As of Monday, India has administered 12.4 crore doses of vaccine since January 16. When it opened up vaccines for those above 45 on April 1, there was an initial surge in the number of vaccinations every day — touching 4.5 lakh on April 5. However, numbers declined steadily thereafter. On Monday, about 2.8 million doses were administered.
Several States have complained of shortages and having to close down vaccination centres.
Questions remain on whether enough stocks of vaccine will be available to cater to the accelerated demand from May. When the year began, the government’s plan was to inoculate 30 crore, or about a third of its adult population by August. As of Monday only 8% had got one dose and 1% were fully inoculated.
Here are the latest updates:
7-day lockdown comes into force in Aizawl, 10 other district headquarters of Mizoram
A seven-day lockdown has come into force from April 20 in Aizawl and 10 other district headquarters of Mizoram to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Though the State government order issued on April 19 night did not use the word “lockdown”, it said no resident in Aizawl municipal area and 10 other district headquarters should step out of their homes during the restriction period, which will remain effective from 4 a.m. on April 20 to 4 a.m. on April 26.
However, inter-village or intra-state movement is allowed with permission from the village or local-level task forces, it said. The existing night curfew from 8.30 pm to 4 am in Aizawl and the 10 other district headquarters will be enforced more strictly.
J&J seeks permission for clinical trial of single-shot COVID-19 vaccine in India
Global healthcare major Johnson & Johnson said it has sought an approval from the India’s drug regulator to conduct a bridging clinical trial of its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine in the country.
“Johnson & Johnson is partnering with health authorities and the world’s best scientists to provide the safety and efficacy data necessary to support worldwide emergency use of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine candidate,” the company said in a statement.
“In line with this commitment, we have submitted an application to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) requesting approval to conduct a bridging clinical study of our single-dose Janssen COVID-19 vaccine candidate in India to comply with local regulations,” the statement added.
India to waive import duty on COVID-19 vaccines, says govt source
India will waive its 10% customs duty on imported COVID-19 vaccines, a senior government official told Reuters on Monday, as it tries to boost supplies to counter a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases.
Imports of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine are due to arrive soon and the government has also urged Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson to sell their products to India.
SC grants interim stay on HC order directing U.P. govt to impose strict restrictions in 5 cities
The Supreme Court Tuesday granted interim stay on the Allahabad High Court order directing the Uttar Pradesh government to impose strict restrictions till April 26 in five cities amid surge in COVID-19 cases.
“There shall be an interim stay on the order of the high court,” a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said while hearing the state government’s plea against the order passed on Monday.
Delhi Police creates green corridor for tankers carrying oxygen to COVID-19 hospital
The Delhi Police created a green corridor for two tankers carrying 19,500 litres of liquid oxygen from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana borders to a COVID-19 hospital in outer Delhi’s Paschim Vihar, officials said.
The tankers had to urgently reach Sri Action Balaji Hospital, where oxygen levels had reached a critical point, but were stuck in a traffic jam, they said.
The police received information around 11.30 p.m. on Monday and immediately teams were rushed to ensure smooth passage for the containers, the official said.
Seek timely admission to hospital: Goa CM
Amid the rising COVID-19 cases and deaths in Goa, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has appealed to people to take viral infection symptoms seriously and seek timely medical help in a hospital, and assured that there is no shortage of medical facilities in the state.
In a Twitter post on April 19 evening, Mr. Sawant said he was deeply pained by the number of deaths in the State due to COVID-19. He said in most cases, it has been observed that the deaths occurred due to late admissions to hospitals.
“Therefore, I humbly request everyone to take symptoms seriously, and if observed, to immediately rush to the nearest hospital. There is no shortage of medical facilities and expertise. Delaying medical care will only decrease chances of recovery,” he tweeted.
Kejriwal asks people to stay home, says lockdown decision taken for their safety
Appealing to people to stay at home during the six-day lockdown in Delhi amid the spiralling COVID-19 crisis, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said the decision was taken in view of their health and safety.
The lockdown kicked in from 10 p.m. on Monday and will continue till 5 a.m. on April 26.
“The lockdown in Delhi has started today. This decision has been taken in view of your health and safety. Kindly cooperate with the government and stay home to keep safe from the infection,” Mr. Kejriwal tweeted.
Gauhati HC caps junior staff presence to 50% as COVID-19 cases soar
Amid an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases, the Gauhati High Court has capped the presence of junior staff to 50% in all its affiliating benches and lower courts across Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh for the next two weeks from.
Issuing a notification to this effect on April 19 evening, Gauhati High Court Registrar General Raktim Duarah said there shall be restricted functioning with staggered roster in order to maintain social distancing.
The notice said 50% of staff of the principal seat at Guwahati and outlying Benches at Kohima, Aizawl and Itanagar, below the level of Administrative Officer (judicial), shall attend office alternatively. “The same arrangement is to be followed in the subordinate courts of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh,” it said.
Industries can wait for oxygen, not COVID-19 patients: Delhi High Court
The Delhi High Court Tuesday said sufficient oxygen was not being supplied to COVID-19 patients in the national capital and asked the Centre if it can be diverted from industries which can wait for now.
“Industries can wait. Patients cannot. Human lives are at stake,” a Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said to the central government.
Closure of economic activity will lead to permanent closure of businesses, job losses: RAI
With varied localised restrictions being imposed across States in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, Retailers Association of India (RAI) on Tuesday said closure of economic activity at this juncture will lead to permanent closure of businesses and millions of job losses.
Stating that the retail industry is beginning to see similar issues repeating in some form that were faced last year, the retailers’ body said that non-essential or non-food retail and malls should be allowed to operate with strict surveillance.
Suburban train services hit in Bengal after 90 drivers, guards test COVID-19 positive
Eastern Railway on Tuesday said it has so far cancelled 56 local trains in the Sealdah section after around 90 drivers and guards tested positive for COVID-19
No decision has been taken on cancellation of trains in the Howrah section, an official said.
“The situation is pretty grim. Some 90 drivers and guards are unable to report for duty due to Covid. We have cancelled 56 local trains to ensure mail and express train services are not impacted,” Eastern Railway spokesperson Eklabya Chakraborty said.
Rajnath asks armed forces to extend help to civil administrations
As India reels under a massive spike in coronavirus cases, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has asked the Army to extend assistance to State administrations to deal with the pandemic, including by offering help in creation of additional capacities to treat COVID-19 patients.
Sources in the security establishment said following Mr. Singh’s communication to Army Chief Gen. MM Naravane, it was decided that the Army would consider offering treatment to civilians in its medical facilities, wherever possible, besides extending other assistance to civil administrations.
Increased number of beds by almost three times in two weeks: Sisodia
Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia, in a press conference, said COVID-19 cases have reached 25,000 and it feels that it will go up to 28,000 to 30,000.
“On April 3, we had 6,071 beds. Today we have 19,101 beds. In about two weeks we have increased beds by more than three times.”
“In Burari Hospital, we are adding 470 beds. In DDU Hospital, we are adding 500 beds. In LNJP, we are attaching other facilities, so that more patients can be admitted. About 2,700 beds will be added soon.”
Asking people not to panic, Mr. Sisodia said, “don’t run to hospitals as soon as you test positive for coronavirus. Go to a hospital if your fever is not coming down.”
Action will be taken against hospitals which do not give proper information about beds, he said, adding that action has been taken against two hospitals. – Nikhil M. Babu
DMRC revises Metro timings
To offer more capacity in compliance with the 50% seating provision with no standing to eligible people travelling by the Metro during curfew period, the DMRC has revised timings.
Services during peak hours will be available at a frequency of 15 minutes and at a frequency of 30 minutes for the rest of the day.
Earlier, the DMRC had announced that frequency of metro trains during peak hours will be 30 minutes and 60 minutes during non-peak hours.
the DMRC said, entry to several stations were closed temporarily as a crowd control measure on Tuesday morning. – Shinjini Ghosh
Telangana imposes night curfew with immediate effect till April 30
With the State witnessing steep escalation in number of people testing positive to Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Telangana government has decided to impose night curfew with immediate effect.
Night curfew will be in force from 9 pm to 5 am till April 30. All the offices, firms, shops, establishments, restaurants and others should be closed at 8 pm. Hospitals, diagnostic labs, pharmacies and those dealing with the supply of essential services have been exempt from the restrictions.
‘Corona Curfew’ at night shall be extended to all Municipal and urban local body limits of all 20 districts of Jammu And Kashmir. It was already in force in eight districts earlier, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m: L-G Manoj Sinha
CEC, EC test positive for COVID-19, working from home
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra and Election Commissioner (EC) Rajiv Kumar have tested positive for COVID-19 and have been working from home, according to Election Commission of India (ECI) officials.
Mr. Chandra, who took over charge as CEC from Sunil Arora on April 13, had assumed charge of the new role from home as he had been COVID-19 positive then, an official said.
ICSE Class 10 exams cancelled
The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) on Monday told schools that the ICSE Class 10 examinations had been cancelled due to the rising COVID-19 cases.
In a letter to all heads of schools that were presenting candidates for the exams, CISCE chief executive and secretary Gerry Arathoon said: “Given the present worsening situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the CISCE has decided to cancel the ICSE (Class 10) 2021 examination…The safety and well-being of our students and teaching faculty is our topmost priority and of paramount interest.”
He said the April 16 circular, which made the exams optional, had been withdrawn. In addition all CISCE-affiliated schools were advised to begin the admission process for Class 11, if they had not already done so, he said. Schools should prepare a schedule for starting online classes for Class 11 students.
COVID-positive woman delivers twins in Jammu, babies test negative
A coronavirus-positive woman delivered healthy twins at a government hospital here on Monday, officials said.
“Both the babies are COVID-19 negative and have been kept separate from the mother,” said Dr. Arun Sharma, the medical superintendent of Maternal and Child Health Hospital in Gandhinagar here. The mother and babies are fine and healthy, he said.
The baby girls were born by caesarean section.
‘Avoid all travel to India’, U.S. tell citizens amidst COVID-19 surge
Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in India, the United States public health body has asked its citizens to avoid all travel to India.
Issuing a Level 4 advisory, which is the highest available, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said: “Because of the current situation in India, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to India.”
The CDC recommended that the traveller get fully vaccinated before travel if the trip is unavoidable. “All travelers should wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash their hands,” it added.
U.S. to boost ‘Do Not Travel’ advisories to 80% of world
The U.S. State Department said on Monday it will boost its “Do Not Travel” guidance to about 80% of countries worldwide, citing “unprecedented risk to travellers” from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This update will result in a significant increase in the number of countries at Level 4: Do Not Travel, to approximately 80% of countries worldwide,” the department said in a statement.
The State Department already listed 34 out of about 200 countries as “Level 4: Do Not Travel,” including places like Chad, Kosovo, Kenya, Brazil, Argentina, Haiti, Mozambique, Russia and Tanzania. Getting to 80% would imply adding nearly 130 countries.
Travel is also discouraged for the remaining 20%, though not as emphatically. It says people with plans to visit those countries should reconsider before proceeding.
White House refuses to comment on lifting ban on COVID-19 vaccine raw materials export to India
The question in this regard was asked twice on Monday — once during the morning White House briefing on COVID-19 and later during the daily news conference by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
“The Serum Institute of India has been saying that the Biden administration is blocking exports of raw materials that it needs to make COVID vaccines, and the Serum Institute has also urged President Biden to lift that embargo. So I wanted to ask which raw materials are at issue here? And do you have any plans to address Serum’s concerns?” asked a reporter during the morning news conference by the White House COVID-19 Response Team.
Both Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Dr. Andy Slacitt, the White House COVID-19 response senior advisor said they had no answer. “I don’t… I’m sorry. We could get back to you on that, I’m sure. But I don’t have anything for you right now,” Dr. Fauci said.
80 active cases in Prestige Shantiniketan in Bengaluru
As many as 80 COVID-19 cases have been reported from Prestige Shantiniketan, a massive apartment complex in Whitefield. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is now trying to control the spread of the virus within the complex, which has 3,002 flats and over 10,000 residents.
According to R. Venkatachalapathi, Joint Commissioner, Mahadevapura zone, the civic body is trying to test as many residents as possible. So far, 1,500 residents have been tested.
About the source of the infection, he said that many residents, who have tested positive, had travel history to other States, including Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Also, COVID-19 appropriate behaviour (CAB) had allegedly been given a go by.
Bengaluru Karaga limited to pooja inside temple
With the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of abating, the Bengaluru Karaga celebrations have been cancelled. The Karaga will be celebrated in a low-key manner with a pooja inside the Dharamarayaswamy temple.
An order to this effect was issued by J. Manjunath, Deputy Commissioner, Bengaluru (Urban), on Saturday.
The historical Bengaluru Karaga is synonymous with the city’s culture and has an over-300-year history. The Karaga celebrations were to begin on April 18 and culminate with a night-long procession on April 27.
Crowds seen at markets, liquor stores in panic buying spree
The liquor stores in Delhi saw huge crowds on Monday after the announcement of a six-day lockdown. At some stores, the customers formed queues, but at most others, there were no social distancing norms in place.
At the markets too, a larger than normal rush was seen, as customers made a last-minute dash to stock up before the lockdown enforcement. Even though shops selling essential supplies and medicines will be allowed to remain open, people queued up saying that commuting would be a problem during the week and that they prefer to buy in advance.
Delhi District court judge dies of COVID-19
A 47-year-old district court judge died due to COVID at a government hospital here on Monday.
Kovai Venugopal, who was a judge at the Saket Family Court, died at 11 a.m. at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Naryan Hospital.
According to the court sources, he was admitted to the hospital on Sunday and was being treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ward. Saket Bar Association secretary Dhir Singh Kasana alleged that the incident was a result of “negligence on the part of the government”.
Samaritans lend a helping hand amid unprecedented infections
Amid an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases, some samaritans across the Delhi-NCR region have either formed communities or taken it upon themselves to help out those in need for food, medicine, or simply transport.
Such groups have also been responding to the unrelenting demand for plasma donors by making a list of people who have been treated for COVID-19 a month earlier and are willing to donate plasma.
School summer vacations to start today
The Delhi government on Monday declared early summer vacations for all schools in the city. The vacation, which was to start from May 11 and continue till June 30 has now been rescheduled from April 20 to June 9.
The Directorate of Education in an order said: “In view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic situation, the summer vacation has now been rescheduled and will be observed from April 20 [tomorrow] to June 9.”
It added that during the vacation period, heads of schools are authorised to call vacation staff as per requirements for any school related work maintaining COVID-appropriate behavior and following standard operating procedure.
Maharashtra health department to create awareness of ‘six minute walk’ test to check oxygen level
With COVID-19 cases surging in the State, the Maharashtra health department is asking those with COVID-19 symptoms to test functioning of lungs by taking a ‘six minute walk’ test. The department has asked district administrations to spread awareness of the test which can be conducted at home. It may be noted that this is not a diagnostic test for COVID-19.
According to the directions, individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 will have to check their oxygen level using an oximeter before beginning the test. The individual will then have to walk for six straight minutes, without stopping, on an even surface keeping the oximeter attached to a finger. After six minutes, if the oxygen level does not fall, the individual is considered healthy.
“There is no need to worry if oxygen level falls down by one or two percent. In such cases, a similar exercise should be repeated twice a day to keep vigil,” said an official. He added that if the oxygen level falls below 93 or by 3% or if the individual is suffering from breathlessness, then the person is advised to get admitted to the hospital.
Amid surge in cases, Punjab CM orders stricter curbs from today
Amid surge in COVID-19 cases, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday ordered stricter restrictions beginning April 20, including extension of night curfew timings (8 p.m. to 5 a.m.) and closure of all bars, cinema halls, gyms, spas, coaching centres and sports complexes. Restaurants and hotels will be open only for takeaway and home delivery from Monday to Saturday.
Gatherings of more than 20 persons, including for weddings and cremations, have also been banned across the State and prior approval of the district administration is needed for all gatherings of more than 10 persons, except for cremation.
The new restrictions, which also include closure of all malls, shops and markets on Sunday, coupled with the ones imposed earlier, will remain in effect till April 30, the Chief Minister announced.
Open special counters to vaccinate the differently abled, HC tells Tamil Nadu
The Madras High Court on Monday directed the Tamil Nadu government to establish special counters for the differently abled at all government-run COVID-19 vaccination centres. It also ordered that the buildings have facilities, such as ramps and elevators, and that every effort be made to establish the special counters as early as possible.
Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy issued the directions while disposing of a public interest litigation petition filed by polio survivor Meenakshi Balasubramanian of Chennai. The litigant had said the differently abled were highly vulnerable, running the risk of contracting COVID-19 at least six times more than others.
BJP decides to stop large rallies in West Bengal, restricts crowds to 500
The BJP on Monday decided to stop holding large rallies, gatherings and meetings for the West Bengal Assembly elections, capping attendance at 500 due to the rising COVID-19 cases.
In a statement, the party said BJP president Jagat Prasad Nadda had decided that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other central leaders of the party would address only small public meetings and no more than 500 people would be allowed to attend.
The party said the smaller public meetings would be held in open spaces and with COVID-19 guidelines in place. The party had set a target of distribution of 6 crore masks and sanitisers in West Bengal, it said.
Staggered working hours, curtailed attendance of officers in central govt. offices amid surge in cases
The Centre on Monday announced guidelines for its employees, including staggered office hours and 50 per cent attendance of officers of the level of Under Secretary and below, in view of a surge in COVID-19 cases.
All officers of the level of Deputy Secretary, equivalent and above are to attend office on a regular basis, a statement issued by the Personnel Ministry said.
Physical attendance of the officers of the level of Under Secretary or equivalent and below to be restricted to 50% of the actual strength, it said.
Tamil Nadu becomes fourth State to report over a million cases
Tamil Nadu on Monday became the fourth State, after Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka, to cross a total of one million COVID-19 cases. The number of people who have so far tested positive account for roughly 1.3% of the total population.
With 10,941 cases reported on Monday, the State took just 14 days to go from nine lakh cases to 10 lakh cases. An analysis of the number of days it took to cross every one lakh case showed that this was the shortest period taken to add one more lakh to the tally, indicating the sharp rise being seen during the second wave of the pandemic.
The second shortest was in July-August last year during the first wave when the State moved from two lakh cases to three lakh cases in 16 days. The highest daily tally of 6,993 cases wave was reported on July 27, 2020.
(With inputs from Correspondents and Agencies)