DailyOh! Covid continues its rampage, to the Oxygen Express for Delhi

With the national capital reeling under rising Covid cases and lack of oxygen, Indian Railways has dispatched the Oxygen Express that will reach Delhi on Monday night.

 |  9-minute read |   26-04-2021
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If the week that went by was grim, the week that begun today is grimmer. The coronavirus caseload and death toll hit new records for a fifth straight day. The country faced over 3.52 lakh positive cases and 2,812 deaths in a single day. The total toll of Covid fatalities, as of Monday morning, stands at nearly 2 lakh. Maximum casualties were reported in Maharashtra (832), followed by Delhi with 350 daily deaths.

Before we proceed, there is a brand-new word of advice from the government: you should wear a mask even at home. For now and for the sake of brevity, we will not go into what the government's take on masks at political rallies is.

This is no record to be proud of and being Covid positive means a lot of physical, mental and emotional negativity. With a deluge of patients, shortage of medical oxygen, doctors themselves testing positive in droves, hospitals and medical care facilities across India are overwhelmed. And it is not just the hospitals. Crematoriums in the national capital have been burning corpses in such large numbers that now new platforms are being constructed at a park inside the crematorium to manage the influx of bodies.

Amid all this, governments are vying with each other on the vaccination front. Earlier, the Centre announced that everyone above 18 years of age would be inoculated from May 1. The Delhi government has decided to provide free vaccination for all and has ordered 1.34 crore doses. While the effort deserves to be applauded, the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in eating. The efforts are all good, but the execution is what matters.

main_kejriwal_pti_042621032751.jpgCM Arvind Kejriwal has announced that his government will provide free Covid vaccination to all citizens above 18 years. (Photo: PTI)

While the Delhi government is on a straight track, the Maharashtra government did U-turn minutes after announcing free vaccines. On Sunday, state Cabinet minister Aaditya Thackeray tweeted (and then deleted minutes after) that the state government has decided to vaccinate its citizens free of cost. 


He then deleted the tweet and apologised for creating “confusion". In his new post, he said that he did not want to create any confusion regarding the “official vaccination policy of Maharashtra." Faux pas of another level.


We hope, however, that the Delhi government sticks to its route with no U-turns and faux pas. The Delhi government, though, was pulled up by the High Court for the oxygen crisis in hospitals. The Court did not spare the Centre either and said that the responsibility lies with both the governments.

Speaking of oxygen (or the lack of it), the first Oxygen Express train for Delhi from Chhattisgarh, carrying around 70 tonnes of the life-saving gas will reach the city by Monday night.

main1_oxygen-express_042621033251.jpgLife-saving elixir: The Oxygen Express train. (Photo: Twitter/ @RailMinIndia)

This is not the first time that the Indian Railways has stepped up to a medical crisis. Earlier, empty coaches were being used as Covid isolation wards to handle the influx of patients. But did you know that Indian Railways has given the world its first hospital train?

India's only and the world's first hospital train, the Lifeline Express or Jeevan Rekha Express, is the hospital train that started running on July 16, 1991. Started as collaboration between the Impact India Foundation (IIF), Indian Railways (IR) and the Health Ministry, the project is funded by IIF and charity.

main_lifeline-expres_042621033402.jpgLifeline Express: providing free treatment to those in need. (File photo: Reuters)

It was started to provide on-the-spot diagnostic, medical and advanced surgical treatment for preventive and curative interventions for disabled adults and children. The train has two operation theatres with five operating tables in total, equipped with state-of-the-art medical technology. Besides this, the train also has an ophthalmologic testing room, a dental unit, a laboratory and an X-ray unit.

Where is the train stationed presently? In Assam's Badarpur junction, covering the country's remotest areas, providing free treatment to those in need. Three cheers to the Indian Railways!

From Assam to down south in Karnataka, where the state government has announced strict restrictions for the next two weeks after a massive surge in Corona cases. On Sunday, Karnataka was at the third spot among the states with the highest Covid cases with 29,438 new cases, behind Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

main_bengaluru-lockd_042621033528.jpgKarnataka government has announced strict restrictions for the next 14 days to curb the Covid spread. The photo is of Bengaluru under lockdown last year. (File photo: PTI)

Another rap on the knuckles came from Madras HC that has held the Election Commission responsible for the second Covid wave in the state for allowing political rallies during the pandemic. The Court has said that the officials should be 'booked for murder, probably'.

Amid the crisis that India and the hospitals in India are facing, the world is now standing with us. A glimmer of hope as we see the Vaccine Maitri being reciprocated as Oxygen Maitri. The US has already dispatched 318 oxygen concentrators to India, while the UK has promised life-saving medical equipment, including ventilators and oxygen concentrators. Furthermore, Australia has also promised to send oxygen, ventilators and PPEs to India as part of an immediate support package. Germany too has stepped in.

In a show of solidarity, as India fights Covid, landmark buildings in the UAE were illuminated with the Indian tricolour on Sunday; Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the Adnoc headquarters in Abu Dhabi among those.

main_burj-khalifa-tr_042621033810.jpgBurj Khalifa lit up with Indian tricolour in support of UAE's dost — India — amid the Covid-19 crisis. (Photo: IndiaInUAE/Twitter)

Call it yet another Maitri reciprocation, or as the Twitterati has it, #IndiaUAEDosti. Nothing better than friends rooting for each other in these grim times.

From all the grimness and the glimmer, let us add some glitter. Disco Dancer and BJP's star campaigner Mithun Chakraborty, who has been extensively campaigning across Bengal for the Assembly election, was seen wearing a mask on his nose, which also covered one of his eyes, but not his mouth. Oops!

main1_mithun-da-mask_042621034046.jpgCover your mouth, Mithun da! (Photo: Twitter/ @ItsYourDev)

And not the one to wait to take a dig, TMC was quick to respond. TMC youth leader Debangshu Bhattacharya, who wrote and composed the popular 'Khela Hobe' anthem, tweeted Mithun da’s gaffe photograph, and wrote, "Mithun da is teaching India how to wear a mask with Disco Dance style."

We expected better of you, Mithun da. Cover your nose, mouth and preferably your entire face with a shield the next time you are out to campaign. Even better, try virtual campaigning and save yourself and the thousands of those who come to your rallies. But there's good news: all campaigning in West Bengal ends today. The state has its last phase of polls on April 29, and then the results of all the khela on May 2.

Now, a break from all the Covid khela. The 93rd Academy Awards were announced in the early hours of Monday (IST). After bagging the Golden Globe, Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland bagged the Best Picture Oscar too. A worthy win and worth a watch.

The Academy also paid tribute to prominent Indian cinema personalities — Irrfan and Bhanu Athaiya in its In Memoriam segment.

main_irrfan-and-bhan_042621034233.jpgIrrfan and Bhanu Athaiya honoured in the In Memoriam segment at the 93rd Academy Awards. (Photo: India Today)

While Irrfan ruled our hearts with his acting, costume designer Bhanu Athaiya was the first Indian to win an Oscar, for her work in Sir Richard Attenborough's Gandhi. She passed on at the age of 91 on October 16 last year. Irrfan’s first death anniversary is just days away, April 29.

Now, it is but natural for you to ask about the other Indian cinema personalities who were cruelly snatched away from us last year. From Rishi Kapoor, Soumitra Chatterjee to the most devastating of all — Sushant Singh Rajput. Their contribution to the cinematic world was also recognised in the Academy’s A Look Back segment.

All the talk of Academy, but did you know where the Academy Awards come from? Or the origin of the word 'Academy'?

The most prestigious awards in the entertainment industry are awarded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Hence “Academy” Awards. But what does Academy mean? The dictionary defines our Word Of The Day academy as an institution of secondary or tertiary higher learning, research, or honorary membership. The word traces its origin to Akademia, the name of Plato's school of philosophy that was founded in 387 BC in Athens, Greece. The word also forms the root of other words like academia, academic, and more. In the present day, academia has come to mean the cultural accumulation of knowledge and an academy is any institution that facilitates it.

A little more of Oscar talk. Our recco today is Sound of Metal, the American drama film starring Riz Ahmed that comes with a long list of accolades including two Oscars. It is available on Amazon Prime Videos. It is the story of a drummer who loses his hearing and learns to get comfortable with the silence.

We hope you too find some comfort and solace in this raging pandemic.

Not a fan of movies? Sports are here to rescue. Besides the Covid wave, there is another wave that has been rocking India. Thankfully, this is not as devastating as Covid. The IPL wave.

You would have surely not missed the match yesterday where the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) spectacularly conquered the point table and reached the top after beating the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). All kudos to Ravindra Jadeja, who smashed an unbeaten 62 off 28 deliveries including 37 runs off the final over. "Sir" Jadeja single-handedly put CSK in a comfortable position by smashing five sixes, a four and two runs in the final over.

main_ravindra-jadeja_042621042615.jpgSir Jadeja clinched the coveted top spot on the points table for CSK after beating RCB. (Photo: iplt20.com)

Today the Punjab Kings (PBKS) will lock horns with the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) during the first match in the newly renovated Narendra Modi Stadium (formerly Motera Stadium) in Ahmedabad. Will this match be the game-changer for KKR who are presently struggling for form? Track the live updates here to find out

Watch the movie, watch the match, no matter what you watch, remember to stay at home and not venture out. Even if you absolutely have to step out, don’t be like Mithun da. Wear the mask properly.

Stay happy, stay safe, stay healthy.

We will be back tomorrow.

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Also Read: Battling Covid-19 second wave and strategies for combat


Rajeshwari Ganesan Rajeshwari Ganesan @rajeshwaridotg

Assistant Editor, DailyO

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