Respond within 7 days on encephalitis deaths: SC to Centre, Bihar, UP govts

Agencies
June 24, 2019

New Delhi, Jun 24: The Supreme Court on Monday sought a response within seven days from the Centre and the Bihar government on the issue of the deaths of more than 100 children in Muzaffarpur due to the outbreak of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES).

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and B R Gavai also asked the Uttar Pradesh government to file a response on the deaths from the disease in the state. The bench directed the Bihar government to file an affidavit on the adequacy of medical facilities, nutrition and sanitation and the hygiene conditions in the state.

During the hearing, one of the lawyers informed the court that similar deaths had occurred earlier in Uttar Pradesh. The court took note of it and directed the state government to file its response as well. The matter has been posted for hearing after 10 days. The petition was filed by an advocate, Manohar Pratap, who said he was deeply pained and saddened by the deaths of more than 126 children, mostly in the age group of one to 10 years, in the past weeks. The figures were rising day by day, the petition stated.

"The deaths of children are a direct result of negligence and inaction on the part of the respective state governments of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Union of India in handling the epidemical situation which arises every year due to outbreak of AES also called Japanese encephalitis," the plea said. It claimed thousands of young children were losing their lives yearly from the disease but the governments (states and Centre) had done nothing to prevent its spread.

"This year i.e in 2019, the epicentre of the said disease is Muzaffarpur in Bihar where more than 126 children have lost their lives in past one week. Media reports shows that there is acute shortage of doctors, medical facilities, intensive care units and other medical equipments in the hospitals in nearby areas and children are dying in hospitals due to lack of required facilities," the petition said.

The petitioner also sought directions for all possible steps to stop the disease outbreak in the earlier epicentre, Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, and to create awareness about preventive steps and first-aid. He has asked for a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to members of the family of the deceased who have died due to negligence of the state machinery.

The petitioner sought a direction to the Centre for constituting a board of medical experts and immediately sending it to Muzaffarpur. He asked the apex court to direct the Centre and the Bihar government for immediately arranging 500 stationary and 100 mobile intensive care units with required medical professionals to deal with the patients from the remote areas and the emergency situation which occurred due to the AES outbreak.

Symptoms of AES include high fever, convulsions and extremely low blood sugar levels. Among the factors said to trigger the syndrome are malnutrition. There were more than 44,000 cases and nearly 6,000 deaths from encephalitis in India between 2008 and 2014, said a 2017 study published in The Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR).

Researchers said the patients often report acute onset of fever and altered consciousness, with a rapidly deteriorating clinical course, leading to death within hours. Litchis grown in Muzaffarpur, the country's largest litchi cultivation region, are said to contain a toxin which can cause a drop in blood sugar levels if consumed by a malnourished child.

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Agencies
January 3,2021

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Lucknow, Jan 3: After controversial legislation on Love Jihad, the Yogi Adityanath government is all set to keep the communal cauldron boiling as it is contemplating to bring a Bill to regulate and control the religious places on private and public land.

Highly placed sources in the government said that a presentation regarding this was made before Chief Minister recently.

"He has approved it and suggested some minor changes. The law department will incorporate these changes in the draft bill " the official said.

This is the second time when such a move has been initiated. Earlier, Ram Prakash Gupta government in 2000 had brought a bill on similar lines called 'UP Regulation of Public Religious Building and Places Bill Bill 2000'. The bill was passed by the state assembly despite protests by the Opposition. However, when it went for the assent of Raj Bhawan, the then governor Suraj Bhan sent it to the President for his consent.

The Presidential consent never came and the Bill failed to turn into an Act for implementation.

The sources say that the new law is likely to be called 'Uttar Pradesh Regulation and Registration of Religious Places' and would be moved by the religious affairs department after it is vetted by the department of law .

"The new law is aimed at regulating the functioning of all religious places. This is being done after reports of misappropriation of funds have increased. Besides, there are reports of religious places are being constructed without taking permission, " the official said.

This bill will also regulate the use of building as public religious place or the construction of religious places.

"The motive of this bill is to spread communal hatred. This bill will stop members of a particular community to construct their religious place," Amarnath Agarwal,  a senior Congress leader said.

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News Network
January 17,2021

New Delhi, Jan 17: A total of 2,24,301 beneficiaries have been inoculated with Covid-19 vaccine so far, out of which only 447 adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) were reported, the Union Health Ministry said on day two of the nationwide vaccination drive on Sunday.

Addressing a press briefing, the ministry's Additional Secretary Manohar Agnani said out of the 447 adverse events following immunisation, only three required hospitalisation.

"Today being Sunday, only six states conducted vaccination drive and in 553 sessions a total of 17,072 beneficiaries were vaccinated," he said.

The six states where the vaccination drive was carried out on Sunday are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur and Tamil Nadu, he added.

Agnani said a total of 2,24,301 beneficiaries have been vaccinated till January 17 as per provisional reports, adding that 2,07,229 of them received the jabs on day one of the drive.

"A total of 447 AEFI have been reported on January 16 and 17, out of which only three required hospitalisation. Most of the AEFI reported so far are minor like fever, headache, nausea," he said.

He said a meeting was held with all states and union territories on Sunday to review the progress of the drive, identify bottlenecks and plan corrective actions.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out the world's largest inoculation drive against Covid-19 on Saturday and said the two vaccines being deployed will ensure a "decisive victory" for India against the pandemic.

India has approved two vaccines — Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech and Covishield from the Oxford/AstraZeneca stable being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India — for emergency use in the country.

According to the government, the shots will be offered first to an estimated one crore healthcare workers and around two crore frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities.  

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Agencies
January 9,2021

New Delhi, Jan 9: The government on Friday issued guidelines for the packaging and transportation of COVID-19 vaccines by air, directing the airport authorities and airlines to use dry ice as the refrigerant material during the transportation in order to maintain the low temperatures between -8° C to -70° C.

"The temperature maintenance requirement for COVID-I9 vaccines is reported to be varying from -8° C to -70° C and hence, the use of refrigerant material during the transportation becomes essential," noted Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in the guideline.

"Though there may be different refrigerant options, use of dry ice (Carbon Dioxide Solid) is the most commonly used, affordable and readily available refrigerant material available in the country for transportation of perishables by air," it stated further,
The DGCA said the vaccines packed in dry ice should ideally be transported in the lower deck of the aircraft, but if the airline wishes to transport them in the passenger cabin, then the flight crew must be properly trained on the hazards and risks of its transportation.

"The operator should take all necessary steps to ensure that the flight crew is not harmed by carbon dioxide incapacitation or intoxication. Flight crew should be properly trained on the hazards and risks of transporting dry ice and on the procedures related to the operation. Any other occupants on-board should only be allowed if required under demonstrated urgent operational needs (for example, additional flight crew for the return flight or additional persons needed for the cargo handling)," it stated.

The guidelines noted that dry ice transforms into carbon dioxide gas at temperatures higher than -78 degrees Celsius under normal atmospheric pressure and, therefore, it is classified as "dangerous goods" by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), therefore, "adequate number of carbon dioxide detectors should be available in the cabin."

"Such detectors should be located at locations for timely and reliable detection of a dangerous concentration of carbon dioxide," it added.

It further directed the operators, while engaging in the transportation of COVID-19 vaccines, "to establish the maximum quantity of dry ice that can be loaded in a given cargo hold or in the main deck (passenger cabin) when a passenger version is deployed for all cargo operations."

Government sources on Thursday said the government has allowed passenger aircraft to transport vaccines.

"Pune will be the central hub from where vaccine distribution will take place. 41 destinations across the country finalised for delivery of vaccines," they stated.

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