After Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the second phase of lockdown on April 14, he mentioned that there would be a relaxation in the restriction following April 20. He said that guidelines would be set out for relaxation, and it will be implemented based on the condition of India.
Following this, the Central Government came out with a list of economic activities that will be permitted after April 20, in certain areas intending to provide relief to farmers, labourers and daily wage earners along with containing the spread of the virus.
The Home Ministry, on April 15, issued an order delineating a list of activities that will be allowed to operate after April 20, 2020, and those which are obstructed amid the lockdown.
“The activities prohibited across the country include travel by air, rail and road; operation of educational and training institutions; industrial and commercial activities; hospitality services; all cinema halls, shopping complexes, theatres, etc, all social, political and other events, and opening of all religious places/ places of worship for members of public, including religious congregations,” read the order.
However, as Prime Minister announced that some relaxations would be permitted after April 20, based on carefully observing the performance of blocks, districts, states in tackling the coronavirus pandemic in their respective areas, the Home Ministry has issued guidelines regarding approval to certain economic activities from April 20, onwards.
The permitted activities from April 20, are aimed at ensuring that agricultural and related activities remain fully functional, the rural economy functions with the highest efficiency. Employment opportunities are created for daily wage earners and other members of the labour force, and select industrial activities are allowed to resume their operations, with adequate safeguards and mandatory standard operating protocols (SOPs) and the digital economy.
The Government has issued additional guidelines on April 17, allowing a few more activities for non-containment zones post-April 20. The Government’s citizen portal MyGov later shared on social media a list of activities that are authorized and the services which will remain shut as per the new guidelines.
The following economic activities will be allowed as they are critical for the agricultural sector and job creation while strictly adhering to orders in those areas where safety is eminent to contain the spread of COVID-19. State/UTs/district authorities will operationalise these based on compliance with existing guidelines. These will not apply to containment zones separated by respective states and UTs.
Here is a list of what will remain open all over India with effect from 20th April 2020.
This will NOT be applicable in the containment zones.
— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) April 18, 2020
Here is a complete list of activities that will be permitted, and that will remain shut post- April 20.
What is permitted amidst lockdown?
- Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and other RBI regulated financial markets and entities.
- Banks, ATM and IT vendors for banking operations
- Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and capital and debt market services.
- Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI) and insurance companies.
- Both electronic and print media
- IT services up to 50 per cent capacity
- Data and call centres for government activities
- Common Service Centres at panchayat level
- E-commerce companies, e-commerce functions for only essential items such as grocery, health care devices, cleaning supplies, sanitizers, etc.(updated at 4.30 PM | 19th April 2020)
- Courier services
- Cold storage and warehousing
- Private security and facilities management services; hotels, homestays, and others.
- Establishment for quarantine facilities
- Self-employed services like electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and others.
Movement of people
- Private vehicles for medical emergency services and for availing essential commodities
- In the case of a four-wheeler, one passenger in the back seat beside the driver is permitted.
- For two-wheelers, only one driver is permitted
- All personnel travelling to their workplace as exempted by State/UT/Local authority.
- Children’s Home, juveniles, divyang (handicapped), elderly, and others, including observation homes and aftercare homes.
- Payment of social security pensions and PF by EPFO
- Operation of Anganwadis
- Farming operations in fields
- Operation of agencies engaged in getting agro products
- Machinery shops, Custom hiring centres
- Services related to fertilizers and seeds
- Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) markets and Mandis
- Direct marketing operations for agriculture
- Harvesting and sowing
- Functioning of fishing like processing and sales; hatcheries, commercial aquaria.
- Plantations of tea, coffee and rubber are allowed with a maximum 50 per cent workers
- Animal husbandry including distribution and sale of milk products, animal shelter homes, etc.
- Functioning of hospitals, nursing homes
- Operation of Telemedicine facilities, medical shops and dispensaries
- Medical research, COVID-19 related labs and collection centres
- Authorized private establishments
- Veterinary hospitals, dispensaries and clinics, sale and supply of vaccine and medicines.
- Operation of manufacturing units, medical devices and construction of health infrastructure.
- Allowed movement of all medical personnel, scientists, nurses, paramedical staff, lab technicians.
- Industries in rural areas, SEZ and export-oriented units
- Industrial estates and industrial townships
- Manufacturing units of essential goods
- Industries producing IT hardware
- Food processing units, jute industries
- Coal and mineral production, O&G refinery and brick kilns in rural areas
- Construction activities including roads, irrigation projects, renewable energy projects and construction projects in municipalities
Cargo and Essential services
- Operation of all cargo (inter & intra State) by air, rail, land and sea routes.
- Operation of all trucks and other goods/carrier vehicles with two drivers and one helper subject to the driver carries a valid driving licence.
- An empty truck/vehicle will be allowed to ply after the delivery of goods, or for pick up of goods.
- The supply chain of essential goods, including manufacturing, wholesale, retail, shops/ carts.
- Large bricks and mortar stores, dhabas and truck repair shops on the highway, movement of staff and contractual labourers for the operation of essential services including railways, airports/air carriers, seaports/ships/vessels, land ports, and ICDs is allowed
- Collection, harvesting and processing of Minor Forest Produce (MPF), non-timber forest produce (NTFPs)also known as non-wood forest products (NWFPs) by Scheduled Tribes (ST) and forest dwellers.
- Bamboo, coconut, areca nut, cocoa, spices plantations and their harvesting sale and marketing.
- Non-bank financial institution’s (NBFCs) including Housing Finance and Micro Finance Companies with bare minimum staff, Cooperative Credit Societies
- Construction activities in rural areas to include water supply and sanitation, power, telecom and cable lines.
— MyGovIndia (@mygovindia) April 17, 2020
What will remain closed?
- Domestic and international air travel
- Passenger trains, buses, metro, taxis
- Inter-state transport except for security and medical purposes
- Industrial and commercial activities
- Hospitality services
- Educational, training and coaching institutions etc.
- Cinema halls, malls, gyms, bars, pools, entertainment parks, assembly halls, etc.
- All social, political, entertainment, sports, complexes, religious places and other gatherings.
What is a hotspot?
Hotspots are areas of large COVlD-19 outbreaks or clusters with a significant spread of COVlD-19. The State, UT and district administrations are to decide the hotspots across the country.
What will operate in hotspots?
This will be determined based on the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India (Gol). The exemptions given after April 20 will not apply to hotspots. Furthermore, the State/UT/Local authority will have to demarcate the containment zones in hotspots.
Strict boundary control has to be put in place to ensure no unchecked inward, outward movement is carried out except for essential services including medical and law enforcement services permitted in these zones.
The areas where limited movement is permitted will face similar measures in case if a COVID-19 positive case is reported.
The Government had also issued detailed guidelines and preventive measures that need to be followed by workplaces and manufacturing industries including compulsion of wearing facemasks, avoid overcrowing of elevators, disinfecting the premises at regular interviews and mandatory thermal screening of workers at large establishments.
The penalty for the violation for lockdown is based on the Disaster Management Act of 2005. Any person found violating the lockdown rules will be charged under the provisions of Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, besides legal action under Sec. 188 of the IPC, and other legal provisions as applicable.
Hypocrisy of Federalism: Reply on Oxygen Related Deaths
On Tuesday, the Union Health Ministry reported to the Parliament that no deaths were recorded due to a lack of oxygen across the country during the second wave of the pandemic.
The officials and ministers in eight states also denied fatalities due to the lack of oxygen. Whereas reports indicate that approximately 320 patients may have died in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic due to oxygen shortage.
The report by the Union Health Ministry to the Parliament has triggered massive criticism across the country. It has also prompted some significant accusations against the Bhartiya Janata Party [BJP].
The denial of the officials and ministers of the eight states regarding the same has also triggered a major rebuttal from within their parties, accusing them of aiding the Centre in hiding oxygen-related deaths.
According to a volunteer-driven data collation effort, DataMeet, Media from across 20 states report that there were approximately 619 deaths recorded due to lack of oxygen. However, later the cause of deaths was disputed with other factors that attributed to the fatalities.
The state health minister of Maharashtra, Rajesh Tope also sided with the Centre’s stand of no-oxygen-related deaths.
“As far as Maharashtra is concerned, we have never said that any death due to oxygen shortage,” he said to a local TV channel on Wednesday.
However, in April and May, the shortage of oxygen supply in the state had prompted the Chief Minister, Mr. Uddhav Thackeray, to request the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to inspect the proposal of pressing the Indian Air Force to arrange additional oxygen supplies for the state.
A medical board in Hisar- a region in Haryana, had openly established oxygen shortage as a cause of deaths in the region.
Additionally, after an inquiry, 22 patients succumbed to Covid due to the lack of oxygen in Haryana.
According to the reports of DataMeet, figures indicated that approximately 68 deaths took place across the state of Madhya Pradesh due to lack of oxygen.
However, Vishwas Sarang, the medical education Minister, stated, “We received at least 10-12 complaints related to deaths due to oxygen supply disruption. Medical experts found the cause of death was other medical complications, not hypoxia,”
In Goa, between May 10- May 14, approximately 83 patients succumbed to death.
But according to Dr Shivanand Bandekar, the Dean of Goa Medical College and Hospital stated, “We can’t put this as a direct answer. People who come to GMC, they are all referred because we are a tertiary (care) center where criticality is high and most of the patients die because of Covid pneumonia where oxygen is a part of the treatment. So we cannot directly say this (disruption in the oxygen supply) is the reason why they have died,”
However, during the hearing at Goa at the time of these deaths, the state government had admitted that “some of the casualties may have taken place” due to supply disruption.
Within the same hearing, the Bombay High Court had said, “We have long passed the stage of determining whether patients are suffering from the lack of oxygen or not. The material placed before us establishes that patients are indeed suffering and even in some cases succumbing for want of the supply of oxygen, in the State of Goa.”
Officials and ministers of several states like West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh took a similar stand while siding with the Centre on their “no deaths due to Oxygen shortage” statement.
Even though various reports and data reflect a significant number of deaths due to a shortage of oxygen supply within different states, the Center and the state officials have refused to acknowledge them and have denied that these fatalities are attributed to the lack of oxygen supply.
Health Activist Amulya Nidhi from Madhya Pradesh, claims that volunteer groups from across the country have clear case studies and data that report deaths of patients across various states due to a lack of oxygen supply. “If they are so sure about it, they should allow an independent team of experts to probe the matter,” he said.
Why Are people Not Taking Covid Vaccine?
Since the beginning of the Pandemic in 2020, all people have wanted is to find a way back to normal. A way from virtual lives to real, social lives. Being trapped at home with limited movement has been fun for no one. And yet, when a solution is finally being offered, people are hesitant to embrace it. Vaccines are the solution to once and for all immunise us against this virus, but many people fail to embrace the cure. Even though the vaccination reduces risks in exposure to the mutating variants of the Novel Coronavirus, there are people reluctant to take the possibly life-saving shot.
A vaccine race began throughout the world to curb the spread of Covid, India being one of the leaders. Immunisation is proven to be the most successful means to prevent diseases. Still, there is always hesitance that follows with the process. Many reasons cause vaccine hesitancy, but three of the main reasons are inadequate knowledge and fear of side effects, the speed of vaccine development, and rumours and myths.
The biggest fear that prevents people from taking the vaccine is a fear of side effects caused by inadequate knowledge. Many of us might show reluctance in taking the vaccine, fearing the severity of side effects. This tends to happen because most people do not understand how a vaccine works and nudges our bodies to create antibodies in our system to immunise us to the virus.
Many people reason that the side effects make them sick when they have been in perfect health for so long. They believe that it is the vaccine that makes them sick. This cannot be further from the truth. The public needs to be made aware of the workings of the vaccine to promote the vaccination drive around the world.
The other cause for hesitancy is the speed at which the vaccines have been developed. Many people believe that simply because the development speed of Covid immunising shots was quicker as compared to past viruses, corners have been cut in the process. It is essential to know that this is not true as all the procedures have been followed during the development of vaccines. None of them have been permitted for distribution without clinical trials and the approval of the FDA.
The last reason is that of rumours and myths. The rural population, a key demographic in our country, is reluctant to take the vaccine due to a lack of information provided to them. The inadequacy makes them quick to believe in rumours and myths surrounding immunisation, consequently making them reluctant to participate in the process. Reports of death post the vaccine have fanned the rumour mills in rural areas regarding the fatality of the vaccine.
Hesitancy in vaccination can also be seen in another key demographic, women. The proof for this in India is the disparity in men’s vaccination ratios which are starkly contrasting. Rumours and myths surrounding vaccines have led the population to believe that taking the jab affects fertility in women. It is essential to know that vaccinations do not cause infertility in men or women. It is this kind of rumour-mongering that causes fear in people.
Misleading tweets by prominent figures also cause vaccine hesitancy. One prime example is senior advocate Prashant Bushan, whose tweets about the efficacy and safety of covid vaccines were tagged as “misleading” by Twitter.
Misinformation being spread by prominent people is another cause of reluctance in people not taking the vaccine, which must be stopped to defeat the Pandemic.
Many people who have already suffered from Coronavirus also believe that they do not need the vaccine as they are already immune to the disease. This is a falsehood that needs to be cleared as a vaccine prolongs the effectiveness of the immunisation, keeping the person safe for a more extended period.
Vaccines are preventative medicines that allow us to acquire immunity against the virus, preparing our bodies to protect us in case of exposure to the disease. While vaccination may not provide complete safety, it reduces the severity of the infection and the chances of death.
With newer and stronger variants emerging as mutations of the Coronavirus, all of us must be fully vaccinated. It is the only way to ensure the safety of ourselves and those around us. It is also the only way to make a return slowly but surely to what we knew as “normal” and stop living life as we have known for the past one and a half years.
"No one from govt has come to visit us or order an enquiry into my wife's death.I still curse myself for persuading my wife to take the vaccine.I thought it would save us from the virus, but it killed her".
The govt is not monitoring adverse events from vaccine nor releasing data pic.twitter.com/pcJv9cqUYW
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) June 28, 2021
ZyCov-D Proposed As World’s First DNA COVID Vaccine
With the Delta Variant setting its wave globally, ZyCoV-D, India’s first Plasmid DNA Covid-19 vaccine, is in the running for an Emergency Use Authorization from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). Vaccine maker Zydus Cadila, which already has anti-Covid treatments on the market, claims to have conducted the largest clinical trial in India so far at over 50 centres, with over 28,000 volunteers ranging in age from 12 to 18 years old.
According to the firm, with its 66.6 per cent effectiveness for RT-PCR positive patients in the interim study, ZyCov-D has already demonstrated solid immunogenicity, tolerance, and safety profile. It went on to say that no moderate instances of Covid-19 were seen in the vaccination arm after the third dose was administered, indicating a 100 per cent effectiveness for mild illness.
What is Zydus’ approach?
By mid-August, the business intended to be manufacturing 10 million doses each month, according to managing director Sharvil Patel. “We are currently only focusing our efforts on making sure we can make doses available for India,” Patel said in a virtual news conference. If the injection is approved, it will become the country’s sixth vaccination to be approved for use.
Patel added that data on immunogenicity for the adolescent children subgroup would be submitted in the next four to six weeks.
The pharmaceutical company has also provided data on a two-dose regimen for the injection.
What are DNA vaccines?
ZyCoV-D, if authorized, will be the world’s first DNA vaccine, according to Zydus, since it uses a piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic code – DNA or RNA – to trigger an immune response against the virus’s spike protein.
How are DNA vaccines Different from mRNA vaccines?
In contrast to the viral vector vaccines or inactivated vaccines like Covishield and Covaxin, DNA and RNA vaccines trigger an immune response by using a portion of the virus’s genes.
The distinction between DNA and RNA vaccinations is that the latter is passed on to a different molecule known as messenger RNA. The DNA vaccination also uses a tiny electrical pulse to convey the message to the cell.
DNA and RNA vaccines are less expensive than standard protein vaccinations. They are praised for their efficacy and capacity to be produced more quickly. Because DNA and RNA vaccines rely on genetic code rather than a live virus or bacterium. They may theoretically be made more widely available.
According to research published in the medical journal Frontiers in Immunology in 2019, “preclinical andclinical trials have shown that mRNA vaccines provide a safe and long-lasting immune response inanimal models and humans.”
According to WHO, DNA vaccines have a variety of potential advantages over traditional methods, including activation of both B and T cell responses and improved vaccine durability.
Is ZyCov-D needle-free?
A needle-free injectable method is reported to be used to deliver ZyCoV-D. (NFIS). In most NFISs, a jet of fluid is accelerated to a high enough speed to penetrate the skin through a tiny diameter nozzle. The vaccination may have a greater acceptance rate among youngsters who are afraid of needles, according to Sharvil Patel, managing director of Cadila Healthcare.
The three doses of Zycov-D should be given on days 0, 28, and 56, according to Zydus Cadila. The firm is, however, working on a two-dose vaccination.
According to the company’s information, the vaccine candidate may be stored for a long time at two to eight degrees Celsius and for a brief time at 25 degrees Celsius.
What does the Government have to say about the indemnity of the Vaccine?
The Government is still deliberating whether vaccine makers should be indemnified, as Pfizer and Moderna have asked. While a final decision is still pending, key authorities have stated that there is agreement.
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