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Approve vaccine cautiously: House panel | India News


NEW DELHI: The parliamentary standing committee on home, headed by Congress member Anand Sharma, has said the Centre took several steps much ahead of other countries to screen incoming traffic from abroad as the Covid pandemic broke but in-bound travellers were screened only for high temperature through March.
The panel said with no testing facility at airports, asymptomatic patients could escape detection “when they could practically be the only source of infection of Covid-19 in the country”.
Stating that migrant labour, factory workers and daily wage earners were worst affected by imposition of the lockdown, the panel blamed the lack of timely dissemination of information at the district level about the arrangements made by the civil administration for food, shelter and other facilities, for the anxiety that drove a large number of migrants back to their home states.
The report related to the government’s handling of the pandemic said the exodus of migrants stopped only when effective mitigating measures were taken by central and state governments.
The panel in its report presented to the Rajya Sabha chairman on Monday, recommended that an Aadhaar-linked national database of vulnerable sections of the society be prepared on priority so that in case of such a crisis in future, the government can reach out to them and provide ration and other facilities.
The panel recommended that the government draw up a national plan and guidelines under NDMA, 2005 and Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. Stating that the Epidemic Diseases Act helped in managing Covid-19 but was outdated, the panel recommended that the Act be revisited to equip it to respond to the challenges posed by the unanticipated onset of pandemics in future.
The panel underlined the need for a comprehensive Public Health Act, preferably at the national level, with suitable legal provisions to support the government in keeping checks on overcharging by private hospitals and black marketing of medicines. It was also of the view that patients’ feedback regarding treatment should be made essential in all public and private hospitals.
On impact of Covid on education facilities, the committee recommended a mix of online and classroom teaching for the higher classes, but advised against reopening of pre-primary and primary classes until a vaccine was available or the situation was under control. On development of vaccine, the panel said if at all emergency authorisation is given, it should be done with proper consideration and caution and invoked in rarest of rare cases.

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