Coronavirus India lockdown Day 176 | September 17, 2020

Testing rises in A.P. as trend of lower infection rate holds; over 9,700 test positive in Karnataka; Telangana adds 2,273 cases

September 17, 2020 09:24 am | Updated September 18, 2020 12:53 am IST

Representative image.

Representative image.

The Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is piloting Russia’s Sputnik V candidate vaccine , currently in Phase 3 trials, has partnered with the Hyderabad-based Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories to test, and subject to regulatory approvals in India, supply 100 million doses of the vaccine.

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:

10.40 pm | West Bengal

No hospital can refuse to admit COVID-19 patient if beds are available: Calcutta HC

Observing that no hospital can refuse to admit a COVID-19 patient if beds for such patients are available, the Calcutta High Court has given liberty to the petitioners in a PIL to draw the attention of the West Bengal Health Regulatory Commission if they have concrete instance of such refusal.

In a judgement on a PIL alleging refusal of admission of COVID-19 patients (whether detected or suspected) by hospitals in some cases, a division bench comprising Chief Justice T B N Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee said the primary object of a hospital, be it government or private, should be to render healthcare to those who are in need of it.

“The refusal on the part of a hospital to do so without valid reason, e.g., non-availability of beds, will amount to a culpable breach of the fundamental duty of a medical institution,” the bench said in the judgement passed on Wednesday.

It said that in case the petitioners have a concrete instance of any hospital denying admission to a COVID-19 patient despite beds being available, the petitioners will be at liberty to draw the same to the notice of The West Bengal Health Regulatory Commission. — PTI

10.18 pm | New Delhi

HCL Foundation enhances COVID-19 care facilities in Delhi’s LNJP, DDU hospitals

HCL Foundation on Thursday announced setting up of 100-bed and 50-bed COVID-19 isolation and treatment units, respectively, at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital (LNJP) and Deen Dayan Upadhyay Hospital in New Delhi, in partnership with the Delhi government.

The Foundation’s support is aimed at complementing the government’s efforts to increase and enhance COVID-19 care facilities to help manage the large number of infections in the national capital, it said in a statement.

These facilities, including the child-friendly COVID-19 wards, were officially inaugurated on Thursday by HCL Foundation Director Nidhi Pundhir, LNJP Hospital Medical Director Suresh Kumar and Maulana Azad Medical College Dean Nandani Sharma. HCL Foundation is the corporate social responsibility arm of HCL Technologies.

Given the increased burden on the staff at the two hospitals in the wake of the large number of daily positive cases, the Foundation said it has also committed to providing human resource support to the isolation and treatment unit at the two hospitals.

"This includes hiring of and salaries for an agreed number of doctors, nursing staff, hygiene technicians, general duty assistants, supervisors, counsellors, ambulance personnel and administration staff," it said.

Besides, it is providing an ambulance with advanced life support and ventilator to LNJP dedicated to transportation of COVID-19 positive patients and isolation and treatment of over 1,000 COVID-19 mild-to-moderately symptomatic cases. - PTI

10:00 p.m. | Aizawl

Partial lockdown extended in Aizawl

The Mizoram government on Thursday extended partial lockdown in Aizawl Municipal Corporation (AMC) area for another three days till Sunday to facilitate tracing of people who came in contact with Covid-19 positive patients, State Health Minister R Lalthangliana said on Thursday.

The decision was taken at the meeting of senior officers, leaders of churches and Central Young Mizo Association (CYMA), which is the largest secular non-governmental organisation of the Mizo people, he said.

The week-long partial lockdown in the AMC area was scheduled to end on Thursday. - PTI

9.45 pm | New Delhi

India crosses 6 crore mark in COVID-19 testing; 11,36,613 samples tested in single day: ICMR

India has crossed the six crore mark in conducting tests for detection of COVID-19, with 6,05,65,728 samples having been examined till September 16, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said.

As on August 28, India had tested 4,04,06,609 COVID-19 samples, it said.

With an average testing of more than 10 lakh per day in the last 20 days, India has tested 6,05,65,728 samples across the country till September 16.

“As on Wednesday, 11,36,613 samples were tested for detection of COVID-19 in a single day. India has conducted last two crore sample testing in only 20 days,” the ICMR said.

This has been enabled by rapidly increasing testing infrastructure and capacity across the country.

The total number of diagnostic labs in the country has reached 1,751. Of which dedicated government laboratories are 1,059 and private laboratories 692.

“The ICMR has successfully responded to the evolving epidemic through focused and collaborative efforts of the Centre, states and UT governments,” the health research body said.

India has been aggressively implementing testing, tracking and treating strategy efficiently across the country.

Recently, increasing number of cases were reported from states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Naidu. ICMR is enhancing testing capacity in these states, it said.

“ICMR has been regularly assessing the situation and responding by revising testing strategy,” it said.

In its latest advisory on COVID-19 testing strategy, ‘Testing on Demand’ for individuals has been allowed. The State/UTs have been allowed to simplify the modalities to facilitate testing on demand.

A record single-day increase of 97,894 cases pushed India’s COVID-19 tally to 51,18,253, while the death toll climbed to 83,198 with the virus claiming 1,132 lives in a span of 24 hours, the health ministry data updated at 8 a.m. on September 17 showed. — PTI

9:30 p.m. | Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh records 2,391 fresh new cases

Madhya Pradesh on Thursday recorded 2,391 new COVID-19 cases, taking the tally to 97,906.  The number of active cases stands at 21,631. As many as 33 patients died of the illness on the day, taking the State-wide death toll to 1,877. As for recoveries, 2,863 patients were discharged from hospitals on the day. So far, 74,398 persons have been cured of the illness, says the State Directorate of Health Services.

— Sidharth Yadav

9.17 pm | Mizoram

Mizoram government providing equal treatment facilities to COVID-19 patients: Health Minister

A day after the BJP blamed the Mizoram government for promoting “VIP culture” by setting up a separate COVID-19 Care Centre for them, State Health Minister Dr. R. Lalthangliana rubbished the claim, saying equal treatment facilities are being provided to all coronavirus patients, irrespective of their age, gender and class.

He termed the allegations levelled by the Opposition party as “baseless“. “A 28-bedded new MLA hostel in Aizawl has been declared as COVID-19 Care Centre. We have no VIPs in terms of treating coronavirus patients,” Mr. Lalthangliana said.

On Tuesday, the State government had issued a notification designating the MLA hostel in Khatla area as a COVID-19 Care Centre “for VIPs“. However, the government on Wednesday night issued a revised order re-designating the MLA hostel as a COVID-19 Care Centre but dropped the VIP tag.

The BJP had alleged that by setting up the separate facility, the State government was promoting “VIP culture” at a time when the Centre was making efforts to do away with the practice.

“The government has not classified any category as VIP for COVID-19 treatment. All are equal in our eyes,” Mr. Lalthangliana told PTI .

Accusing the Mizo National Front government of being “biased” in its treatment towards officials and important persons, the saffron party had said in a statement that its lone legislator Dr. B.D. Chakma, who tested positive for the virus on Sunday, was shifted to Zoram Medical Centre where he is undergoing treatment with other patients. - PTI

9.15 pm | Maharashtra

Maharashtra reported its second-highest surge of 24,619 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday as the State's total case tally reached 11,45,840. The number of active cases has now risen to 3,01,752. As many as 468 deaths pushed the total death toll to 31,351. A total of 19,522 patients were discharged today to take the total recoveries till date to 8,12,354. Pune reported a big spike of nearly 5,000 cases to take its total case tally to 2,49,513. The district reported 53 deaths to take its total death toll to 5,059. Mumbai reported 2,411 cases to take its total case tally to 1,78,385 of whom 31,766 are active; 43 fatalities saw the city's death toll rise to 8,323.

- Shoumojit Banerjee

9:00 p.m. | New Delhi

DMRC suffered loss of ₹1,609 crore due to closure of metro services, says government

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) suffered a loss of around ₹1,609 crore due to the closure of metro services in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told Lok Sabha today.

Bangalore Metro, Lucknow Metro, Chennai Metro and Kochi Metro also incurred losses due to COVID-19, he said.

Metro services across the country were shut on March 22 to contain the spread of novel coronavirus. They resumed on September 7 in a phased manner. Full-fledged normal operations resumed on September 12. - PTI

8.45 pm | Haryana

Adequate beds and ventilators available: Haryana CM

As novel coronavirus cases crossed the one lakh mark and fatalities went past 1,050 in Haryana, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the situation was under control with adequate beds, ventilators and oxygen supply available and that his government was regularly monitoring it.

Asked about the pandemic situation, Mr. Khattar replied, “The situation is under control.”

With active cases in the State currently over 21,000, he said an adequate number of beds, ventilators and oxygen supply was available. “We keep reviewing the situation every 15 days and accordingly make our preparations and plans,” he told a digital press conference.

Replying to a question, he said Haryana will consider doing away with affixing posters at the entrance of residence of patients in home isolation. He said that with many patients currently recovering in home isolation, the government was contemplating to utilise the services of fourth-year nursing students in hospitals and to attend to the needs of those isolating themselves at home.

Mr. Khattar had on Monday returned to the State capital Chandigarh after recovering from COVID-19. He reiterated that there was no need to be afraid of the novel coronavirus, “but we have to remain vigilant”. “There is no need to panic though those with co-morbidities need to be extra cautious,” he further said.

After testing positive for the novel coronavirus on August 24, barely two days before the one-day monsoon session of the State assembly, Mr. Khattar was admitted to Gurugram’s Medanta Hospital for treatment. Mr. Khattar, 66, had developed fever and body ache three days prior to testing positive for COVID-19.

Replying to a question, he said he did not face any “mental trauma” during the 17-day isolation at Medanta Hospital while he was being treated for Covid-19. “I utilised my time by reading books, watching TV and doing exercises,” he said. He also expressed his desire to donate plasma on doctors’ advice. — PTI

8:30 p.m.| Karnataka

9,366 new cases in Karnataka, tally inching towards five lakh

Karnataka on Thursday reported 9,366 new cases taking the total number of  cases to 4,94,356. With 93 new deaths, the toll rose to 7,629, This includes 19 non-COVID deaths.

As many as 7,268 persons were discharged on Wednesday taking the total number of recoveries to 3,83,077. Active cases continued to remain above one lakh at 1,03,631. Of these, 805 patients are being monitored in the ICUs of various hospitals.

Bengaluru Urban reported 3,799 cases taking the total tally to 1,84,082. With 34 of the 93 deaths from Bengaluru alone, the toll in this district rose to 2,555.

As many as 72,030 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours including 32,913 rapid antigen tests. With this the total number of tests rose to 40,58,313. -Karnataka Bureau

8.15 pm | Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu reports 5,560 new COVID-19 cases

Tamil Nadu on Thursday registered 5,560 new coronavirus cases taking the tally to 5.25 lakh while the toll stood at 8,618 with 59 more fatalities.

The State capital shared 992, Coimbatore 530, Salem 291, Chengelpet 283, Tiruvallur 239, and Kancheepuram 187 of the fresh infections and the rest was spread in various other regions of the State, a Health Department bulletin said. Of the 5.25 lakh plus positive cases, Chennai accounted for 1.52 lakh.

Active cases were 46,610 with 5,524 patients getting discharged from various hospitals and in total 4,70,192 people have got cured.

Those dead include a 40 year old woman and a 43 year old man while in total 52 of the deceased had co-morbidities. As many as 84,524 samples were tested and cumulatively 62,17,923 specimens have been examined.

There are 174 COVID labs in the State, 66 in government and 108 in private facilities. - PTI

8:00 p.m. | New Delhi

Need to focus on creating effective health systems for improved pandemic preparedness, says Harsh Vardhan

Flattening the COVID-19 curve globally will require international, multi-sectoral collaborative efforts so that health systems have sufficient capacities to address the flux of complicated cases, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said today, laying stress on the need for creating effective health systems for improved pandemic preparedness.

These remarks were made by Mr. Vardhan at the Joint G20 Finance and Health Ministers Meeting through video conference on Thursday, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

The minister extolled the virtues of investing in public health, an approach already underway in India. Addressing the meet, Mr. Vardhan said the current pandemic and the global crisis highlights, more than ever, the need for national and global solidarity. - PTI

7.45 pm | Puducherry

Public non-cooperation major reason for high fatality rate: Kiran Bedi, Health Minister

Non-disclosure of COVID-19 symptoms by the public to visiting medical teams was the major reason for high fatality rate in Puducherry, Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi said.

As Ms. Bedi flagged concern amid rising infections and deaths, Health Minister Malladi Krishna Rao also said it was “regrettable” that those having symptoms of COVID-19 did not approach the hospitals in time.

They voiced concern as the coronavirus case fatality rate in the union territory touched 2.01% as against 1.63% at national level.

The Lt. Governor in a release said the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner A. Anbarasu had shared with her “his anguish over sheer callousness on the part of the people to disclose any symptoms of Covid virus to the visiting Health care staff”. She said the territorial government was mulling legal directions to the people to ensure their cooperation, failing which they would face prosecution.

“Files have been finally approved for action against violations by those in home quarantine or in containment zones. Regrettably, however the file in this regard was received at Lt Governor’s office after a delay of four months [from the government],” she said.

Addressing the media virtually, Malladi Krishna Rao also said when teams of health officials and Asha workers visit houses to know of the health status of the inmates, there was ’no full cooperation’ and they cold shoulder the team members.

Mr. Rao expressed regret over those having symptoms of coronavirus not approaching the hospital on time. “Late arrival was found to be major cause of high rate of fatality,” he pointed out.

“It was also seen that those having symptoms also preferred to come to the hospitals in auto rickshaws or in their own vehicles. This should be avoided. The Health department would bring the ambulances on receipt ofinformation and take the infected to hospitals. Using personal vehicles or coming in autos would offer scope for the spread of the virus,” he said. — PTI

7:30 p.m. | Pakistan

Pakistan closes 22 educational institutes in 48 hours over non-compliance with COVID-19 SOPs

At least 22 educational institutions in Pakistan have been closed down during the last 48 hours for failing to comply with the government-issued standard operating procedures for curbing the spread of COVID-19, the country’s coronavirus control body said on Thursday.

In a statement, the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) said that action was taken after random checks.

“During the last 48 hours, 22 educational institutions across Pakistan have been closed due to non compliance of health SOPs/protocols and disease prevalence, it said.

Sixteen of these institutions were in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one in Islamabad and five in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. -PTI

7.15 pm | Maharashtra

Fresh medical graduates to be appointed at COVID-19 hospitals in Maharashtra

Over 1,000 medical students who would pass out from college this year would be posted in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients in Maharashtra, Medical Education Minister Amit Deshmukh said on Thursday.

The decision was taken as the number of COVID-19 patients is rising in the State and there is a need for doctors, he said in a release.

“The State government will get 1,204 bonded candidates from various disciplines of medical education and they will be posted as per their specialisation and requirement at the institutes treating COVID-19 patients,” he said.

“Bonded” candidates are those who have given a bond that they will serve in government hospitals for a certain period after passing out from medical colleges. They would be posted as resident doctors or medical officers as per their qualification, the Minister added.

“There is demand from district collectors across the State for additional medical staff and senior doctors,” Mr. Deshmukh said.

The results of final year exams of medical courses are awaited, the release noted.

The government will also appoint 444 specialists as senior resident doctors. The recruitment will be done by the Public Health Department and the post will carry a remuneration of ₹1 lakh per month, Mr. Deshmukh said. - PTI

7:00 p.m. | New Delhi

Painting stations and carrom board are part of a new child-friendly COVID ward at LNJP

Television sets playing cartoons, a painting station and carrom boards will be the features of a child-friendly COVID-19 ward at the State-run LNJP Hospital in New Delhi.

The new ward based on the theme -- From Suffering to Happiness -- was inaugurated on Wednesday.

The ward has six to seven television sets which play cartoons, a carrom board and a painting station so that the children can also enjoy while getting treated for the infection, officials said.

“It is unusual for a government set-up. We have set up a painting station for eight to 10-year-old children. This is a new concept to keep children busy. Usually, they are sad and weeping but this will keep them happy while they are getting treated,” the hospital’s Medical Director Suresh Kumar said.

He also added that since families are not allowed inside COVID-19 wards, this will keep the children engaged. - PTI

6:45 pm | Geneva

WHO Europe chief urges nations to keep up COVID quarantines

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) European director warned national governments against reducing the quarantine period for people potentially exposed to the coronavirus, even as he acknowledged that COVID-19 fatigue was setting in with growing public resistance to the measures needed to control the pandemic.

Dr. Hans Kluge said that even a slight reduction in the length of the quarantine could have a significant effect on the spread of the virus which returned to alarming rates of transmission” in Europe this month.

Dr. Kluge insisted that countries should only reduce the standard two-week quarantine period if it was scientifically justified. He offered to convene scientific discussions on the issue, if necessary.

WHO Europe’s 53-country region recorded more than 3,00,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the last week, and more than half of the countries reported a rise of more than 10% in cases over the last two weeks, he said. Of those countries, seven had their cases jump by more than two-fold.

Such statistics should be a wake-up call for all of us, Dr. Kluge said.

He called for regional coherence and said that Europe’s response has been effective when prompt and resolute. But the virus has shown (to be) merciless whenever partisanship and disinformation prevailed. Last week, France cut its required quarantine time for people possibly exposed to someone with COVID-19 from 14 days to seven, saying many people did not observe the full two-week period anyway.

6:30 pm | Mumbai

Coronavirus case tally in Dharavi reaches 2,975

The tally of coronavirus cases in Mumbai’s slum-dominated Dharavi area rose to 2,975 with 15 new cases coming to light on Thursday, said a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) official.

The area had recorded 15 new patients on Wednesday too.

2,557 patients from the area have already recovered from the infection while there are 146 active COVID-19 cases.

Spread over 2.5 square kilometres and housing a population of over 6.5 lakh, Dharavi is known as Asia’s largest slum.


6.20 pm | Tamil Nadu

COVID-19 count from Tamil Nadu | 5,560 persons test positive for COVID-19 in Tamil Nadu on Thursday and the overall tally is 5,25,420; 5,524 persons discharged today and the total discharged are 4,70,192; 59 deaths were reported today and the total death toll stands at 8,618; active cases are 46,610.

- Serena Josephine

6.15 pm | Kerala

Kerala to modify order allowing asymptomatic COVID-19 migrants to work

The Kerala government has decided to modify an order that allowed asymptomatic COVID-19 guest workers in the State to work in places exclusively marked for them by taking all health precautions.

The September 14 order issued by the General Administration Department (GAD) has been withdrawn and will be issued after modifications, a senior official said on Thursday.

The Order was issued after the industries sector raised concerns over the current quarantine norms allegedly causing delay in completion of infrastructure projects in the State.

The Order had said, “If the guest workers are found positive, such workers need to be segregated. If they are asymptomatic positive, then they may work in the areas exclusively marked for the work to be done by asymptomatic positive workers by taking all precautions. They shall not mix with any other worker or officer.”

According to it, the guest workers entering the State must be quarantined at a location chosen by the contractor for 14 days and those who have reached without taking a test must undergo an antigen test on the fifth day from their arrival.

The Order released by GAD secretary Satyajeet Rajan also detailed the new quarantine norms and registration process in the COVID-19 “Jagratha” portal, a comprehensive solution for real time surveillance, care and support for people affected or quarantined due to the coronavirus. - PTI

5.55 pm | New Delhi

11,616 Indians abroad infected with coronavirus: MEA

Over 11,600 Indians abroad have been infected with coronavirus as per details available with the country’s missions, the government informed the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

In a written reply to a question in the Upper House, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said Indian Missions arranged for the welfare of Indian nationals, where required, including through the Indian community associations.

In some cases, arrangements were also made for screening and testing of stranded Indian nationals to enable them to return to India, as also for movement of patients via air ambulances for their treatment in India, he said.

“As on September 10, 2020, as per the details available with Indian missions, the total number of Indian citizens abroad infected with coronavirus stood at 11,616,” he said.

Out of the 11,616 Indians infected with COVID-19 abroad, 4,618 were in Singapore, 2,639 in Bahrain, 1,769 in Kuwait, 907 in Oman, 420 in Qatar, 308 in Iran, 238 in the UAE and 192 in Italy. - PTI

5.30 pm | West Bengal

AIFF lays down strict COVID-19 guidelines for I-League qualifiers, players to stay inside bio-bubble

Relieved to be finally able to start the delayed football season next month with the I-League Qualifiers here, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Thursday said it will strictly implement the COVID-19 protocols during the event.

The I-League Qualifiers will be held from October 8 to 19 in two venues of West Bengal with five teams playing each other in a round-robin format.

The AIFF will put up a bio-secure bubble at a five-star deluxe hotel in Kolkata where all the teams and officials will be accommodated.

“After a prolonged halt in sporting actions owing to COVID-19 pandemic situation, we’re going to resume football in India through the Hero I-League qualifiers. It’s going to bring a sense of relief to players, officials, club management as well as us,” Leagues CEO Sunando Dhar said.

“But, there can never be any compromise with the safety of players and officials. We will be ensuring that all appropriate medical support is being given to the teams,” he said.

The AIFF has laid down the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) which are in line with the government guidelines. - PTI

5.15 pm | Uttar Pradesh

UP death toll climbs to 4,771; cases over 3.36 lakh

The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 4,771 in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday with 81 more fatalities, while 6,029 fresh cases pushed the infection tally in the state to 3,36,294, officials said.

The state now has 68,235 active COVID-19 cases and 2,63,288 people have recovered from the disease till date, Additional Chief Secretary (Medical and Health) Amit Mohan Prasad said.

The death toll due to the virus has climbed to 4,771 and the total number of cases has risen to 3,36,294, he added.

On Wednesday, the infection tally was 3,30,265 and taking it into cognisance the fresh cases are 6,029 in the last 24 hours. - PTI

4.55 pm | Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal CM tests negative for COVID-19 two days after testing positive

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Thursday said that he has tested negative for COVID-19.

He had tested positive for the virus on September 15.

Khandu, who is currently in home isolation in New Delhi, tweeted that he has tested negative for coronavirus after he conducted a repeat test on Wednesday.

I had undertaken a repeat Covid19 RT-PCR test yesterday. Because of the wishes and prayers of each one of you, I am glad to inform that I have tested NEGATIVE. Thank you all. #WearMask #StaySafe, Mr. Khandu wrote on his official twitter handle.

Union Sports and Youth Affairs Minister, Kiren Rijiju has expressed happiness over Khandus test result.

A good news for everyone, especially the people of Arunachal Pradesh that our Chief Minister @PemaKhanduBJP ji has tested negative for COVID-19. Let’s pray for him to remain healthy and continue to serve the people with full dedication, Rijiju, who hails from the north eastern state, tweeted. - PTI

4.36 pm | New Delhi

Irdai to take decision on extending tenure of COVID-19 related products: Chairman

Regulator Irdai is mulling over a plan to allow the tenure extension of COVID-19 specific insurance products as the vaccine for the disease is seemingly away by some more time, its chairman Subhash C Khuntia said on Thursday.

Besides, the insurance sector watchdog is also working towards facilitating a standard product for coronavirus, which will be easy to understand by policyholders and will not require “voluminous policy documents“.

“With regard to extending the tenure of the COVID-19 related products, we are hoping that the vaccine would not be delayed for too long. But now that it appears that it will take some more time, we will take decision about extending the tenure of the policy at an appropriate time,” Khuntia said while addressing the CII Insurance and Pensions Summit webcast.

Corona Kavach, which was launched on July 10 and is being offered by both general and health insurers, is a standard health insurance policy created to meet the treatment requirements for coronavirus infection. - PTI

4.15 pm | New Delhi

Time for opposition to join hands with Govt. to battle COVID-19: BJP leader

The opposition should join hands with the government to battle the “unprecedented” COVID-19 crisis that has brought the globe to its knees rather than indulging in “petty criticism and blatant sarcasm”, BJP leader Rajeev Chandrasekhar said in Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

Participating in a discussion on the COVID-19 pandemic and the steps taken by the Government, he said “Some are now questioning lockdown...this wisdom of hindsight is easy to develop but early interventions were crucial,” and termed the lockdown “unambiguously” necessary.

Almost all countries resorted to lockdown as the pandemic was unprecedented since 1918’s Spanish flu, he said and added that under the present situation, lockdowns are necessary tools in the tool kits of governments till vaccines are developed.

He said it is a tough choice between “life and livelihood” and credited the government for minimising economic contraction by taking a slew of steps to help revive different sectors. - PTI

4 pm | New Delhi

Less than 3% population in tribal-dominated districts COVID positive: Govt.

Less than 3% population in 177 tribal-dominated districts in the county has been detected as positive for coronavirus, the government told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

Union Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda also told the Upper House that so far, there has been “no report of major outbreak of the disease in tribal areas“.

Citing a recent study conducted by IIT Delhi, the minister said, Less than 3% of the population in 177 districts with 25% tribal population or more has been detected as coronavirus positive.

The minister also said the COVID response team of his ministry has formulated a pandemic response plan to protect the livelihoods and health of Scheduled Tribes. - PTI

3.45 pm | United Kingdom

WHO calls for consistent message on virus

The emergencies chief of the World Health Organization says scientific disagreements over COVID-19 interventions — like masks and vaccines — shouldn’t be treated as some kind of political football, but acknowledged that it isn’t easy for everyone to be on message all the time.

Asked to respond to the open disagreements between U.S. President Donald Trump and the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the effectiveness of masks and when a coronavirus vaccine might be available, Dr. Michael Ryan said it is important that we have consistent messaging from all levels.”

This is complicated stuff, Dr. Ryan said at a press briefing on Thursday. What is important is that governments (and) scientific institutions step back, review the evidence and give us the most comprehensive, easy-to-understand...information so that people can take the appropriate action. - AP

3.30 pm | Singapore

Most international students return to Singapore for new semester

Most of the international students, including those from India, studying in different universities in Singapore have returned to attend the new semester amid the COVID-19 pandemic as the country on Thursday reported the lowest number of 18 new infections in six months.

Some of the students have chosen to continue the online classes from overseas, whole most of the international students at Singapore’s autonomous universities are back here for classes, Channel News Asia (CNA) reported on Thursday.

For the new semester, that started from September 14, universities have opted for a mix of online and offline classes depending on the field of study, with large-scale lectures still held online.

The National University of Singapore (NUS), the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) said the majority of their international students have returned to Singapore. - PTI

3.15 pm | Karnataka

City civic body issues show-cause notice to 36 hospitals for not allocating 50% beds for COVID patients

The city civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has issued the final show-cause notice to 36 private hospitals for violating the Karnataka government’s mandate to allocate 50 per cent beds for the treatment of COVID infected.

It has warned that, any failure to comply with the same will be “viewed seriously” and action will be initiated under the relevant provisions of the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, 2020, Karnataka Private Medical Establishment Act, 2017 and Disaster Management Act, 2005, which include suspension of registration, fine and even imprisonment.

Among the hospitals that have been issued final show cause notice include- 21 with over hundred beds, 10 with 50- 100 beds and five with 20-50 beds.

“It is mandatory for private hospitals to allocate 50 per cent of the beds for the treatment of COVID infected.

Notices have been issued by BBMP to 36 private hospitals in Bengaluru who are denying treatment to those infected in violation of government rules. It is certain that strict action will be taken against hospitals violating law,” Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar tweeted. - PTI

2.30 pm | New Delhi

India should get COVID-19 vaccine at affordable rate: Azad

Noting that several countries have already secured favourable commitment for supply of a COVID-19 vaccine, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday said India should be well placed to get the vaccine at an “affordable price” and at an “early stage” through a mechanism like pooled procurement.

However, the government should be “over cautious” about the quality, safety and efficacy of a new vaccine as any long term side effects would impact India which has a large and young population, he said.

Participating in a debate on COVID-19 pandemic in the Upper House, the former health minister attacked the government for losing “golden months” to stop the spread of the disease despite a warning from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in December 2019 about the spread of a mysterious pneumonia in neighbouring China.

“It was happening in our neighbourhood, we should have been alert,” he said, adding that even former Congress President Rahul Gandhi had warned about the coming of a pandemic of this nature in March. - PTI


2 pm | United States

Immune system’s T cells play bigger role in reducing COVID-19 severity: Study

Vaccine candidates for COVID-19 should elicit a broad immune response that includes antibodies, and the body’s helper and killer T cells, according to a study which says weak or uncoordinated immunity may lead to a poor disease outcome.

The research, published in the journal Cell, confirms that a multi-layered, virus-specific immune response is important for controlling the novel coronavirus during the acute phase of the infection and reducing COVID-19 disease severity.

“Our observations could also explain why older COVID-19 patients are much more vulnerable to the disease,” said study senior author Shane Crotty from the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in the U.S.

“With increasing age, the reservoir of T cells that can be activated against a specific virus declines and the body’s immune response becomes less coordinated, which looks to be one factor making older people drastically more susceptible to severe or fatal COVID-19,” Mr. Crotty said.

In the research, the scientists collected blood samples from 50 COVID-19 patients, and analysed multiple branches of their immune system - novel coronavirus specific antibodies, helper and killer T cells. - PTI

1.30 pm | New Delhi

Lawyer challenges challan for not wearing mask when driving alone; HC seeks govt. reply

The Delhi High Court Thursday sought response of the Centre and AAP government on a lawyer’s plea challenging the ₹500 challan issued to him for not wearing a mask while he was driving alone.

Justice Navin Chawla issued notice to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Delhi government, Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) and the police seeking their stand on the petition which seeks quashing of the challan, refund of the ₹500 paid as fine and compensation of ₹10 lakh for mental harassment suffered by the petitioner.

The petitioner, Saurabh Sharma, has claimed in his plea that on September 9 while driving to work he was stopped by Delhi Police officials and was challaned for not wearing mask even though he was alone in the car.

Mr. Sharma, represented by advocate K C Mittal, has contended that there is a Health Ministry notification clarifying that wearing of mask was not compulsory while driving alone in a car.

Advocate Farman Ali Magray, appearing for the ministry, said that such a notification has been issued. - PTI

1.15 pm | New Delhi

Targeting to bring down mortality rate to less than 1%: Health Minister

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said India’s COVID-19 mortality rate at 1.64% is lowest in the world and the government is targeting to bring it down to less than 1%.

Replying to a debate in the Rajya Sabha, he said India’s recovery rate of 78-79% is one of the highest in the world. - PTI

1 pm | New Delhi

Centre should release funds to states from PM Cares Fund to deal with COVID-19: Sena

Stressing that there should no politicisation of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the Shiv Sena on Thursday asked the Centre to release money to states from the PM Cares Fund and also clear GST dues to help them deal with the coronavirus situation.

During the second day of discussion in Rajya Sabha on the pandemic and steps taken by the Centre, Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena) took exception to the criticism by some BJP leaders, including Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, of the measures taken by the Maharashtra government to control the pandemic.

“More than 30,000 people have recovered from COVID in Maharashtra. How did it happen?,” he said

In an apparent dig at Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, Mr. Raut said did those people recover by eating “Bhabhi Ji Papad“.

Mr. Meghwal had come under fire after he reportedly claimed that the ingredients of a papad brand ‘Bhabhi Ji Papad’ helps in formation of antibodies needed to fight COVID-19. - PTI

12.45 pm | New Delhi

9 out of 11 COVID-infected members of Great Andamanese tribe have recovered: Govt.

Nine out of the 11 coronavirus-infected members of the primitive Great Andamanese tribe in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have recovered, the government told Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

Union Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda also said that the particularly vulnerable tribal groups of Onges, Jarawas and Shompens are safe from the virus.

“The 11 infected members of the Great Andamanese tribe are among those who were either themselves engaged or had families working in government establishments. Except two, all of them have fully recovered and moved back to their settlement in Strait Island,” the minister told the Upper House.

There are only around 50 surviving members of the Great Andamanese tribe.

Mr. Munda said the archipelago administration was giving special focus and attention to the protection and wellbeing of PVTGs. - PTI

12.30 pm | New Delhi

BJP, AAP clash over issue of COVID-19 management during RS debate

The Aam Aadmi Party and the BJP clashed over the issue of COVID-19 management in Rajya Sabha on Thursday, with the AAP terming as “foolish” the prime minister’s call to clap and beat utensils in honour of coronavirus warriors.

BJP’s Sudhanshu Trivedi hit back, saying the PM’s move was symbolic and sought to unite the country socially just like Mahatma Gandhi chose the symbol of ‘charkha’ for national cohesion during the freedom struggle.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in March asked people to clap, beat steel plates and ring bells to express gratitude towards those risking their lives and working tirelessly during the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr. Singh, while participating in the debate on COVID-19, further used the occasion to accuse the government of looking for opportunity in times of disaster and alleged corruption in the procurement of equipment to fight the disease including thermometers and oxymetres. - PTI

12 pm | Arunachal Pradesh

Record 221 new cases push Arunachal’s COVID-19 tally to 6,692

Arunachal Pradesh reported its highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases on Thursday as 221 more people tested positive for the infection, a senior health official said.

The fresh infections have pushed the state’s coronavirus tally to 6,692, he said.

The northeastern state had registered a spike of 221 coronavirus cases also on September 9.

The Capital Complex region reported the highest number of new cases at 98, followed by Papumpare (33) and Lower Subansiri (13), State Surveillance Officer, Dr. L Jampa, said.

“Thirty Border Roads Organisation (BRO) personnel, four CRPF jawans, three policemen and a health worker are among the new patients,” Dr. Jampa said, adding four inmates of the Central Jail at Jully near Itanagar have also contracted the disease. - PTI

11.25 am | New Delhi

Union Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel tests positive

Union Tourism and Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel has tested positive for COVID-19. Mr. Patel made the announcement in Twitter, saying his reports came yesterday night.

Yesterday, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari tested positive for the pandemic.

11.00 am | Assam

100-year-old woman beats COVID-19

Her age may have posed a challenge but 100-year-old Mai Handique’s battle against COVID-19 was won by her positivity, doctors said on Thursday.

Handique, Assam’s oldest COVID-19 patient, was discharged from the Mahendra Mohan Chowdhury Hospital (MMCH) in Guwahati on Wednesday, they said.

A resident of the Mothers’ Old Age Home, she was admitted to the hospital ten days ago after testing COVID- positive.

Handique, called Aita (grandma) by all at the hospital, told reporters that she enjoyed her stay and the food. “We were given fish or meat on most of the days while egg and banana were given daily. We were also given ‘ruti- bhaji’ (chappatis and vegetables) which I enjoyed the most,” she said.

She also thanked all those who treated her, saying, “The girls (the nurses) and the doctors’ took very good care.”

“Steely resolve of 100-year old Mai Handique is monumental. With brilliant support of doctors at MMCH, she defeated coronavirus, giving us a lesson in having the right will power,” he said.

A doctor treating Handique said, “Initially, we were worried due to her age and she also has hypertension, but she was always cheerful and in a positive frame of mind.”


10.30 am | Karnataka

Many home isolation patients reporting to hospitals after symptoms worsen

C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said the viral load in some patients can increase after the fifth day and that is the reason for some under home isolation turning critical.

C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said the viral load in some patients can increase after the fifth day and that is the reason for some under home isolation turning critical.


Volunteer doctors assisting the BBMP in triaging positive patients said they are getting at least 10 to 15 calls a day seeking admission from patients who had earlier refused hospitalisation. This apart, many are going to private hospitals directly after their symptoms worsened following five to six days of home isolation.


10.00 am

China's Sinovac to test coronavirus vaccine candidate in teenagers, children

Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech plans to start a clinical trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine with children and adolescents later this month, widening its test on a shot that's already in the final stage of study with adults.

9.30 am

Tripura Tribal Welfare Minister tests positive

Tripura Tribal Welfare Minister Mevar Kumar Jamatia has tested positive for coronavirus even as the total cases crossed 20,000 in the State. He is the eighth MLA to have contracted the infection.

Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb tweeted on Wednesday that Mr. Jamatia, who is also holding the forest portfolio, has been infected with COVID-19.


9.00 am | Delhi

Delhi BJP chief tests positive for COVID-19

State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Adesh Gupta has tested positive for COVID-19.

Mr. Gupta had previously tested negative but got tested again due to bad health conditions over a week. As many as 17 staffers staying at the party’s State headquarters on Pant Marg had tested positive on Tuesday.


8.00 am | Tamil Nadu

63 doctors died after testing positive for COVID-19 in T.N.: IMA (HQ) data

Reaching out: A team of volunteers going around in PPE suits to spread awareness about maintaining physical distancing and wearing masks, in Visakhapatnam.

Reaching out: A team of volunteers going around in PPE suits to spread awareness about maintaining physical distancing and wearing masks, in Visakhapatnam on Sunday.


Sixty-three doctors have died after contracting COVID-19 in Tamil Nadu, according to data released by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) headquarters on Wednesday.

The association has published a list of 382 doctors who died after testing positive for COVID-19 in the country.

7.30 am

COVID-19 impact: Railways traffic earnings down 42% till August, says Piyush Goyal

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. File

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. File


With regular operations disrupted due to the COVID-19 , the traffic earnings of the Railways has declined by over 42% to ₹41,844.31 crore till August over the same period last year, Parliament was told on Wednesday.

Up to the end of August, the number of originating passengers was just 1.27% of the corresponding period last year, while freight loading was 86.6% of the corresponding period last year.

7.00 am | Maharashtra

Plan for post-COVID care facilities, Shirole tells CM

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Siddharth Shirole has urged the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government to come up with post-COVID care guidelines to help ‘recovered’ patients who may be suffering from COVID-19 sequelae.


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