India should lower the age for vaccination to 18 years to include all adults for inoculation as that is the only solution at this point to break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus, which is fast-spreading, said Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia told CNN-News18 on Tuesday.
Speaking to Marya Shakil, Sisodia urged the Centre and the CBSE to “think out of the box” for such an extraordinary circumstance as the new variant of the coronavirus is affecting the young people more. “Both, the career and life of students are at stake amid this second wave of Covid-19 infection, so we have to choose which one we must prioritise," he said
“Despite taking all kinds of precautions, at least 10 to 15 cases are emerging from each school in Delhi, so it is very important to keep our children safe so that’s why we think we must consider other ways of conducting the CBSE examinations without making students suffer. Why can’t we think out of the box? If classes can be conducted online then why can’t exams,” he asked.
“No one knows what is in store for us regarding the virus. The schools reopened to hold the practical exams, which resulted in scores of Covid-19 cases being reported from the schools. So, even after this, if we decide to hold examinations offline then we are playing with the lives of children,” he said.
Sisodia asserted that to tackle the crisis of rapid spread of the virus, the Centre has to first “acknowledge” the problem. He said, “States are ready to give ideas, but ultimately the CBSE has to take a call. There could be nth number of ways. In fact, I any way do not endorse the system of judging a student’s capability based on a 3-hour exam at the end of the year. This is unfair to a child. Plus, extraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary decision. Besides, first let us accept that there is a problem. If we don’t acknowledge the problem then I think it reeks of too much arrogance. We should think beyond this.”
When asked about facilities for the non-Covid patients since some of the major private and government hospitals in the national capital have been turned into Covid-19 centers, the Delhi Minister said, “Like last year, we categorically mentioned that emergency surgeries or treatments will have to be carried out. However, the scheduled ones can be deferred. We have allowed 20% non-COVID emergency services in all hospitals. Besides, not all private and public hospitals have been declared as COVID centers. “
Regarding the shortage of vaccines being reported from several states, Sisodia said, “Delhi doesn’t have a separate store for the vaccine. It doesn’t work like that. It’s a supply-based thing. So far, Delhi has enough vaccines based on the supply. But, this is just for people above 45 years of age. We are repeatedly requesting the Centre to relax the protocols to include 18-year-old adults for vaccination. This has to be done on a nationwide basis otherwise the chain of transmission cannot be broken.”
Regarding the fear among migrant workers over another lockdown in Delhi, Sisodia said, “When the lockdown was imposed last year, it was an unprecedented situation. We didn’t even have PPE kits, leave aside other medical facilities. So, today lockdown is not the solution but large-scale vaccination is. So, we want to assure people that the Delhi government is not considering any lockdown.”
Reeling under the fourth wave of COVID-19, the national capital on Tuesday recorded the highest-ever spike of 13,468 cases and 81 deaths due to the infection, giving it the dubious distinction of being the worst affected city in the county. The highest single-day spike in Mumbai stands at 9,986 cases till date, followed by Bengaluru (6,387 cases), Chennai (2,105) and Kolkata ( 1,271 cases).
In the wake of an exponential rise in coronavirus cases in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to the Centre to cancel the Class 10 and 12 board exams and explore alternative methods, including online exams. Warning that conducting the exams may contribute to the large-scale spread of the virus, he said the centres could emerge as major hotspots.
“Six lakh children in Delhi are going to write CBSE exams. Nearly one lakh teachers will be a part of it. These (the centres) can become major hotspots leading to large-scale spreading of corona. Children’s lives and health are very important to us. I request the Centre to cancel the CBSE exams," he said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. The CBSE Class 10 and 12 exams are scheduled to begin on May 4. With the exponential increase in coronavirus cases, the chorus for cancellation or postponing the board exams is growing On Tuesday, the positivity rate rose to 13.14 percent from 12.44 percent a day ago.
The 81 deaths are the highest since December 3 when 82 deaths were recorded. The national capital had recorded 131 COVID-19 deaths on November 19, the highest single-day fatality count till date. From April 4 to April 13, Delhi has recorded 77,775 COVID-19 cases, witnessing a massive rise of 234 per cent. During the same period, 376 people have died due to the disease.