The country reported 188 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Saturday. India is seeing a surge in COVID-19 deaths after the country touched a low of less than 100 deaths per day in February.
Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh continue to report a spike in new cases. Amid the surge, doctors have requested the Central government to expand the vaccination cover to include caregivers of patients who are bed ridden.
Here are the latest updates:
New infections scale fresh peak
A year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a ‘janta curfew’ that ended up being a prelude to the national lockdown on March 25 last year, new daily cases skyrocketed to 43,846 — a new high for this year. This took the number of confirmed infections in India to nearly 11.6 million.
Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh accounted for 77.7% of the new cases in the last 24 hours. Maharashtra reported 27,126 cases followed by Punjab with 2,578 and Kerala with 2,078 cases. – Jacob Koshy
Centre warns of ‘potential upsurge’ in cases at Kumbh Mela
A team of the Health Ministry has reported that nearly 10 to 20 pilgrims and 10 to 20 locals at the Kumbh Mela, ongoing in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, are being reported COVID-19 positive everyday. Such a rate had the potential to rapidly turn into an ‘upsurge’ of cases.
The Uttarakhand government had also been told that the daily testing numbers being reported in Haridwar, around 50,000 rapid antigen tests and 5000 RT PCR test, were inadequate given the expected number of pilgrims to the Kumbh Mela.
The team, led by Sujeet Kumar Singh, Director, National Centres of Disease Control (NCDC) in Delhi, had visited Uttarakhand on March 16 and 17 to review the medical and public health preparedness measures undertaken by the State for the festival.
Positivity rate crosses 1%, daily cases at 3-month high
The surge in new COVID-19 cases continued in Delhi on Saturday with 813 fresh infections reported in the last 24 hours — the highest so far this year. The case tally now stands at 6,47,161.
Saturday’s daily-case count is the highest in nearly three months. On December 24, 2020, 1,063 infections were reported.
Two deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 10,955. Of the total cases, 6,32,797 people have recovered and there are now 3,409 active cases. The number of active cases has also been steadily rising for more than two weeks now.
As per the health bulletin on Saturday, a total of 75,888 tests were done in a day.
The number of daily cases had dropped below 100 in January. It crossed the 200 mark in the last week of February and has been increasing since then. On January 16, the number of new cases was 94. It increased to 200 on February 24.
‘Child labour increased after COVID-19’
A rapid survey conducted by Campaign against Child Labour has found that there has been an increase in engagement of child labour following the COVID-19 pandemic here.
Campaign against Child Labour is a group 24 non-governmental organisations and they conducted the survey among 818 children to study the impact of child labour following the COVID-19 pandemic. The group divided Tamil Nadu into five zones – North, East, Central, West and South.
According to the survey, child labour increased by 280% among vulnerable communities.
There was rapid increase in the North, South and West zones and it was lower in Central and East zones.
Schools in T.N. to be shut for Classes 9 to 11
The Tamil Nadu government has announced that schools will be closed for Classes 9, 10 and 11 from March 22 until further orders. Hostels will also be shut, according to an order issued by the Revenue and Disaster Management Department.
The order also said the conduct of the examinations for Class 10 students of boards other than the State Board and special classes and hostels for them will be permitted.
With COVID-19 case clusters increasing in the State, the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine has said it is not advisable to continue in-person learning for students of Classes 9 to 11.
However, Class 12 students who have to sit for the board examination can be permitted to have in-person learning since the number will be fewer. But they will have to comply with all the standard operating procedures, the Directorate has said. Intense testing and contact-tracing are under way, besides micro-containment in zones where clusters have sprung up.
The emergence of clusters at a few schools has prompted the decision.
HSR Layout, R.R. Nagar, Bellandur among wards with most cases in Bengaluru
As Karnataka joins four other States in making up for 80% of new infections in India, Bengaluru is beginning to witness a repeat of scenes from last year when COVID-19 was on a steady rise.
In the last 10 days, 10 wards in particular reported the most number of cases: Arakere, Begur, HSR Layout, Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Bellandur, Shantalanagar, Hagadur, Doddanekundi, Banaswadi and New Thippasandra.
However, the BBMP seems to have no specific plans for these wards. BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad said the same plan put in place for other wards will be applicable to these as well. “We are focussing on more testing and more vaccination,” he said.
Though the city has been the primary contributor to the caseload throughout the pandemic, the marked increase in the last few days is raising concerns. On Saturday, 1,186 new positive cases were reported in Bengaluru Urban, along with five new deaths. According to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) war room data for Friday, there were 1,037 new cases.
Police use water cannon as German lockdown protest turns violent
Germany Police deployed water cannon and pepper spray after a gathering of some 20,000 protesters against lockdown and other coronavirus rules in central Germany turned violent, with some demonstrators throwing bottles at police.
Protesters from all over Germany converged on the central city of Kassel for the march, which was organised by the “Querdenker” – “Lateral Thinkers” – online conspiracy movement.
“Bottles were thrown and there were attempts to breakthrough barriers,” police said on Twitter.
Police said protesters disobeyed instructions they gave to help ensure people’s safety, including by refusing to wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines.
Thanjavur school booked for not adhering to SOP
A case has been registered against a private school in Thanjavur, where a cluster of cases was detected, on the charge of negligence in adhering to the standard operating procedure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
A second batch of 15 students at a private school in Thanjavur tested positive on Friday. Already 11 students at the same school had tested positive for novel coronavirus infection. Hence, a case has been registered against the school management and a fine of ₹5,000 was collected from it, Collector M. Govinda Rao said.
In an attempt to ensure that standard operating procedures were followed scrupulously by the students, the schools from where positive cases were reported were being levied penalties, Mr. Rao said.
To stop the virus from spreading through schools, the flying squads formed in the 8 Assembly segments have been asked to monitor whether the students wore masks or not.
Curbs back in temples amid COVID-19 surge
With the sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu, the State government has reintroduced restrictions in temples for the safety of devotees and employees.
Devotees will be allowed only up to a certain point inside the temple, in queues while maintaining adequate physical distancing. No archanais will be performed and prasadam and theertham (holy water) will not be distributed.
The HR and CE Department issued a circular to this effect on Friday to all temples asking them to ensure enforcement of standard operatring procedures, including wearing of masks, frequent use of hand sanitisers, restricting entry of children aged below 10, elders above 60 and pregnant women.
Puducherry shuts schools till May 31 as cases spike
All schools (State Board, CBSE and ICSE) in the Union Territory of Puducherry will remain closed for Classes I to VIII from Monday (March 22) till May 31 in view of the sudden spike in the number of COVID-19 cases.
The decision was taken based on a recommendation by the High Level COVID Vaccine Committee chaired by Lt. Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan.
P.T. Rudra Goud, Director of School Education, said for Classes 9 to 11, online lessons will be conducted for five days a week from Monday to Friday.
Meanwhile, the U.T. recorded 60 new cases and 24 recoveries on Saturday.