parliament session that began this week is likely to be cut short after
30 MPs were found infected with the coronavirus, two senior parliament
officials said, as the number of cases in the country rose to 5.3mn.
The parliament met for the first time in six months on September 14 and was to function until October 1, but the two officials said its duration could be reduced by a week.
“Since the commencement of the session the number of positive cases have gone up so the government is thinking of cutting short the session,” said one of the two officials, who are involved in the functioning of parliament proceedings.
The government has also mandated daily tests for journalist entering parliament to cover the session from yesterday.
Piyush Soperna, joint director at the Rajya Sabha (upper house) secretariat, said in an e-mail response that it has no information on the issue of prematurely ending the parliament session next week.
India, which recorded 93,337 new infections in the last 24 hours, has been posting the highest single-day caseload in the world since early August.
India is the second-most badly hit country after United States with total recorded coronavirus cases at 5.3mn.
However, deaths in India have been relatively low.
The virus has killed 1,247 people in last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 85,619, government data showed yesterday.
The MPs who have been infected include Nitin Gadkari, highways and medium and small enterprises minister in Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s cabinet.
On Wednesday, the government ordered states not to hoard oxygen supplies and allow free movement to cope with the rising number of cases.
Yesterday Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal addressed 12 states and union territories and reviewed their oxygen availability. He requested them to focus on analysing district-level and health facility-level status and effectively plan and manage logistical issues related with its availability.
On September 15, the Health Ministry had clarified that there was no shortage of medical oxygen in the country. The ministry said there was a surplus of thousands of metric tonnes of oxygen. Medical oxygen is used for oxygen therapy in hospitals, and it is considered on par with a drug or a pharmaceutical product.
As part of the government’s co-ordinated strategy for effective containment and management of Covid-19, a high-level review meeting was chaired senior officials.
The states and UTs that participated in the conference included Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Chandigarh, Telangana, Kerala, Delhi, Punjab and West Bengal. About 80 per cent of the Covid caseload in the country is concentrated in these regions.
Goyal also urged the states to share their best practices which in turn can be emulated by other states and UTs in the country.
Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, while complementing the states for significantly ramping up testing, expressed concern that the case fatality rates of several states were still higher than the national average.
He urged the states to analyse deaths district-wise and hospital-wise for identification of critical areas of intervention. He also exhorted the states to ensure optimal utilisation of testing capacity.
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