in dealing with the challenge posed by climate change, to partner together directly, through Quad and other institutions in the United Nations in dealing with many of the challenges that we face in the region and around the world,” Blinken said.
Kerala, Mumbai ease inoculation for students headed abroad
Meanwhile, the Kerala Health Department Friday tweaked vaccination norms for those travelling abroad, allowing them to take the second dose of Covishield vaccine after four to six weeks of the first one, as against the existing 12-16-week interval recommended now. Last week, the state government had included those travelling abroad for jobs and studies among priority groups for vaccination, to be administered Covishield procured by the government.
In Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation also announced Friday that those going abroad for studies would be given priority among the 18-44-year age group for Covid-19 vaccination. The municipal corporation has set aside three days in the week (Monday to Wednesday) for their vaccination without pre-registration, at specified centres in Mumbai.
EVEN as the second Covid wave raged across the nation, the Uttarakhand government officially announced that on the three key days of the Kumbh, April 12, 13, and 14, a total of 49 lakh devotees had taken a dip in the Ganga at Har Ki Pauri and linked ghats in Hardwar.
Under fire for this gathering — the Uttarakhand High Court last week called holding Kumbh a “mistake” — officials in the state government and the district administration, after a detailed review, have assessed that the attendance figure was almost 70% down, to an estimated 15 lakh, for these three days.
When contacted, Sanjay Gunjyal, Inspector General of Police, Kumbh Mela, said: “The footfall on April 12 was only 21 lakh; on April 13 around 3 lakh and on April 14, about 12 lakh.”
Differences emerged between Opposition-ruled states and Centre as the discussion on granting further relief for Covid-related items, such as vaccines, medical supplies, reached an impasse in the 43rd Goods and Services Tax Council meeting on Friday. It has now been referred to a Group of Ministers, which will submit its recommendations by June 8.
The Council, which met after October 2020, discussed the issue of compensation payments, for which states raised concerns about the 7-per cent revenue growth assumption. A special session will be called soon for discussing compensation issues and the extension of guaranteed compensation period beyond June 2022. “It is one thing to rush to say — do this, it will benefit the common man. But when the technical, fitment and law committees go into the details, you realise that that could have collateral impact on many others. I am not talking about the revenue generation aspect, but how many other items will get included in it as a result of which, how you are going to implement it,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
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