All precautions taken, situation being monitored: Hardeep Singh Puri on new Covid variant in Singapore
New Delhi/IBNS: Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said the Centre is taking all precautions and keeping a close eye on the situation in Singapore, responding to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's tweet asking for suspension of all flights to and from that country.
"Kejriwal ji, all international flights have been suspended since March 2020. We also do not have an air bubble with Singapore," Puri wrote in his response.
Only some flights are operating under the Vande Bharat mission between the two countries to bring back the stranded Indians, he said.
"We are still monitoring the situation and all precautions are being taken," he added.
केजरीवाल जी, मार्च 2020 से ही अंतर्राष्ट्रीय उड़ानें बंद हैं। सिंगापुर के साथ एयर बबल भी नहीं है।— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) May 18, 2021
बस कुछ वन्दे भारत उड़ानों से हम वहाँ फँसे भारतीय लोगों को वापस लाते हैं। ये हमारे अपने ही लोग हैं।
फिर भी स्थिति पर हमारी नज़र है। सभी सावधानियाँ बरती जा रही हैं। pic.twitter.com/wOZMX0Q5CK
India stopped all scheduled international passenger flights on March 23, 2020, as Covid-19 pandemic gripped the world.
Government operated only special international passenger flights under the Vande Bharat Mission from May last year. In July 2020, India entered into air bubble agreements with around 27 nations to fly passengers to and from those countries.
Meanwhile, the number of domestic passengers dropped 26.8 per cent in April 2021 to around 57.25 lakh from 78.22 lakh in March, Indian aviation regulator DGCA said today.
The dip in domestic passengers has been attributed to the deadly second wave of coronavirus, which has badly hit the civil aviation sector.
In February, 78.27 lakh people travelled by air within the country, the DGCA said.
Earlier today, Kejriwal flagged the coronavirus variant found in Singapore which, he said, is proving to be "extremely dangerous" for children and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government to prioritise vaccination drive for children.
The Delhi Chief Minister's warning follows apprehensions raised over a third wave, which many experts have said may target children.
The first wave affected the elderly the most, while the younger people have contracted the infection in the second wave, they underscored.
The national capital is gradually plateauing the curve of new infections and there are more recoveries now.
The daily figure of fresh coronavirus cases has dropped from the highest recorded last month at over 28,000 to below 5,000 recorded on Tuesday.
Countries like Singapore and Taiwan, who were praised for containing Covid-19, are clamping strict restrictions now on travel between each other, according to a report in Hindustan Times.
Further, Singapore has made 'work from home compulsory' and seven schools are imparting home-based education in a bid to isolate those infected, as it reimposes lockdown-like measures like last year, it added.
Singapore is now gearing up to vaccinate all those below 16 years while trying to break the chain of infection.
The latest curbs were imposed on May 13 and will remain in effect till June 13, the report said.
On April 29, Singapore had recorded the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the last nine months, prompting the authorities to tighten measures to contain the virus.
Vaccination of children
Meanwhile, Dr VK Paul, member (health) of Niti Aayog, said on Tuesday that Bharat Biotech will launch the phase II and III clinical trials for Covaxin in children between the ages of 2 to 18 years in the next 10-12 days.
Covaxin has been approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), for Phase II/III clinical trials in the age group of 2 to 18 years. I have been told that trials will begin in the next 10-12 days," Paul said during a press conference, reported Hindustan Times.
On May 11, Drugs Controller General of India's (DCGI) gave its nod to conduct clinical trials in children.
DGCI gave the permission based on the recommendations by the subject expert committee (SEC) of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation’s (CDSCO), which signalled the trial subject to certain conditions, the report said.
The clinical trials in India are expected to be conducted in 525 participants at multiple hospitals, the HT report said.
The US and Canada have already approved the Pfizer-BioNTech shots for ages 12-15 and started vaccinating them from May 14.
Canada,too, had approved the Pfizer jabs for this age group on May 5.
Meanwhile, the European Medical Agency is also measuring the efficacy of the use of Pfizer vaccines in beneficiaries below 18 years of age.