With the demand for vaccines increasing, the Centre Friday announced a plan to double by May-June the Covaxin production capacity of Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, including a grant of Rs 65 crore for building a new production facility in Bengaluru. On Friday, as the country registered a record 2,17,353 new cases and 1,185 deaths, several states reported shortage of oxygen supply due to the surge. Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a review meeting on the current situation of oxygen supply and projected use over the next 15 days in 12 high-incidence states — Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.
Meanwhile, a day after the death of the head of the Maha Nirvani Akhada from Madhya Pradesh, who had arrived for the Kumbh and tested positive for the coronavirus, several akhadas at the Mela on Friday rushed to take precautionary steps. The Niranjani Akhada and Taponidhi Shri Anand Panchayati Akhada announced symbolic participation at the next shahi snan on April 27, “with a minimum possible number of sadhus”. Both also urged their followers to leave and quarantine at their ashrams.
At least 59 saints have tested positive so far, including the president of the Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad, apart from more than 200 pilgrims (of 1.54 lakh tested), even as officials fumble before the impossible task of keeping the virus out at a gathering that has seen crowds up to 32 lakh.