Coronavirus updates | May 12, 2021

COVID-19 vaccination in progress at one of the centers during vaccination drive in New Delhi on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

India saw a record 4,205 COVID-19 fatalities in a day taking the death toll to 2,54,197, while 3,48,421 new coronavirus infections were reported, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday.

The total tally of COVID-19 cases in country now stands at 2,33,40,938.

The active cases have reduced to 37,04,099 comprising 15.87% of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has improved to 83.04%, the data updated at 8 am showed.  The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,93,82,642 while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.09%, the data stated.

You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well:

Here are the latest updates:

New Delhi

Congress seeks GST waiver on vaccines, Remdesivir, oxygen concentrators

A GST (Goods and Services Tax) waiver on vaccines, Remdesivir and oxygen concentrators can save ₹6000 crore for the State governments and individuals, the Congress on Wednesday claimed, reiterating its demand that the tax must be waived on all goods necessary to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accusing the Union government of displaying “opportunism in crisis”, party spokesperson Gourav Vallabh, said the second wave of the pandemic was brought on people only because of the failure of the government. The GST collection by the Centre for two doses of vaccines for the entire population would come to ₹3000 crore. And as per the current rate of sales, nearly an equal amount of GST would be collected by the Centre on sale of Remdesivir and oxygen concentrators.

There is 5 % GST on vaccines and 12 % on Remdesivir and oxygen concentrators.

Quoting these calculations, Mr. Vallabh asked, “When the States and the citizens have such an enormous fight on their hands, why can’t the Centre waive GST for all essential COVID-19 related medical items? Is this the opportunity to be making money or providing relief to citizens?”

- Sobhana K. Nair

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New Delhi

Need quick consensus on vaccine patent waiver, transfer of tech to overcome COVID crisis: Goyal

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday said there is a need for a quick consensus at the WTO on the proposal for patent waiver as well as transfer of technology and availability of raw materials for vaccines to deal with the ongoing COVID crisis.

In October 2020, India and South Africa submitted a proposal suggesting a waiver for all World Trade Organization (WTO) members on the implementation of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID.

The agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPS came into effect in January 1995. It is a multilateral agreement on Intellectual Property (IP) rights such as copyright, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets.

"To overcome this crisis much faster, we need not only the acceptance of the TRIPS waiver, we need expeditious consensus building, transfer of technology and availability of the raw materials to make this happen," Mr. Goyal said at WEF's Global Trade Outlook session.

He said that India wanted to cover medicines, vaccinations and associated infrastructure as part of its proposal to address the challenge of COVID.

The U.S. has given "limited" support for vaccines and that is the pressing need of today, he said, adding India has huge capabilities, technical capacities, and skilled manpower to help the world in ramping up vaccination rapidly.

"I do hope that this global collaborative effort and action that is currently being led by the WTO will bear fruits. Not only acceptance of the TRIPS waiver but in expeditious consensus building, transfer of technology, availability of the molecules, and all other raw material to make this happen," Mr. Goyal said.


Andaman and Nicobar islands

COVID-19 in Andamans: Lieutenant-Governor seeks more emergency spending powers

Following a plea from the Andaman and Nicobar islands’ administration to relax the ₹10-crore limit on the Lieutenant Governor’s power to authorise direct emergency purchases amid an acute shortage of essential COVID-19 supplies, the Union Finance Ministry has asked the Port Blair top brass to take up the issue with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Finance Ministry has, however, granted a one-month relaxation to the islands’ administration from several rules pertaining to procurement in the General Financial Rules, stating that procurement delays amid an unprecedented national health emergency would result in loss of lives of citizens.

Last Thursday, the Chief Secretary of the Andaman & Nicobar Administration had written to the Centre about ‘an acute shortage of essential COVID-19-related supplies, particularly of medical oxygen’. He had said they are ‘facing tremendous challenges in procuring supplies’ due to the islands’ unique geographical location.

- Vikas Dhoot

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Tamil Nadu

Eight-year-old girl donates her savings for COVID-19 relief

An eight-year-old girl, S. Danshika of Edayankattu Valasu, in Erode donated her savings of ₹ 2,500 for COVID-19 relief here on Wednesday.

With the State under the grip of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin had appealed to the public to contribute generously to the Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund to fight the pandemic effectively.

- S.P. Saravanan

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New Delhi

COVID-19: DU's Hansraj College sets up RT-PCR testing centre on premises

Delhi University's Hansraj College on Wednesday opened an RT-PCR testing centre on its premises, principal Rama Sharma said.

"The lab is approved by the ICMR AND NABL. It has been set up by the college in collaboration with JITM Skills Pvt Ltd. The testing centre will be open for everyone," Mr. Sharma told PTI.



Centre sends 80 metric tonnes of oxygen to Uttarakhand

Eighty metric tonnes of oxygen sent by the Centre by an Oxygen Express train was dispatched to different districts of Uttarakhand on Wednesday.

Flagging off trucks carrying the life-saving gas to different places of Kumaon and Garhwal divisions from the Harrawala station here, Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal for extending a helping hand.  Enough oxygen is being supplied by the Centre to the state in view of the difficult circumstances arising out of the surge in COVID-19 cases, he said.


Health Ministry update

WHO has not used term ‘Indian Variant’ for B.1.617 strain: Health Ministry

World Health Organisation (WHO) has not associated the term “Indian Variant” with the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus in its 32 page document. In fact, the word “Indian” has not been used in its report on the matter, noted a release issued by the Health Ministry on Wednesday.

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- Bindu Shajan Perappadan

New Delhi

Operational licence can be given to 150-bed closed hospital: Delhi govt to HC

The Delhi government has told the Delhi High Court that an operational licence can be given for the 150-bed multi-speciality hospital which was closed down due to insolvency resolution process against its parent company, if it has all the requisite infrastructure in place.

The Delhi government said however that it cannot bear the expenditure or provide logistical support for running the hospital as a COVID-19 centre as its resources -- manpower, medicines and equipment -- were already "stretched thin" in operating its own hospitals.


New Delhi

More than 100 vacination centres in Delhi administering Covaxin have been shut: Manish Sisodia

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Wednesday said that more than 100 vaccination centres, where Covaxin was administered, have been closed in the city.

"Covaxin centres have been closed. More than 100 centres in 17 schools have been closed," Mr. Sisodia said.

He requested the central government to make vaccines available for state governments.

"Covaxin (manufacturer) has said that they cannot give more vaccine than what central government says. Covaxin supply to Delhi has stopped now," the Minister said.

- Delhi Bureau

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Assam imposes lockdown between 2 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The Assam government on Wednesday ordered to shut all offices, religious places and weekly markets for 15 days in urban and semi-urban areas of the state, besides banning the movement of people from 2 p.m. to 5 a.m. in the wake of the rising COVID-19 cases.

Issuing a new set of guidelines for the urban and semi-urban places in the periphery of 5 km of municipal areas, Chief Secretary Jishnu Barua said all standalone shops and commercial establishments shall shut down at 1 pm on all days.

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Goa: 26 COVID-19 patients die at GMCH; minister seeks HC probe

Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on Tuesday said 26 COVID-19 patients died at the state- run Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) in the early hours and sought an investigation by the High Court to find out the exact cause.

He said these fatalities occurred between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. "which is a fact", but remained evasive about the cause.



Canada's largest province halts AstraZeneca first doses

Canada's largest province said Tuesday it will stop giving out first doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine due to concerns over its link to rare blood clots.

Ontario's chief medical officer for health, Dr. David Williams, said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution because of increased instances of the rare blood clotting disorder linked to the shot.

AstraZeneca is restricted in some European countries because of a potential link to extremely rare blood clots.



Over 1,600 oxygen concentrators received till date in Rajasthan: Health Minister

Rajasthan Health Minister Raghu Sharma said the State government has received a total of 1,670 oxygen concentrators of 5 litres and 10 litres per minute capacity till Tuesday amid an urgent need of the life-saving gas for severely ill COVID-19 patients.

Mr. Sharma said that out of the total oxygen concentrators that they had received, 740 were received through global expressions of interest (EOIs), 285 through tenders and 645 from various donors.


New Delhi

Total number of COVID-19 vaccine doses given in India crosses 17.51 crore

The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has gone past 17.51 crore, the Union health ministry said on Tuesday.  It said 4,74,629 beneficiaries in the age group of 18-44 years received their first dose of COVID vaccine on Tuesday and cumulatively 30,39,287 across 30 states and union territories since the start of Phase-3 of the vaccination drive.

The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country stands at 17,51,71,482 according to the 8 pm provisional report, the ministry said.  The total of 17,51,71,482 include 95,81,872 healthcare workers (HCWs) who have taken the first dose and 65,38,656 HCWs who have taken the second dose, 1,41,45,083 frontline workers (FLWs) who have received the first dose, 79,50,430 FLWs who have taken the second dose, and 30,39,287 in the age group of 18-44 years who have received the first dose.



COVID-19 pet boom has veterinarians backlogged, burned out

During the gloomiest stretches of the pandemic, Dr. Diona Krahn's veterinary clinic has been a puppy fest, overrun with new four-legged patients.

Typically, she'd get three or four new puppies a week, but between shelter adoptions and private purchases, the 2020 COVID-19 pet boom brought five to seven new clients a day to her practice in Raleigh, North Carolina. Many are first-time pet owners.

- AP

New Delhi

Second Covid wave seems to have flattened but won’t end before July: virologist Shahid Jameel 

India’s second COVID-19 wave seems to have flattened but the climb down will be a more prolonged, long drawn-out process than the first and will possibly run till July, says eminent virologist Shahid Jameel.

Though the new variants of the virus may partly be responsible for the explosion in the number of cases, there is no indication the mutant versions are more lethal, added the director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University, amid mounting worries about what is fuelling the second wave in India.



India opened up prematurely, Dr Fauci on COVID-19 crisis

India made the "incorrect assumption" that it was finished with the COVID-19 pandemic and opened up prematurely that has left the country in such "dire straits", America's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has told senators.

India has been severely affected by the unprecedented second wave of the coronavirus and hospitals in several states are reeling under the shortage of health workers, vaccines, oxygen, drugs and beds.

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New Delhi

Bharat Biotech's Covaxin recommended by expert panel for phase 2/3 trials on 2-18 year-olds

Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin was on Tuesday recommended by an expert panel for phase II/III clinical trial on those aged between two to 18 years, official sources said.

The trial will take place in 525 subjects at various sites, including AIIMS, Delhi, AIIMS, Patna and Meditrina Institute of Medical Sciences, Nagpur.

The Subject Expert Committee (SEC) on COVID-19 of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) on Tuesday deliberated upon Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech's application seeking permission to conduct phase II/III clinical trials to evaluate the safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity of Covaxin jabs in children aged 2 to 18 years.



Mizoram reports highest single-day spike of 240 COVID-19 cases

Mizoram on Wednesday reported the highest single-day spike of 240 COVID-19 cases, pushing the tally to 8,035, an official said.

The COVID-19 death toll in the State rose to 23 as a 44-year-old man from Aizawl district succumbed to the disease at the Zoram Medical College on Tuesday night, he said.

Of the 240 fresh cases, Aizawl district reported the highest cases at 183, followed by Serchhip and Kolasib districts, which reported 20 and 14 cases respectively.



Fire at COVID-19 care centre in Gujarat's Bhavnagar; 61 patients shifted

A fire broke out at a hotel- turned-COVID-19 care centre in Gujarat's Bhavnagar town in the wee hours Wednesday, officials said, adding nobody was hurt. Altogether 61 coronavirus patients were shifted from the facility to other hospitals after the "minor fire and smoke", an official said.

There were 68 patients at the facility when the fire broke out. The remaining seven will be shifted soon, he said.


Port Blair

Twenty-eight more people tested positive for COVID-19 in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, pushing the coronavirus tally in the union territory to 6,426, a health department official said on Wednesday.

All the new cases in the archipelago were detected during contact tracing, the official said.

The COVID-19 death toll remained at 78 as no fresh fatality was reported in the last 24 hours, he said.


Uttar Pradesh

Coronavirus | Compensation is less for polling officers who died during Uttar Pradesh Panchayat polls: Allahabad HC

The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday observed that the amount of compensation for polling officers, who died due to COVID-19 during Panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh, is very less and the compensation must at least be to the tune of ₹1 crore.

A two-judge bench comprising Justice Siddharth Verma and Justice Ajit Kumar made this observation while hearing a Public Interest Litigation on the spread of the pandemic in the State and conditions of quarantine centres.

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Coronavirus | Indian COVID-19 variant found in 44 countries: WHO

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that a variant of COVID-19 behind the acceleration of India's explosive outbreak has been found in dozens of countries all over the world.

Also read: Coronavirus | Indian COVID-19 variant found in at least 17 countries, says WHO

The U.N. health agency said the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19, first found in India in October, had been detected in more than 4,500 samples uploaded to an open-access database "from 44 countries in all six WHO regions".

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Over 94% of Thane cops receive 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine

More than 94% of the total number of policemen in Thane have so far received their first dose of vaccine against COVID-19, officials said.

Since the outbreak of the viral infection, a total of 2,147 policemen here in Maharashtra have contracted COVID-19 and 35 of them died due to the disease, a release issued by the Thane police commissionerate said on Tuesday.



U.S. working closely with India on COVID-19 crisis: White House official

The U.S. is working closely with India on its continued and emerging needs during the unprecedented second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a top State Department official has said.

While the assistance from the U.S. government has been worth $100 million, the private sector has donated an additional $400 million, totalling half a billion dollars to India, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Tuesday.


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