Russia has said that it will begin COVID-19 vaccine trials on 40,000 people next week. It said the tests were the equivalent of the Phase 3 trials that other vaccines are undergoing. The vaccine, named Sputnik V, was announced with much fanfare in Russia but drew warnings from Western scientists and the WHO who said it still needed a rigorous safety review.
India, meanwhile, continues to maintain a cautious approach to the announcement , saying that the “National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 ” would evaluate all candidates first and then explore partnerships for Indian companies.
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:
Strict bi-weekly COVID-induced lockdown enforced in West Bengal
Helped by intermittent rains, the second day of the bi-weekly lockdown across West Bengal on Friday kept people indoor and shut most of the commercial establishments, amidst stray incidents of violation of the restrictions.
However, the two-day lockdown appeared to have made little impact on the rise of COVID-19 cases as the state reported yet another record surge of 3245 fresh patients on a single day.
Friday is the seventh consecutive day that the State has witnessed a rise of 3000 plus cases per day.
A total of 2725 people were arrested from across the State, including 783 in Kolkata, on the charge of violation of the lockdown guidelines and safety measures.
The 48-hour complete lockdown which began on Thursday is part of the state government’s plan to implement shutdowns every week since July 23 to break the chain of COVID-19 infection amid reports of community transmission in some parts of the State.
Sikkim Health Minister tests positive for COVID-19
Sikkim Health Minister Dr M K Sharma tested positive for COVID-19.
The Minister himself announced the news of his testing positive for COVID-19 in a brief Facebook post.
“I, Dr MK Sharma, Health Minister of Sikkim, would like to inform all the Sikkimese people that I developed symptoms of COVID-19 and got myself tested today and the results have come as positive,” he said.
Mr. Sharma said that he was doing fine and confined himself in isolation.
Urging his friends and supporters not to panic, the Health Minister urged all those people who have in contact with him in recent days to self-isolate themselves and get tested for COVID-19.
14,161 new COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, 339 deaths
COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra went up to 6,57,450 on Friday with 14,161 new patients being reported, the state health department said. With 339 fatalities, the death toll due to the pandemic rose to 21,698, it said in a statement.
Also, 11,749 patients were discharged from hospitals during the day, taking the number of recovered cases to 4,70,873. The recovery rate in the state is 71.62 percent while the case fatality rate is 3.30%. There are 1,64,562 active cases in the State, while 34,92,966 people have been tested so far.
Currently, 11,92,685 people are in home quarantine and 35,132 in institutional quarantine.
One more M.P. Minister tests COVID-19 positive, sixth so far
Madhya Pradesh Public Works Department Minister Gopal Bhargava said he has tested COVID-19 positive.
He shared the information on his Twitter handle.
“I got antigen test (for COVID-19) done along with my family and close staff, in which I tested positive as per the initial report. I am getting admitted to a hospital on the advice of doctors,” Mr. Bhargav said in a tweet on Friday evening.
He is the sixth member of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s Council of Ministers to test positive.
Authorised police for COVID-19 norms violation fines to curb spread of virus: AAP govt to HC
The AAP government defended in the Delhi High Court its COVID-19 regulations empowering police officers of Sub-Inspector and above ranks to impose fines for violating quarantine norms, saying it was a special measure taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The Delhi government told a Bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan that fines under the COVID-19 regulations are not in the nature of punishments under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), rather they are preventive measures contemplated in accordance with the Epidemic Diseases (ED) Act of 1897.
No inmate COVID-19 positive in Delhi jails: Prisons department
No prisoner is COVID-19 positive and the situation in jails here has much improved, the Delhi Prisons Department said.
So far, 63 inmates of the three jails --Tihar, Rohini and Mandoli -- have tested positive for the infection. Sixty-one of them have recovered and two died, the officials said.
In August, only the Tihar Jail reported two cases and both the inmates have recovered now, officials said.
On Friday, there was no inmate who was COVID-19 positive in the three jail complexes of Delhi, they said.
“The first case of an inmate testing coronavirus positive came on May 13 in Rohini Jail. Two COVID-19 positive inmates of Mandoli Jail had unfortunately died on June 15 and July 4. Both were senior citizens,” Director General (Prisons) Sandeep Goel said.
Tamil Nadu reports 5,995 fresh COVID-19 cases, 101 deaths
Tamil Nadu on Friday recorded 5,995 fresh coronavirus cases taking the tally to 3,67,430 while 101 fatalities pushed the death toll to 6,340, the Health Department said.
With 5,764 patients getting discharged from various hospitals, recoveries mounted to 3,07,677 till date in the State. As many as 74,344 samples were tested and cumulatively 40,62,943 specimens have been examined in the state, the bulletin issued by the health department said. The active cases stood at 53,413.
Of the fresh deaths, 93 people had comorbidities. The State has been reporting 100 plus deaths since August 3.
Among the deceased, a 100-year-old woman from the city, suffering from various ailments and COVID-19 positive, died due to ‘left ventricular failure’ at a private hospital. A 104-year-old man from the city died at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital due to respiratory failure/COVID-19 pneumonia, the bulletin said. A 13-year-old boy from Sivaganga district was among the deceased.
Of the total 6,340 deaths, Chennai accounted for 2,557. Chennai logged 1,282 new cases and the rest were scattered across the State.
SPB ‘stable’, says hospital
Veteran playback singer S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, battling COVID-19 and on ventilator and ECMO support, was ‘stable’, the hospital treating him said on Friday.
The 74 year-old actor-singer “continues to be on ventilator and ECMO support in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU),” Dr. Anuradha Baskaran, Assistant Director-Medical Services, MGM Healthcare said in a bulletin.
“His condition currently is stable.Our multi-disciplinary team of medical experts is keeping a very close watch on the vital parameters and has been constantly updating Thiru S P Balasubrahmanyam’s family regarding his clinical status and progress,” Dr. Baskaran said.
Offices and shops in Haryana to remain closed on weekends due to spike in COVID cases: Minister
Haryana Home and Health minister Anil Vij on Friday said all offices and shops, except those providing essential services, will remain closed on every Saturday and Sunday in the wake of increase in COVID-19 cases in the State.
All offices and shops except essential will remain closed in Haryana on every Saturday and Sunday due to #COVID-19, Mr. Vij said in a tweet.
He later told PTI that the decision was taken as cases during past few days have registered a sudden increase.
The shops and offices in the state, except those dealing with essential services, will remain closed on Saturday and Sunday till further orders in this regard, the Minister said.
IPL quarantine | Confined to hotel room, players use balcony to interact, light workout on day one
Restricted to their rooms for six days, players who have landed in the UAE for the IPL, spent their opening day talking to each other through ‘balconies’ besides following a fitness plan handed out by the teams’ trainers.
Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) players arrived in Dubai on Thursday evening while Kolkata Knight Riders landed in Abu Dhabi in the night.
While Royals’ squad completed its day one testing as per Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) at the airport itself, KXIP went for a repeat test on Friday.
Erode Collector tests positive for COVID-19
Erode district Collector C. Kathiravan has tested positive for COVID-19.
According to health officials, the Collector fell sick on Friday morning and took a COVID-19 test which indicated he was infected.
Following this, he self-quarantined in his residential quarters.
His family members, too, took the test during the day and are awaiting the results.
The Collector had participated in a function and it is said he might have contracted the infection then.
Those how took part in that government function have been advised to take a COVID-19 test.
Bengal doctors’ forum calls for centralised list of plasma donors, HFNO machines
The West Bengal Doctors’ Forum, whose teams are visiting hospitals and isolation facilities in order to apprise the State government of the situation at the ground level, has recommended a list of urgent measures the administration must take in order to fight COVID-19.
Their latest suggestions include the creation of a centralised list of plasma donors and installation of high-flow nasal oxygen (HFNO) machines in hospitals. “It is difficult to escape COVID-19, such is the situation today. But we can at least minimise the number of deaths,” Dr. Koushik Chaki, honorary secretary of the forum, told The Hindu .
Polls amid pandemic: Voters to get gloves, polling booths to have thermal scanners
Voters will be provided with gloves to press the EVM button and COVID-19 patients in quarantine will be allowed to vote at the last hour of the polling day, according to broad guidelines issued by the EC on Friday for holding elections during the coronavirus pandemic.
The gloves will most likely be disposable.
A separate set of guidelines would be issued for voters who are residing in areas notified as “containment zone”, the Election Commission said.
The commission has recommended mandatory sanitisation of polling stations, preferably a day before the polls.
Thermal scanners would be placed at the entry point of every polling station. Polling or paramedical staff will conduct thermal screening of voters at the entry point of a polling station, it said.
“There shall be maximum 1,000 electors instead of 1,500 electors in a polling station,” the guidelines said.
27 employees test positive for COVID-19; Dhanbad DRM office closed for sanitisation
The Dhanbad Divisional Railway Divisional Manager’s (DRM) office has been closed for three-days till Sunday for sanitisation after 27 employees tested positive for COVID-19, an official said.
Assistant personnel officer (APO) Neeraj Kumar issued an order for closure of the DRM office (barring control room) from August 21 to 23 for extensive sanitisation.
“In the wake of 27 staff testing positive, the divisional office has been completely closed till Sunday.
"All staff would work from home and make themselves available on mobile or electronics communication during duty hours.
"However Railway Control Room would remain open”, the APO said in his notice.
CPI(M) starts operating safe homes, opens helplines in Bengal amid rising COVID-19 cases
The West Bengal unit of the CPI(M) has started operating safe homes, isolation centres and opened helplines to help people deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CPI(M) had won accolades for setting up over 700 community kitchens across the state to feed the poor during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
The party started its first safe home at Nimta area in North 24 parganas district for those who are advised quarantine for coming in contact with COVID-19 patients.
SC allows Prayushan prayers in Mumbai’s 3 Jain temples with strict compliance of COVID-19 norms
The Supreme Court Friday allowed devotees to offer Paryushan prayers in three Jain temples in Mumbai on the condition of “strict compliance” with the standard operating procedures meant to contain COVID-19 pandemic.
Making exception for the three Jain temples located at Dadar, Byculla and Chembur in Mumbai, a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said however that the permission for 'Ganpati' festival will have to be taken on a case-to-case basis from the Maharashtra Disaster Management Authority.
“Upcoming Ganpati festival in Maharashtra is altogether different and it will become uncontrollable and we understand the situation for that but in this case the situation is different,” said the bench, also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian.
The apex court said that no permission for prayers would be given for any other temple in Mumbai. - PTI
14 Air India passengers have tested positive for COVID-19 till Thursday: Hong Kong govt
14 passengers who travelled from Delhi to Hong Kong on an Air India flight on August 14 have tested positive for COVID-19 till Thursday, the Hong Kong government said.
Due to this incident, Air India’s passenger flights have been barred from landing in Hong Kong till August-end, it added on Friday.
A passenger from India can arrive in Hong Kong only if he or she has a COVID-19 negative certificate from a test done 72 hours prior to the journey, according to the rules issued by the Hong Kong government in July.
In a statement to PTI on Friday, a spokesperson of the Department of Health of the Hong Kong government said, “A flight operated by Air India (AI314) arriving Hong Kong from India on August 14 had 11 passengers confirmed to have infected with COVID-19.”
As a result, the department invoked the “Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation (Cap. 599H) on August 17 to prohibit landing of passenger flights operated by Air India for two weeks from August 18 to 31 in Hong Kong”, the spokesperson noted. - PTI
EX-IAF man moves rights body on disclosure of COVID-19 status
A retired Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel has approached the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) against the Nagpur civic body for revealing his identity to an outfit affiliated to the RSS after he tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The city resident, in his complaint filed on August 19 through his advocate Asim Sarode, sought the commission to take action against the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) authorities and the RSS-linked Lok Kalyan Samiti (LKS) for committing breach of his privacy.
The complainant has strong objection over such disclosure of data of persons who have tested positive for COVID-19. It is a direct violation of a patients right and the individuals right to privacy, the complaint said.
The man said he tested positive for COVID-19 on August 16 and was asked by the Nagpur civic body to quarantine himself at his residence.
On August 18, he claimed he got a call from one Sumadhar Gokhale, who said the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), through its arm Lok Kalyan Samiti, was providing services to persons who have tested positive for COVID-19.
The caller (Gokhale) started asking the complainant details of his health and also family members, it said.
“The complainant sought to know (from Gokhale) from where he got his number to which the caller said the civic body provided them the data of positive patients,” the plea in the MSHRC said. - PTI
UK issues urgent call for more Indian, South Asian COVID-19 plasma donors
The UK’s state-funded National Health Service (NHS) on Friday issued an urgent call for people of Indian and South Asian heritage who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate their plasma to help save lives of others infected with the deadly virus.
According to experts, people from a South Asian background are around twice as likely to have high enough antibodies for their donations to be used in life-saving treatment trials, compared to white people.
The NHS said that this antibody-rich plasma, which could save the lives of people with coronavirus, is being sought urgently ahead of a feared second wave of the pandemic in the country later in the year.
We have had a fantastic response from the Asian community. COVID-19 is attacking the Asian community more than the wider community and donating plasma could save a life, said Rekha Anand, a Consultant Haematologist for NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), which is a Special Health Authority in charge of blood and organ donation. - PTI
Uproar in Rajasthan assembly over issue of COVID-19 management, House adjourned thrice
The Rajasthan assembly on Friday witnessed uproar during a debate on COVID-19 management and economic impact of lockdown leading to repeated adjournment of the proceedings.
Health Minister Raghu Sharma opened the debate and highlighted the management of COVID-19 done by the state government and efforts to strengthen health infrastructure.
Speaking on the debate after the minister, BJP MLA Kalicharan Saraf accused the Congress government of distributing ration and food kits among its supporters.
The charge invited a sharp reaction from Parliament Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal.
The House saw heated arguments between Transport Minister Pratap Singh and Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria.
Amid the uproar, the House was adjourned for 30 minutes. When the House reassembled, the uproar continued and Chairperson Rajendra Pareek adjourned the House for another 15 minutes.
Immediately after the House reassembled after 15 minutes, the chairperson announced another adjournment till 2 pm. - PTI
Delhi CM hands over ₹1 crore cheque to family of sanitation work who died of COVID-19
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday met the family members of a sanitation worker who recently died of COVID-19, and handed over a cheque of ₹1 crore as an ex-gratia to them.
Talking to reporters during his visit in North Delhi’s Majnu Ka Tilla area, Mr. Kejriwal said that sanitation worker Raju contracted the infection when he was on COVID-19 duty and died while serving the people of Delhi.
“We are proud of such ‘corona warriors’ who are sacrificing their lives while saving the citizens of Delhi,” he said.
The chief minister said that his government will provide all possible assistance to Raju’s family. - PTI
27 Maharashtra jails record 1,478 cases; six deaths
As many as 1,478 cases of COVID-19 and six deaths have been reported from 27 jails in Maharashtra so far, an official from the prisons department said on Friday.
A total of 1,166 inmates and 312 jail staff have contracted the infection and six prisoners have died of it, the official said.
As far as inmates are concerned, Nagpur Central Jail is the worst-affected in the state with 219 cases, followed by Pune’s Yerwada Central Jail with 190 cases, he said.
While Arthur Road Jail and Sangli Prison have recorded 182 and 145 cases respectively, he added.
With regard to the viral spread among prison staff, Nagpur has reported 62 cases, while Mumbai, Thane, Aurangabad, Kalyan and Yerawada prisons have 46, 35, 34, 31 and 26 cases respectively, the official said.
“Of the 1,166 infected inmates, 848 have recovered, while of the 312 jail personnel, 272 have recovered so far,” he added.
At least 10,536 prisoners have been released from various jails in the state to contain the spread of coronavirus, the official said.
The current population of all the prisons in the state is 26,408, he added. - PTI
Puducherry COVID-19 testing rate one of the highest in the country, says Chief Minister
Offering a divergent take on the assessment made by the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research that the Union Territory has the highest number of COVID-19 cases per million in the country, Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy on Friday said detection of novel coronavirus cases was high due to the testing rate in the UT, which is one of the highest in the country.
As of August 20, the overall COVID-19 tally in the UT was 9,292 cases with the samples tested aggregating 59,757.
Chinese mining company used COVID-19 vaccine in PNG, says media report
A Chinese mining company in Papua New Guinea claims to have immunised employees against COVID-19 in an apparent vaccination trial, a newspaper reported on Friday.
The South Pacific island nation’s Health Minister Papua Jelta Wong said his department was investigating the claim by Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd., The Australian reported.
National Pandemic Response Controller David Manning banned COVID-19 vaccine testing or trials in Papua New Guinea on Thursday and later noted the National Department of Health had not approved any trials. - AP
Dilip Kumar’s younger brother Aslam Khan dies due to COVID-19
Veteran actor Dilip Kumar’s younger brother Aslam Khan, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, has died. He was 88.
The cinema icon’s two brothers, Ehsaan Khan, 90, and Aslam Khan were admitted to Lilavati Hospital on August 15 after they complained of breathlessness and were tested positive for coronavirus. The doctor who treated Aslam Khan said that Khan had pneumonia with diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, and died of multiple organ failure.
Scientists recommend at least 40% humidity in public buildings to curb COVID-19 spread
In addition to measures like social distancing and wearing masks, an Indian-German team of scientists recommend controlling indoor humidity conditions to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19.
The researchers, including those from CSIR National Physical Laboratory in New Delhi, said in order to contain the pandemic, it is extremely important to implement standards for indoor air humidity in rooms with many people, such as hospitals, open-plan offices, or public transport.
In their review of studies, published in the journal Aerosol and Air Quality Research , the scientists specifically drew focus on relative humidity, which is a measure of water vapour in the air compared to the total saturation of vapour that can exist in the air at its current temperature. According to the study, a relative humidity of 40 to 60% could reduce the spread of viruses and their absorption through the nasal mucous membrane. - PTI
Strict lockdown in Kolkata, violations reported in some districts
Normal life came to a grinding halt in the city on Friday as a complete shutdown was enforced across West Bengal for the second consecutive day this week to stem the spread of COVID-19 cases, while violation of the lockdown restrictions was witnessed in some towns and rural areas in the State.
All public transport, government and private offices, banks and other commercial establishments, barring those dealing with essential services, were closed due to the lockdown.
Flight operations in and out of the Kolkata international airport were suspended for the day, while long- distance trains were also rescheduled. - PTI
107-year-old Maharashtra woman beats COVID-19
A 107-year-old woman and her 78- year-old daughter have recovered from COVID-19 here in Maharashtra, overcoming the odds of high mortality rate among elderly people, an official said on Friday.
The woman-daughter duo along with three other family members were discharged from a COVID-19 hospital in Jalna city on Thursday.
The centenarian, her daughter, 65-year-old son and two grandchildren, aged 27 and 17, were undergoing treatment for coronavirus for more than a week at the hospital, district civil surgeon Archana Bhosale said. - PTI
India’s COVID-19 tally crosses 29 lakh mark, recovery rate rises to over 74%
India’s COVID-19 tally zoomed past 29 lakh, a day after it crossed 28 lakh, with a single-day spike of 68,898 infections, while the recoveries have increased to 21,58,946 on Friday taking the recovery rate to over 74%, according to the Union Health Ministry data.
The total cases of coronavirus infections mounted to 29,05,823, while the death toll climbed to 54,849 with 983 new fatalities being reported in a span of 24 hours, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.
Case fatality rate has declined to 1.89% while the recovery rate has risen to 74.30%.
There are 6,92,028 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country which is 23.82% of the total caseload, the data stated. - PTI
Mizoram to open its border, lone airport thrice a week from August 24
The Mizoram government will open its border with Assam and Tripura besides the State’s lone Lengpui airport only thrice a week from August 24 to regulate movement of people following a spike in COVID-19 cases, a home department official said.
The order to this effect was issued by State Chief Secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, who is also chairman of executive committee of State Disaster Management Authority, on Wednesday, the official said.
The order stated that Lengpui airport and two entry points — at Kanhmun on the Mizoram-Tripura border and Vairengte on the State’s border with Assam — will be open only on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for entry of people by flights and road transportation starting from August 24 until further order. - PTI
Bihar polls should be deferred in view of COVID-19 pandemic: Yashwant Sinha
Former Union minister and United Democratic Alliance (UDA) convenor Yashwant Sinha joined a host of political leaders to seek postponement of the Bihar assembly polls in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Polls are due in the months of October-November in the State, which has, till date, witnessed 1.15 lakh COVID-19 cases, including 574 fatalities.
The Election Commission, however, has not made any official announcement about the poll schedule. - PTI
Bands to florists, wedding vendors pivot as marriage ceremonies go online
With COVID-19 still lurking, the wedding market has been at an all-time low. As Chennai-based wedding planner Vidya Singh of Sumyog puts it pithily, “There was a time we welcomed guests with rose water. Now it is with sanitisers.”
With weddings going online, florist T Suresh of Thirunavukarasu Flower Decoration has found a way to supplement his earnings: he sells to the one place doing regular business — hospitals. He has been supplying flowers to high-profile clients like Apollo Hospital and TVS Group for pujas and other festivities.
That is not to say he can make this a new business model — Suresh used to make about ₹50,000 to over a lakh or two, depending on the scale of the wedding in a pre-COVID world. “Customers are no longer willing to pay the price, since the number of people attending is no more than 50,” he says.
Number of cases in Karnataka crosses 2.5 lakh
Karnataka crossed the 2.5 lakh mark as 7,385 new COVID-19 cases and 102 deaths were reported on Thursday. The State now has 2,56,975 positive cases. On August 13, the number of cases crossed the 2 lakh mark. Karnataka added 53,775 new cases between August 13 and 20.
The State crossed the 1 lakh mark on July 27, nearly five months after recording its first case.
The first case was detected on March 8 in an international traveller who had returned to Bengaluru Urban.