Coronavirus India lockdown Day 177 | September 18, 2020

A woman wearing a mask to protect herself from the coronavirus paints a thangka, a traditional Tibetan Buddhist painting in Dharmsala on Sept. 15, 2020.   | Photo Credit: AP

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told Rajya Sabha on Thursday that there is a possibility of a vaccine for COVID-19 to be out by early next year. He claimed that India is among the few countries globally that have succeeded in isolating the virus.

The government is aiming to bring down India’s mortality rate for the coronavirus to less than 1% from the current 1.64%, the Minister said.

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:

10:00 p.m. | New Delhi

Govt cancelled ICMR’s purchase orders from China for COVID-19 test kits, says MoS Health Ashwini Choubey

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had placed purchase orders for COVID-19 antibody test kits to Indian firms which were cancelled subsequently with no payment made to any Chinese company, the Lok Sabha was told on Friday.

In a written reply to a question, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey said the ICMR has not imported huge quantities of antibody test kits from China.

Narrating the sequence of incidents which led the government to withdraw the faulty COVID-19 antibody test kits from China and the grounds on which the import orders were cancelled, Mr. Choubey said antibody kits of M/s Aark Pharmaceuticals (Wondfo) and M/s Gene2me (Livzon) were sent to the field.

“When complaints were received from states of Rajasthan, Punjab, Karnataka regarding non-performance of the antibody test kit in the field, and based upon the said feedback from the field, those purchase orders were cancelled without any payment,” the minister said in his reply.

“Simultaneously, the licenses of these companies were also cancelled by Drug Controller General,” he said. - PTI

9.20 pm | Covax initiative

UK joins Covax initiative for vaccine discovery, distribution

The UK government on Friday formally joined the global Covax initiative, set up to boost the discovery, manufacture and effective distribution of a vaccine against COVID-19.

UK Business Minister Alok Sharma said the initiative, co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), will expedite the process for the worldwide search for a vaccine against the deadly virus.

“The global effort to find a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine is not a competition, but is among the most urgent shared endeavours of our lifetime — it benefits us all to be better equipped to fight this virus,” said Mr. Sharma.

“That’s why I am delighted to confirm that the United Kingdom will join the global Covax initiative to expedite the discovery, manufacture and fair distribution of a vaccine to one billion people.

“Today’s landmark agreement complements the various vaccine deals the UK has already made and ensures we have the best chance of accessing a safe and effective vaccine for people in the UK as soon as one becomes available, as well as supporting access in poorer countries,” he said.

Covax, an international initiative to support the discovery, manufacture and fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for 1 billion people by the end of 2021, has sought firm commitments from countries by this month.

 

9:00 p.m. | New Delhi

Delhi LG calls for restrategising COVID-19 containment policy, unlocking measures, contact tracing

Lt Governor Anil Baijal has directed authorities to prepare a blueprint to restrategise containment policy, unlocking measures and aggressive contact tracing amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the national capital.

He was speaking at a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA). Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Health Minister Satyendar Jain, Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot and other top officers attended the meeting.

“Advised officials & experts to jointly prepare Blue Print for re-strategizing containment zone policy to reduce positivity & mortality rate. Emphasised on aggressive IEC campaign particularly in vernacular languages to engage stakeholders for ensuring Covid appropriate behaviour,” Mr. Baijal said in a tweet.

It was emphasised in the meeting that the focus of COVID-19 management in Delhi should be on containing transmission, strengthening medical infrastructure, improving recovery of patients and reducing fatalities, a senior government officer said. - PTI

8.40 pm | India

Government talking to Russia for possible advancement of its COVID-19 vaccine: Ashwini Choubey

The Centre is in consultations with the Russian government for exploring the possibility of cooperation between the two countries for advancing the COVID-19 vaccine in India, Parliament was told on Friday.

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has informed that it has received information about one COVID-19 vaccine developed and approved in Russia, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey informed the Lok Sabha.

Further, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), an autonomous organisation under the Department of Health Research, has informed that as per information available from WHO draft landscape of COVID-19 vaccine (last update on September 17), globally there are 36 candidate vaccines which are under various stages of clinical trials.

“Of this only 02 are Indian candidates (Bharat Biotech International Ltd. and Cadila Healthcare). All the 36 candidates are under various stages of clinical trials. None of the candidate vaccine so far has completed all stages of clinical trial,” he said in a written reply.

In response to a question on whether the government is in talks with Russia and other countries to procure COVID-19 vaccine doses in the upcoming months, Mr. Choubey said, “The Department of Biotechnology has informed that the Government of India is in consultations with the Russian Government for exploring the possibility of cooperation with Russia for advancing COVID-19 vaccine in India.”

Further, Phase II and III bridging studies of ChAdOx1-S, a vaccine developed by University of Oxford/AstraZeneca have been initiated in India. - PTI

8.20 pm | U.S.

NYC mayor ‘very confident’ in new school reopening timeline

Mayor Bill de Blasio is confident that New York City will meet a revised timeline to bring public school students back to classrooms within the next two weeks, following closures because of the coronavirus pandemic, he said on Friday.

"I feel very confident about that date," de Blasio said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. De Blasio on Thursday delayed the reopening plan for the nation’s largest school district for the second time since it was announced in July, citing a shortage of staff and supplies.

Unions representing the city’s teachers said it wouldn’t have been safe to open all the school sites next week.

Under the revised timeline, most elementary school students will return to in-person learning starting September 29, while middle and high school students will do the same October 1.

De Blasio told MSNBC that he needs the health care situation to cooperate to make the schools plan work but that he was confident because of how well New York has fought to keep the virus at bay, such as through social distancing and wearing of masks.

The unions had pressed for more staff, as well as additional protective equipment and other supplies to protect against the virus. De Blasio promised Thursday to hire 2,500 more teachers in addition to the 2,000 additional teachers he had previously announced.

He told MSNBC the city will use substitute teachers, student teachers and adjunct professors from the city university system to fill staffing needs.

New York City is planning for the majority of its more than 1 million public school students to be in the classroom one to three days a week and learning remotely the rest of the time. Early childhood education and special education students will return to in-person learning next week, de Blasio said.

8.09 pm | Maharashtra

Maharashtra recorded its highest single-day recoveries on Friday, with 22,078 patients being discharged to take the cumulative recoveries till date to 8,34,432. The State added 21,656 new COVID-19 cases to take its total case tally to 11,67,496. The number of active cases stands at 3,00,887. As many as 440 deaths pushed the total death toll to 31,791. Pune reported more than 4,000 cases to take its total case tally to 2,53,554. The district reported 39 deaths to take its total death toll to 5,133. Mumbai reported 2,411 cases to take its total case tally to 1,80,668 of whom 34,259 are active. 52 fatalities saw the city's death toll rise to 8,375.

- Shoumojit Banerjee

8:00 p.m. | New Delhi

Schools to remain closed for all students till October 5, says Delhi govt.

All schools in the national capital will continue to remain closed till October 5 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delhi government announced on Friday.

The latest guidelines by the Centre, however, have allowed calling students of classes 9 to 12 to schools from September 21 on voluntary basis.

“All government and private schools will remain closed for all students till October 5. However, online teaching and learning activities will continue as usual,” an official order issued by the Directorate of Education (DoE) said. - PTI

7.46 p.m | Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh on Friday recorded 2,552 new COVID-19 cases, taking the tally to 1,00,458. The number of active cases stands at 21,605. As many as 24 patients died of the illness on the day, taking the State-wide death toll to 1,901. As for recoveries, 2,554 patients were discharged from hospitals on the day. So far, 76,952 persons have been cured of the illness, says the State Directorate of Health Services.

- Serena Josephine

7.40 pm | Jammu & Kashmir

Jammu & Kashmir COVID-19 caseload past 60,000-mark; death toll reaches 966

The number of COVID-19 cases in Jammu and Kashmir zoomed past the 60,000-mark on Friday as the Union Territory recorded 1,330 fresh cases, while 15 more fatalities pushed the death toll to 966, officials said.

It was for the 16th consecutive day that the number of fresh cases have crossed 1,000 in a 24-hour period. The UT recorded 1,330 fresh cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours - 672 in Jammu and 658 in the Kashmir Valley,” the officials said.

The cumulative figure of positive cases in Jammu and Kashmir has now gone past the 60,000-mark to 61,041. Srinagar district reported the highest number of 237 new cases, followed by 221 in Jammu district, the officials said.

There are 20,770 active cases of coronavirus, while 39,305 patients have recovered so far, they said. A total of 15 deaths took place in the past 24 hours in the UT, 10 in Jammu and five in the valley, taking the death toll to 966, the officials said. - PTI

7.20 pm | New Delhi

High RTPCR machine cost might be a hurdle in ramping up testing in Delhi: officials

High cost of procuring RT-PCR machines might prove to be a hurdle in implementing the Delhi High Court’s suggestion to ramp up RT-PCR testing in the national capital amid a surge in the cases, officials said on Thursday.

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday suggested that the AAP government increase the RT-PCR test capacity to the maximum possible to detect COVID-19 infection, as Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) were only 60 per cent accurate.

The high court asked an expert committee, set by the Lieutenant Governor (LG), to convene a meeting on priority basis to consider the extent to which capacity of testing by RT-PCR should be ramped up.

The bench also noted that in the week from September 8-15, the testing done through RT-PCR was less than one-fourth of the total number of tests and rest was done by the RAT process.

The RAT process is considered less accurate as compared to RT-PCR due to its high false negative rate. An RT-PCR machines costs Rs 15-20 lakh, officials said.

A senior Delhi government official told PTI, “We will need more RT-PCR machines to ramp up testing. These machines are quite expensive. It is not possible to make this kind of investments at this stage. The government can try, but it is already reeling under shortage of funds.”

 

7:00 p.m. | Pune

Consult elected leaders on curfew, Deputy CM tells Pune officials

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has told the Pune district administration to consult elected representatives from the region before imposing curfew orders in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

He said elected representatives from the district, Mayors of Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad etc must be consulted.

Police officials said section 144 of CrPC was not in force in Pune, but few crowd-control provisions of Maharashtra Police Act were in place in the district. - PTI

6.52 pm | India

Yoga helps COVID-19 patients boost immunity, reduces stress: Union Minister Ashwini Choubey

Yoga is helping COVID-19 patients across the country boost immunity and reduce stress levels, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey told Parliament on Friday.

In a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha, he said the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga (MDNIY), an autonomous body under the Ministry of AYUSH, has imparted yoga training to almost 6,500 COVID-19 patients.

“The practice of Yoga is benefiting the COVID-19 patients across the country, in terms of enhancing the immunity, reducing the stress level etc,” Mr. Choubey said.

The MDNIY has imparted yoga training to around 6,500 COVID-19 positive patients. Out of these, the institute has compiled the data of around 200 patients, as part of a pilot project, he said. - PTI

6.49 pm | Tamil Nadu

COVID-19 count from Tamil Nadu | 5,488 persons tested positive for COVID-19 in Tamil Nadu on Friday, taking the overall tally to 5,30,908; 5,525 persons discharged today and the total discharged are 4,75,717; 67 deaths were reported today and the total death toll stands at 8,685; active cases are 46,506.

- Serena Josephine

6.40 pm | Karnataka

KSRTC to operate buses to Maharashtra from September 22

The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation on Friday said it will restart its operations to Maharashtra from September 22.

In a statement, the KSRTC said it had stopped operation of inter-State bus services due to COVID-19 and the resultant lockdown.

“As lockdown has been relaxed, KSRTC will restart the operations to Maharashtra State from September 22,” the statement read.

The services will be operated from Bengaluru, Davangere, Mangaluru and various other places of the State keeping in view the density of passengers, the transport corporation said. The KSRTC said it is mandatory for the passengers to wear masks.

It said passengers can book tickets in advance online at www.ksrtc.in or through KSRTC/Franchisee advance reservation counters for the above services.

Even before the lockdown was effected, the KSRTC had stopped its AC bus services to various States and gradually suspended the inter-State bus movement due to coronavirus scare. The suspension of bus services led to a loss of crores of rupees to the State-owned transport corporation.

With the unlock phase on, the KSRTC resumed services but not to Maharashtra which was one of the COVID-19 hotspots. - PTI

6.30 pm | Karnataka

Schools and PU colleges to open from Sept 21 but no regular classes: Karnataka Education minister

Schools and pre-university colleges in Karnataka will open from September 21 not to resume classes but to clear the doubts of students related to their studies, Karnataka Minister for Primary and Secondary Education S Suresh Kumar said on Friday.

He said the government was awaiting the Centre’s approval for resuming regular classes.

“From September 21, teachers of Class-9, Class-10, Class-11 and Class 12, will be present in the school to clear the doubts of the students related to their studies.

It will not be like regular classes,” Kumar told reporters here.

He was in Mysuru along with the District In Charge Minister S T Somashekar to inaugurate the Central Library.

Replying to the queries on resuming regular classes, Kumar said “Under any circumstances, regular classes will not start.We are waiting for the green signal from the Centre to resume regular classes.”

6.10 pm | Tamil Nadu

Chennai Metro Rail incurs ₹80 crore loss owing to lockdown

Chennai Metro Rail has taken a huge hit and incurred a loss of ₹ 80 crore since the trains services remained suspended for months together after COVID-19 hit the city.

In response to a question raised by Member of Parliament Benny Behanan in Lok Sabha, Union Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said, Chennai Metro Rail had reported a loss of ₹ 80 crore in this period.

Chennai Metro Rail with a network of 45 km used to run services from 4.30 a.m. till 11 p.m. running nearly 650 trips a day, carrying about 1.15 lakh on an average everyday. Sources said, they would receive nearly Rs. 12-14 crore a month, including fare and non fare box revenue, as operational revenue before the pandemic hit Chennai. But now, this has shrunk and they run it from 7 a.m. till 9 p.m. with nearly 450 trips a day and nearly 15,000-16,000 passengers have been travelling through the system. The timings of trains may be increased by an hour soon, if more people travel. -- Staff Reporter

5.55 pm | Himachal Pradesh

Schools in Himachal from Classes 9-12 to reopen from Monday

The Himachal Pradesh government has decided to reopen schools from Classes 9 to 12 from Monday, almost six months after remaining shut due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision in this regard was taken in a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Friday evening, an official spokesperson said.

Educational institutions in the State were closed in March after the outbreak of the deadly virus. The Cabinet gave its nod to open educational institutions outside the containment zones in the State from September 21 as per the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the spokesperson said.

These schools will be opened with 50% teaching and non-teaching staff in attendance for students from Class 9 to Class 12, provided the students are willing to take guidance from the teachers, he said.

For this, a written consent of the parents or guardians of students is mandatory, the spokesperson added. - PTI

5.54 pm | Israel

Israel returns to coronavirus lockdown as cases mount

Israel went back into a full lockdown on Friday to try to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has steadily worsened for months as its government has been plagued by indecision and infighting.

The three-week lockdown, which began at 2 p.m. (1630 IST), will require the closure of many businesses and set strict limits on movement and public gatherings. The closures coincide with the Jewish High Holidays, when people typically visit their families and gather for large prayer services.

In an address late Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that even stricter measures may be needed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. There are currently more than 46,000 active cases, with at least 577 hospitalised in serious condition.

Under the new lockdown, nearly all businesses open to the public will be closed. People must remain within 1 kilometre of home, but there are several exceptions, including shopping for food or medicine.

Israel has reported a total of more than 175,000 cases since the outbreak began, including at least 1,169 deaths. It is now reporting around 5,000 new cases a day, one of the highest per capita infection rates in the world.

In Tel Aviv, hundreds of people protested the renewed lockdown on Thursday, including doctors and scientists who said it would be ineffective.

Dr. Amir Shahar, head of an emergency department in the city of Netanya and one of the organisers of the demonstration, said the lockdown is disastrous and would do more harm than good. - PTI

5.53 pm | Tripura

273 new COVID-19 cases, six deaths in Tripura

At least 273 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Tripura on Friday, pushing the tally in the State to 20,972, a Health Department official said. Six more fatalities took the death toll to 228.

West Tripura district, of which State capital Agartala is a part, has accounted for 127 of the 228 COVID-19 deaths.

The northeastern State currently has 7,162 active coronavirus cases, while 13,559 people have recovered from the disease. Twenty-three patients have migrated to other States.

A total of 3,47,962 samples have been tested for COVID-19 in Tripura so far, the official added. - PTI

5.35 pm | Kerala

Kerala scraps earlier decision to allow asymptomatic COVID-19-positive migrant labourers to work

The State government has scrapped an earlier decision to allow asymptomatic COVID-19-positive migrant labourers to work. The General Administration Department has issued ‘revised instructions’ for the quarantine of migrant/specialised workers which prevent them from working if they test positive.

“If the migrant worker is found COVID-19 positive, he shall be segregated and shall not be allowed to work till he recovers from COVID-19,” says the modified order issued on Thursday.

A September 14 Order allowed the COVID-19 positive but asymptomatic employee to work, provided precautionary measures are taken. The decision had drawn criticism.

The other conditions remain the same, though. Employees who arrive in Kerala will remain in quarantine for 14 days. The contractor should provide them with individual rooms which are safe and hygienic.

Read more
 

5.33 pm | Japan

Safer UV light can effectively kill coronavirus without harming humans, say scientists

Scientists have shown for the first time that a form of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is safer to use around humans, can effectively kill the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, an advance that may lead to a potent disinfection system for occupied public spaces including hospitals.

The study, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, offers first proof that Ultraviolet-C (UVC) light with a wavelength of 222 nanometres (nm) effectively kills the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and it may not penetrate the human skin.

According to the researchers, including those from Hiroshima University in Japan, previous studies involving 222 nm UVC, also known as Far-UVC, have so far only looked at its potency in eradicating seasonal coronaviruses that are structurally similar to the novel coronavirus, but not on SARS-CoV-2 itself. In the current research, the researchers spread a 100 microlitre solution containing the virus onto a nine-centimetre sterile polystyrene plate, and allowed it to dry in a bio-safety cabinet at room temperature before placing the Far-UVC lamp 24 centimetres above the surface of the plates.

They showed that 99.7% of the SARS-CoV-2 viral culture was killed after a 30-second exposure to 222 nm UVC irradiation. The study noted that at this wavelength of 222nm, UVC cannot penetrate the outer, non-living layer of the human eye and skin. - PTI

5.30 pm | Puducherry

Pondicherry University announces open book mode for end semester exams

Pondicherry University announced on Friday that end semester examinations for students of affiliated colleges will be conducted under open book mode in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To ensure fair and equal opportunity for students appearing through online, offline or blended mode it is decided to conduct end semester (final semester) exams for students under the open book exam mode as per guidelines of the UGC on examinations and Academic Calendar issued in April last,” a release from the university’s Controller of Examinations said.

The release said that students are allowed to refer to books, notes and other study materials to answer questions. Answers should reflect the understanding of the concept and not verbatim copying from sources.

The university has also stated that the Chief Superintendents were expected to ensure that the relevant materials were not exchanged between students to avoid COVID-19 infection.

All other conditions such as duration of examination, pattern of question papers remain the same, the release said. Students should answer in A4 white sheets in black ink. Scanned papers are to be sent to the respective colleges within 30 minutes after the scheduled time of the examinations. The end semester examinations will begin on September 21. - PTI

5.17 pm | Madhya Pradesh

Supply 90% oxygen for medical use: M.P. government asks manufacturers

In a bid to ensure adequate supply of oxygen for COVID-19 patients, the Madhya Pradesh government has directed the manufacturers of the life-saving gas in the State to ensure that 90% of their output is reserved for medical purposes. The State Public Health and Family Welfare Ministry issued an order to this effect on Thursday.

“To all transporters of liquid oxygen, oxygen manufacturers by air separation unit and re-fillers of oxygen gas of Madhya Pradesh shall use 90% of their total transporting/generating/re-filling capacity to produce and distribute oxygen for medical purposes only,” the Order said.

“Remaining 10% capacity can be used to supply oxygen for industrial or other purposes,” it added.

A company called INOX that used to supply oxygen to Madhya Pradesh from its Nagpur-based plant, stopped the gas transportation to the State last week, which set the alarm bells ringing for the State.

After that, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had spoken to his Maharashtra counterpart Uddhav Thackeray about the shortage of oxygen cylinders and the latter assured him of maintaining the supply to the State.

In the wake of rise in COVID-19 cases, Madhya Pradesh needs 110 tonnes of oxygen per day, the State Public Relations Department had recently said. Mr. Chouhan had also asked the oxygen plants in Madhya Pradesh to increase their production to full capacity from the present 50-60%. - PTI

5.05 pm | World

Global coronavirus cases top 30 million, tally shows

Confirmed cases of the coronavirus have topped 30 million worldwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. The worldwide count of known COVID-19 infections climbed past 30 million on Thursday, with more than half of them from just three countries: the U.S., India and Brazil, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins researchers.

The number increased by 10 million in just over a month; global cases passed 20 million on August 12. The United States leads the by-country count with at least 6,675,560 reported cases, followed by India with at least 5,214,677 and Brazil at 4,455, 386, the numbers showed.

Individual numbers could vary as the university’s tally sometimes lags behind country reports. The U.S. also leads in the number of deaths at 197,643, followed by Brazil at 134,935 and India with a death toll of 84,372, the tally showed. - AP

4.50 pm | Gujarat

Former Gujarat CM Keshubhai Patel tests positive

Former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel has tested positive for novel coronavirus, health officials said on Friday.

He underwent a COVID-19 test as one of his attendants was detected with the infection on Thursday after which samples of the former were taken for antigen and the RT-PCR process, said Gandhinagar Civil Hospital Superintendent Dr. Niyati Lakhani.

“His antigen test returned positive while the results for the RT-PCR test is yet to come,” Mr. Lakhani informed. The 92-year-old leader’s family said he is in home isolation in Gandhinagar. - PTI

4.43 pm | Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh reports 98 more COVID-19 deaths; tally climbs to 3.42 lakh

Uttar Pradesh reported 98 more fatalities due to COVID-19 on Friday, taking the death toll to 4,869, while 6,494 fresh cases took the infection tally to 3,42,788. The State now has 67,825 active COVID-19 cases and 2,70,094 people have recovered from the disease till date, Additional Chief Secretary (Medical and Health) Amit Mohan Prasad said.

On Thursday, the total number of COVID-19 cases were 3,36,294. Taking it into account the fresh COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours were 6,494. Mr. Prasad said the recovery rate of COVID-19 patients in the State is 78.79%.

He said more than 1.55 lakh tests were conducted on Thursday and the total number of COVID-19 tests done so far in the State has crossed 82.85 lakh, which is the maximum in the country. Of the 67,825 active cases, 35,124 patients are in home isolation, which is 51.78% of the total active cases.

“So far, 1,73,782 people have opted for home isolation in the State and of them over 1.38 lakh have completed their isolation period and have recovered,” he added. - PTI

4.40 pm | New Delhi

Follow preventive measures against COVID-19: Delhi CM to gym owners

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday appealed to gym owners and people coming for workouts at these establishments to follow preventive measures against COVID-19.

Representatives of the gym associations met the Chief Minister and thanked him for allowing these establishments to reopen in the city.

“I appeal to all gym operators of Delhi and people coming for workouts at these centres to follow safety rules. We also have to stop the spread of coronavirus and stay healthy as well,” Mr. Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi.

According to the Chief Minister’s Office, during the meeting, the CM also assured support to the gym operators in future. Earlier this week, the Delhi government had allowed gyms and yoga institutes to reopen after being closed for over five months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, Delhi recorded 4,432 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking the tally to over 2.34 lakh while the death toll reached 4,877 with 38 fresh fatalities. On Wednesday, the national capital had registered a record single-day spike of 4,473 COVID-19 cases. - PTI

4.30 pm | Maharashtra

Lok Biradari project closed for tourists till December

The Lok Biradari Prakalp founded by social worker Baba Amte at Hemalkasain Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district will remain closed for tourists till December in view of the coronavirus threat.

Medical director of the project Dr. Prakash Amte made this announcement on his Facebook page on Friday.

“Two persons from the project and relatives of some workers from outside have tested positive for coronavirus. Lok Biradari Prakalp will remain closed for tourists till December 2020,” he said.

Director of the project Aniket Amte told PTI that the hospital run under the project will remain open for patients.

The project, founded by late Baba Amtenearly five decades ago for integrated development of local tribals, attracts a sizable number of visitors in normal times. It runs a hospital, school and an animal orphanage among other things. - PTI

4.25 pm | New Delhi

Schools closed in Delhi till Oct 5

Directorate of Education has announced that all schools in the Capital will remain closed till October 5 for all students.

Online classes will continue with the heads of schools allowed to call teachers/staff to school as per requirement  to continue teaching/learning activities and online classes. - Jaideep Deo Bhanj

3.30 pm | Tamil Nadu

95% of COVID-19 patients at Government Rajaji Hospital discharged after recovery, DME says

Around 95% of the 6,817 COVID-19 patients admitted to Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) to date, have been discharged after complete recovery, said R. Narayana Babu, Director of Medical Education, here on Friday. He was addressing media persons after inspecting the COVID-19 treatment facilities at the hospital.

Dr. Narayana Babu said that the availability of all medicines, doctors and oxygen facilities in GRH helped to treat COVID-19 patients successfully, even when there was a steep rise in positive cases in Madurai. The GRH, which is the main referral hospital for southern Tamil Nadu, has 1,467 beds to treat COVID-19 patients. Out of these, a total of 416 beds are currently occupied.

Read more
 

3.00 pm | New Delhi

Top 5 states with high active COVID-19 caseload report high level of recoveries too

The top five states with a high number of active COVID-19 cases -- Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh -- are also the ones that are reporting a high level of recoveries, the health ministry said on Friday.

With a record 87,472 patients having recuperated or having been discharged from home or facility-supervised care and hospitals in a span of 24 hours, the total number of COVID-19 recoveries has surged to 41,12,551 in the country, taking the recovery rate to 78.86 per cent, while the case fatality rate has dropped to 1.63 per cent, it added.

2.15 pm | Israel

Israel returns to virus lockdown as cases mount

Israel is set to go back into a full lockdown later Friday to try to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has steadily worsened for months as its government has been plagued by indecision and infighting.

The three-week lockdown beginning at 2 p.m. will include the closure of many businesses, strict limits on public gatherings, and will largely confine people to within a kilometer of their homes. The closures coincide with the Jewish High Holidays, when people typically visit their families and gather for large prayer services.

In an address late Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that even stricter measures may be needed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.

There are currently more than 46,000 active cases, with at least 577 hospitalized in serious condition.

- AP

2.10 pm | Uttarakhand

Haridwar Kumbh to be numerically restricted: Rawat

The 2021 Haridwar Kumbh will be held with a restriction on the number of people congregating for the event, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said on Friday.

“Passes will be issued to devotees as the congregation will be numerically restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic,” Mr. Rawat told reporters here at a virtual interaction.

Mr. Rawat said he had discussed the matter with saints and seers and they were in agreement with the idea of reducing the scale of the event numerically owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

- PTI

2.00 pm | Meghalaya

Schools in Meghalaya to 'partially reopen' from September 21

Schools in Meghalaya, shut for six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will partially reopen from next week for students to meet teachers and clarify their doubts, Education Minister Lahkmen Rymbui said on Friday.

The schools will be open for students of class IX to XII to meet teachers to clear their doubts but there will be no regular classes and no classroom session, he said.

“Schools will be partially opened up from September 21 for students to come and meet their teachers and clarify doubts on subjects they find difficult. There will be no regular classes and no classroom sessions,” Mr. Rymbui said. The guidelines for reopening of schools have been issued on Thursday, he said.

As per the guidelines issued by the Education Department principal secretary D.P. Wahlang, “regular” classroom activities in schools, colleges and other educational institutions would remain closed till September 30 across the State.

- PTI

1.50 pm | New Delhi

Health Ministry rushes team to Jammu after COVID numbers rise

With 9,428 confirmed COVID cases, of which 6,115 are active cases, and 117 deaths in Jammu, the Union Health Ministry has said on Friday that it has decided to depute a high level Central team to Jammu which will support the State efforts towards strengthening containment, surveillance, testing and efficient clinical management of the positive cases. The Central team shall also guide in effectively managing the challenges related to timely diagnosis and follow up.

- Bindu Shajan Perappadan

1.40 pm | Maharashtra

MSRTC buses start operating with full passenger capacity

Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) started operating its buses with 100% passenger capacity, instead of the earlier 50%, from Friday morning.

MSRTC was operating its buses with 50% capacity, allowing only one person per seat, since resuming intra-district services from May 22 and inter-district trips from August 20 after coronavirus-induced lockdown was eased.

According to MSRTC officials, the State-run corporation is expecting an increase in ridership across the State.

The decision will also bring some respite to commuters from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, which is facing shortage of public transport in the absence of suburban train services.

- PTI

1.30 pm | Tamil Nadu

Shops reopen at Koyambedu foodgrains market

Shops at the Koyambedu wholesale foodgrain market in Chennai reopened on Friday, September 18, 2020, after a gap of nearly four months.

Shops at the Koyambedu wholesale foodgrain market in Chennai reopened on Friday, September 18, 2020, after a gap of nearly four months.   | Photo Credit: M. Vedhan

After a gap of four months, nearly 60% of the shops at the wholesale foodgrains section, reopened at the Koyambedu market complex on Friday, with many restrictions to ensure safety against COVID-19.

Wholesale traders noted that there was a lukewarm response from customers on the first day of reopening, and said it would take some time for business to improve. The number of vehicles were limited to only 50-60 vehicles, including those that came to unload goods.

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1.15 pm | New Delhi

Provide gadgets, internet pack to poor students for online classes: HC to schools

The Delhi High Court Friday directed private as well as government schools to provide gadgets and an internet package to poor students for online classes, saying the absence of such facilities prevent children from pursuing elementary education.

A Bench of Justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula said private unaided schools “shall be entitled to claim reimbursement of reasonable cost for procurement of the equipment and internet package from the State under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, even though the State is not providing the same to its students”.

The court said the committee shall also frame SOPs for identifying the standard of the equipment and internet package to be supplied to the poor and disadvantaged students.

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1.10 pm | New Delhi

Why insult corona warriors, Rahul asks on govt.’s ‘no data on deaths of healthcare worker’ RS reply

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday attacked the government for stating that data on healthcare staff who were affected by COVID-19 or had died from it is not maintained centrally and alleged that “corona warriors” are being insulted.

Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey informed the Rajya Sabha this week that health is a State subject and “such data is not maintained at Central level by Ministry of Health”. This was in response to a question on the number of healthcare staff, including doctors, nurses, support staff and ASHA workers, who have been affected by coronavirus or died due to it.

Tagging a news report on Mr. Choubey’s reply, Mr. Gandhi titled his tweet, “Adverse data-free Modi government!”

“Their (healthcare workers’) safety and respect are more important than beating plates or lighting lamps,” the former Congress chief tweeted in Hindi, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated campaigns honouring ‘corona warriors’.

- PTI

1.00 pm | New Delhi

Mandatory daily antigen test for reporters, Parliament staff

Amid fresh cases of coronavirus among MPs, reporters and parliamentary staff entering the Parliament complex will have to undergo mandatory antigen test on a daily basis, according to a new protocol put in place.

Members of both Houses are undergoing RT-PCR test on regular intervals on a voluntary basis, said a senior Parliament official. Journalists covering the Monsoon session from press galleries of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha also have the option to undergo the RT-PCR test which is valid for 72 hours.

Since the report of the much reliable RT-PCR takes time, antigen test has been made mandatory on a daily basis.

Government officials accompanying their respective Ministers during bill discussions also have to show a negative report of RT-PCR test taken within the last 72 hours of their visit to the complex.

Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari and Prahlad Patel have tested positive for COVID-19. Both had attended the ongoing session which began on September 14.

Several MPs had tested positive for COVID-19 around the time the session began and they were advised not to attend proceedings.

- PTI

12.50 pm | New Delhi

Venkaiah Naidu asks RS members to adhere to safety measures

Before the Rajya Sabha proceedings started for Zero Hour on Friday, Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu advised members not to go to each other’s seats or come to the Table House when the House is in session for any clarification and send slips, if the issue was urgent.

“No member is expected to come to Table office when House is in session...Members are requested not to go to other member’s seat and bend and whisper in their ears...Please avoid. If you have something to communicate, send slips. It is not allowed in examination halls but is allowed here,” Mr. Naidu said, prompting laughter in the House.

When a member in lighter vein asked whether they could come over for a cup of tea, Mr. Naidu said they can send slips informally and he will try to address the issue to the extent possible.

He also advised all parliamentarians not to come to the Chairman’s office and added that while he enjoyed meeting people, under the present circumstances, safety norms had to be followed. Air circulation is restricted in closed rooms, he noted.

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12.35 pm | New Delhi

Delhi Capitals' 'small token of gratitude' for COVID warriors

IPL team Delhi Capitals on Friday said its players will don jerseys bearing the message “Thank You COVID Warriors” during the entire tournament in UAE, calling the initiative a “small token of gratitude” towards the frontline workers fighting the pandemic.

IPL starts on Saturday in Abu Dhabi with defending champions Mumbai Indians taking on Chennai Super Kings.

- PTI

12.30 pm | Maharashtra

Maharashtra Minister Nitin Raut tests COVID-19 positive

Maharashtra Energy Minister Nitin Raut on Friday said he has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the ninth member of the State Cabinet to contract the infection.

Mr. Raut, 63, who is also the working president of the State Congress, tweeted about his diagnosis.

“I have tested positive for COVID-19. I would request all those who had come in contact with me to get themselves tested as a precautionary measure,” he said.

Mr. Raut is the ninth Minister in the MVA government to test positive for COVID-19.

- PTI

12.20 pm | USA

Barr under fire over comparison of virus lock-in to slavery

Attorney General William Barr drew sharp condemnation Thursday for comparing lockdown orders during the coronavirus pandemic to slavery.

In remarks Wednesday night at an event hosted by Hillsdale College, Barr had called the lockdown orders the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history since slavery.

During a CNN drive-in town hall in Pennsylvania on Thursday night, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden joined the criticism of Barr’s slavery comment.

Did you ever, ever think, any of you,” Biden said, that the attorney general would say that following the recommendations of the scientific community to save your and other peoples’ lives is equivalent to slavery, people being put in chains. He added: I never, ever, ever thought I would see such a thoroughly, totally irresponsible administration.

- AP

12.15 pm | Maharashtra

HC seeks Maharashtra govt. reply over PIL on COVID-19 drugs

The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the Maharashtra government to file a reply to a PIL seeking that drugs used to treat COVID-19 patients be made available directly at hospitals, isolation and quarantine centers where such patients were being admitted.

The direction was given by a Bench led by Justice K.K. Tated while hearing the PIL filed by a local NGO, All Maharashtra Human Rights Welfare Association.

The plea claimed that since drugs crucial to treating COVID-19, such as Remdesivir, and an injection Actemra, are available only at select chemists, a patient loses much time in availing treatment.

- PTI

12.00 pm | Maharashtra

Take loan from World Bank to help States: Sena tells Centre

The Shiv Sena on Friday slammed the Modi government over the economic crisis faced by the country, saying demonetisation and “mishandling” of the coronavirus-induced lockdown were to be blamed for the current situation.

An editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana criticised the NDA government for what it called trying to “wash its hands of the crisis“.

“On March 13, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said there was no health emergency in the country, while on March 22, the Prime Minister imposed a one-day ‘janata curfew’ and on March 24 announced a 21-day lockdown with just four-hour notice,” the Marathi daily said.

“The chaos and uncertainty which began that day continue even now,” the former BJP ally said and added the Centre “mishandled” the lockdown.

The editorial said the need of the hour is that the Centre stands firmly with states during this crisis.

- PTI

11.45 am | USA

New rapid COVID-19 test with improved sensitivity developed: researchers

Researchers have developed a new rapid test for the detection of the novel coronavirus that can be performed in less than an hour, and with minimal equipment, and “can detect nearly as many cases as the standard COVID-19 diagnostic.” With further research, the scientists, including those from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, said the new test, known as STOPCovid, could be made cheaply enough so that people could test themselves every day.

In the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers showed that the new test detected 93 per cent of the positive cases as determined by conventionally used COVID-19 diagnostic.

- PTI

11.40 pm | Time

Lockdown, visa expiry hold up return of Sindhi men from Pakistan

Eleven Sindhi community men with a refugee status in India are stranded in Pakistan along with their newly married wives due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown and end of their visa term.

Their families originally hail from Pakistan but they are now settled in different Indian cities though they are yet to be granted citizenship.

“They are unable to return to India as per their plan because of the lockdown in India that was imposed in March-end. Their No Objection to Return to India (NORI) visa has already expired, Indore BJP Lok Sabha member Shankar Lalwani told PTI.

“As these 11 couples wish to start their lives soon in India, I have taken up their matter with the Centre so that their visa process can be expedited.” “The government has assured to consider the matter sympathetically,” Mr. Lalwani said.

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11.30 am | Tamil Nadu

South Korea donates 1 lakh masks

Social Welfare Corporation Anguk Zen Center in South Korea, headed by the Venerable Abbot, Subul Sunim, donated one lakh masks for free distribution, to aid India’s fight against COVID-19. The donation was coordinated by K-Art International Exchange Association in Korea and InKo Centre in India.

The consignment was handed over to Venu Srinivasan, chairman, TVS Motor Company, for free distribution through the Srinivasan Services Trust, the social service arm of TVS Motor Company, according to a release.

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11.15 am | West Bengal

Govt. should provide free smartphones to all school children: NGO

To ensure that no children are left behind in education in the COVID pandemic situation, governments should distribute textbooks, free smartphones or tablets to all school children, an NGO has said.

Also, States should provide free data package or reimburse the cost of data, which would also require substantial investment to strengthen digital infrastructure including the regular supply of electricity to all households, child right NGO CRY said in a report.

“A clear roadmap with timelines needs to be developed to ensure inclusive digital infrastructure are some of the key measures required for delivering online classes to the last mile child,” the report released on Tuesday said.

The report expressed concern for many of the children who have been excluded from school education during the COVID pandemic and voiced fear that they may not be able to return to schools again. “Even if they do, a large number of children would not find a level playing field anymore,” it said.

- PTI

11.00 am | New Delhi

Follow corona guidelines, make planet healthy: PM Modi on what he wants on birthday

Noting that many people have asked him what he wants on his birthday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that he would want COVID-19 guidelines like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing to be followed and that everyone should work to make “our planet healthy”.

Mr. Modi turned 70 on Thursday, with world leaders and politicians and other leading personalities from the country extending their wishes to him.

In a tweet, he said, “Since many have asked, what is it that I want for my birthday, here is what I seek right now: Keep wearing a mask and wear it properly. Follow social distancing. Remember ‘Do Gaj Ki Doori.’ Avoid crowded spaces. Improve your immunity. Let us make our planet healthy.”

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10.45 am | New Delhi

Dubai suspends AI Express flights till Oct. 2 for bringing passengers with COVID-positive certificates

The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority has suspended Air India Express flights till October 2 for allegedly bringing passengers with COVID-positive certificates twice during the last couple of weeks, senior government officials said on Friday.

As per the UAE government rules, each passenger travelling from India need to bring original COVID-negative certificate from RT-PCR test done 96 hours prior to the journey.

“A passenger, who had a COVID-positive certificate dated September 2, travelled on Air India Express’ Jaipur-Dubai flight on September 4. A similar incident had happened with a passenger on one of the airline’s other Dubai flights previously,” said one of the officials.

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10.30 am | USA

Trump will not attend UN General Assembly in person

U.S. President Donald Trump will not attend next week's UN General Assembly gathering in person, his chief of staff told journalists aboard Air Force One Thursday, according to a pool report.

The decision marks an about-face for Mr. Trump, who last month said he wanted to deliver his speech in the General Assembly hall in New York, even if other world leaders are staying away due to the coronavirus pandemic.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows ended the debate once and for all, telling reporters en route to Wisconsin, where Mr. Trump was to hold a campaign rally, that he would not physically attend the General Assembly's 75th session, which will take place mainly by videoconference due to the health crisis.

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10.15 am | New Delhi

COVID-19 tally in India past 52 lakh, recovery rate 78.86%

India’s COVID-19 tally raced past 52 lakh with 96,424 people testing positive in a day, while the number of people who have recuperated from the disease rose to 41,12,551 on Friday, according to the Union Health Ministry data.

The country’s recovery rate stands at 78.86%.

The total coronavirus cases mounted to 52,14,677, while the death toll climbed to 84,372 with the virus claiming 1,174 lives in a span of 24 hours, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.

The COVID-19 case fatality rate due to the coronavirus infection has further dropped to 1.62%.

There are 10,17,754 active cases of COVID-19 in the country which comprises 19.52% of the total caseload, the data stated.

- PTI

10.10 am | USA

Ex-Pence adviser says Trump bungled virus; she’s for Biden

A former adviser to Vice President Mike Pence who served on the White House coronavirus task force says President Donald Trump once suggested that COVID-19 might be a good thing because it would stop him from having to shake hands with disgusting people.” Olivia Troye is the latest former member of the Trump administration to speak out against him and urge voters to deny him a second term.

She joins a growing list that includes Miles Taylor, former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, and former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.

Mr. Trump said Thursday that he did not know Ms. Troye, who was Mr. Pence’s homeland security adviser.

In a video released Thursday by the group Republican Voters Against Trump, Ms. Troye says working for Mr. Trump was terrifying and says he was more concerned about his reelection chances than about protecting the nation from the virus.

- PTI

10.00 am | Puducherry

Puducherry fatality rate crosses 2%

The Union Territory’s COVID-19 case fatality rate, which has been on a steady climb, crossed 2% for the first time on Thursday as the administration warned of prosecuting patients and kin who delay seeking treatment at a designated hospital.

With the capital reporting 10 deaths and Karaikal three in the last 24 hours, raising the cumulative toll to 431, the UT’s CFR of 2.01% is well above national average of 1.64.

Health Minister Malladi Krishna Rao said Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy had held a review of the COVID-19 mortalities with him, especially on the fatalities of patients below 60 years of age in Puducherry, where it emerged that a majority of the deaths occurred due to the delay in reporting to a COVID-designated hospital.

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9.45 am | Goa

Goa to prepare SOP on providing oxygen to COVID-19 patients

The Goa government will prepare a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to ensure that all COVID-19 patients, whether with mild, moderate or severe symptoms, get oxygen on time in State-run facilities, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane has said.

Mr. Rane made the statement after chairing a meeting of an expert committee that on Thursday reviewed the COVID-19 situation in Goa which is witnessing a rise in positive cases.

- PTI

9.30 am | New Delhi

5 Metro rail corporations suffered ₹2,000 cr. loss due to lockdown: Centre

Five Metro rail corporations — in Delhi, Bangalore, Lucknow, Chennai and Kochi — have reported combined losses of almost ₹2,000 crore due to the COVID-19-induced suspension of services, according to a reply given to the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

In a written reply to Kerala Congress MP Benny Behanan’s question, Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Puri informed the House that the Delhi Metro had suffered a loss of ₹1,609 crore, while the Bangalore Metro, the Lucknow Metro, the Chennai Metro and the Kochi Metro lost ₹170 crore, ₹90 crore, ₹80 crore and ₹34.18 crore respectively due to “halting of Metro rail services during the COVID-19 period.”

Asked if there had been any impact on loan repayments by any of the Metro services due to the lockdown since March, the Minister replied in the negative.

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9.15 am | Los Angeles

The Batman filming resumes following shutdown over Pattinson’s COVID-19 diagnosis

Warner Bros. has announced that the filming on its much-anticipated DC superhero movie The Batman has resumed after being shutdown for over two weeks.

The production on the Matt Reeves-directed film was halted on September 3 after lead star Robert Pattinson tested positive for COVID-19.

Following a hiatus for COVID-19 quarantine precautions, filming has now resumed on The Batman in the U.K., a spokesperson for Warner Bros. Pictures told Variety.

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9.00 am | Odisha

5 platoons for Bhubaneswar to enforce COVID-19 norms

A day after Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed displeasure over non-adherence of COVID-19 guidelines in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, the city police announced that five platoons of armed police will be deployed to enhance enforcement.

The COVID-19 situation continues to worsen in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. Khordha district, of which Bhubaneswar is a part, now leads the COVID-19 tally with 28,794 cases. Ganjam district is now at the second spot with 19,444 cases.

8.45 am | Tamil Nadu

Actor Ramarajan tests positive for COVID-19

Actor Ramarajan, 65, has tested positive for COVID-19.

He was admitted to the National Institute of Ageing situated on the premises of the King Institute of Preventive Medicine, on Wednesday.

His condition was said to be stable.

8.30 am | Karnataka

Pandemic pushes up demand for seasonal flu shots

While the wait for COVID-19 vaccine continues, several people in the city are opting to take the seasonal flu shot to protect themselves from other respiratory illnesses.

The shots are available at various private hospitals and clinics, and doctors are advising people to take them so that they do not catch seasonal flu as the healthcare system is burdened owing to the pandemic. Some clinics are also providing vaccination camps in societies, workplaces, and homes. There are discounts and special offers on group bookings too.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a seasonal flu shot would provide protection against three or four influenza viruses that research suggests may be most common during the season. “Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever during 2020–21 to protect yourself and the people around you from flu, and to help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” states its website.

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8.15 am | New Delhi

COVID-19 test at airport for international passengers

The government has allowed RT-PCR testing at the airport of entry on a pilot basis to facilitate the transfer of international passengers, it said in Parliament on Wednesday.

Airports will set up sample collection-cum-waiting lounges. Passengers can either wait for the test results here or proceed to a hotel nearby for isolation until the result is known. These tests can be booked online, according to information shared by the Minister of State for Civil Aviation Hardeep Puri in the Rajya Sabha.

If the test result is negative, passengers will be permitted to exit the waiting lounge and proceed to the departure gate to catch the connecting flight. However, if the result is positive, they will be processed in line with applicable ICMR protocols by the State authorities.

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8.00 am | Tamil Nadu

Second serosurvey in Chennai by Sept. end

The Greater Chennai Corporation will conduct a second serosurvey in the city in the last week of September.

Corporation Commissioner G. Prakash said Chennai would be the first city to conduct a study of T cells in recovered COVID-19 patients, in addition to the serosurvey. “The T-cell study will be for academic purposes. T cells play a role in immune response in COVID-19 patients, in addition to the antibodies,” said an official.

Seroprevalence in the city is expected to be around 40%, said Mr. Prakash.

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7.45 am | Maharashtra

Corona clouds Jewish New Year fete

The Jewish community in India is gearing up for low-key celebrations of Jewish New Year and related festivals on account of the ban on entry of community members to synagogues and restrictions on congregations in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, starts on the evening of Friday and will end on Sunday evening. It will be followed by a month of festivals and rituals. The sudden imposition of Section 144 in Mumbai from Thursday midnight to contain the spread of COVID-19 has added to the community’s dampened mood.

“This will be the first time that we will not be able to conduct the religious rituals as usual. Community members are sad because they are deprived of going to the synagogue but since the government has taken decisions for the safety of people, we can not complain,” said Samuel Elijah Daniel Bamnolkar, president, Shaar Hashamaim Synagogue, Thane.

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7.30 am | Tamil Nadu

No relief for special children, they have to appear for board exams

Parents of children with disabilities are worried about their wards contracting COVID-19 infection when they appear for exams.

While Class 10 students in mainstream schools were exempted from writing the board exams and declared ‘passed’, children from special schools have not been given that concession.

Despite repeated representation by groups of activists and parents, there has been no reprieve. According to Sathish Kumar, an activist with Disability Rights Alliance, around 1,000 children will be taking the exams, that are scheduled from Monday.

On Thursday, a group of people, including parents of children with special needs, met with the Commissioner for the Welfare of Differently Abled persons. The meeting lasted several hours where the parents voiced their concerns.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 2:08:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-india-lockdown-september-18-2020-live-updates/article32636135.ece

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