Coronavirus India lockdown Day 179 | September 20, 2020

From conducting merely 10,000 tests per day on April 8, the average daily number has crossed 12 lakh with 12,06,806 tests conducted on Saturday.

September 20, 2020 09:49 am | Updated 10:01 pm IST

Medics examine a policeman for COVID 19 in Bhopal. File

Medics examine a policeman for COVID 19 in Bhopal. File

India has overtaken the U.S. and become the top country in terms of global COVID-19 recoveries , said the Union Health Ministry on Saturday, adding that the country has reported the highest number of total recoveries, with more than 42 lakh (42,08,431) COVID-19 patients having recovered.

Of the new recovered cases, about 60% are being reported from five States — Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

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:

9.45 pm | Maharashtra

Nashik’s COVID-19 count crosses 64,000-mark with 1,495 cases

The tally of coronavirus positive cases in Nashik district of Maharashtra crossed the 64,000- mark on Sunday with the addition of 1,495 cases, health officials said.

The case count now stands at 64,002, they said.

The virus claimed 18 more lives during the day, which pushed the death toll in the district to 1,173, the officials said.

Of them, six were from areas within the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) limits, six from other parts of the district and as many others from Malegaon town.

Out of the total number of positive patients, 43,811 were from Nashik city, 16,385 from other parts of the district and 3,420 from Malegaon, the administration said.


9:30 p.m. | New Delhi

Delhi records less than 4,000 daily cases after five days; total count past 2.46 lakh

The national capital’s COVID-19 case count went past 2.46 lakh today with 3,812 more people contracting the viral disease, while 37 fresh fatalities pushed the death toll to 4,982, according to the Delhi government’s health bulletin.

Before this, the city had recorded over 4,000 cases for five consecutive days.

The Capital recorded 4,071 cases on Saturday, 4,127 on Friday, 4,432 on Thursday, 4,473 on Wednesday and 4,263 on Tuesday. - PTI

9:15 pm | New Delhi

Findings of serosurvey in containment zones in 10 cities communicated to states for further actions: ICMR

The findings of a serosurvey in dynamic containment zones in 10 cities to assess the extent of COVID-19 transmission have been communicated to the respective states for further action, the ICMR said on Sunday and added that the second round of a countrywide serosurvey has been successfully completed.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) comment comes following media reports of health researchers, apparently under instructions from senior ICMR officials, alleging that they were not allowed to include data from containment zones in 10 hotspot cities in the first national serosurvey study paper published recently.

“ICMR has been continuously communicating with the respective state authorities. The findings of the previous survey from the dynamic containment zones were communicated to the states for further action,” the apex health research body tweeted on Sunday.

“The second round of countrywide serosurvey led by ICMR has been successfully completed. The final phase analysis of the survey is now underway and will offer a comparison with the results of the first survey,” it said in an another tweet.

To further aid in developing state intervention plans, following the nationwide survey, states have also conducted their zone/city-specific surveys, the ICMR said. — PTI

9:00 pm | Kerala

Issue of fake COVID certificates: Minister warns of action

Health Minister K.K. Shylaja has said that stringent action will be taken against those involved in the distribution of fake COVID-19 test certificates in Kulathoor grama panchayat.

The local body recently unearthed the circulation of forged documents which were made to appear as those issued by the Pozhiyoor primary health centre (PHC). Condemning the act, Ms. Shylaja cautioned that such illegal activities would lead to the uncontrolled spread of the infection. Such deeds were inhumane and should be prevented at all costs. The police had been directed to probe the incident and book those responsible under the Kerala Epidemic Diseases Ordinance 2020, she said.

The seal of the PHC was also found to be forged to issue the fake certificates that were allegedly given to fishermen at rates ranging from ₹2,000 to ₹3,000 in order to enable them to engage in fishing activities in other places such as Neendakara, Kochi and Beypore.

The Pozhiyoor police have registered a case and commenced a probe on the basis of a complaint submitted by the Pozhiyoor PHC, official sources said.

8:30 p.m. | Guwahati

Police complaint against Assam minister for addressing rally amid COVID-19

A complaint has been filed against Assam minister Pijush Hazarika for allegedly violating COVID-19 protocols by addressing a poll rally in Baksa district, the police has said.

Hazarika, the Minister of State for Health, addressed a rally in Tamulpur earlier this week for the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) election, which is suspended indefinitely due to the pandemic. The meeting drew a huge crowd, raising concerns as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the State.

The complaint, which was filed in Guwahati, has been forwarded to Baksa district as the alleged violation took place there, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Central) of Guwahati Police Sarmistha Baruah said. - PTI

8:15 pm | Kerala

Kerala records highest single-day spike of 4,696 coronavirus cases

Kerala reported the biggest ever single-day spurt in COVID-19 cases on Sunday with 4,696 additions, taking the total infection count in the state to 1.35 lakh.

This is the fourth consecutive day that the southern state has recorded more than 4,000 cases.

With16 more deaths, the toll rose to 535.

“At least 2,751 patients have recovered from the deadly disease. There are 4,425 cases of local transmission and the contact source of 459 were not traceable.

Among those diagnosed with the virus on Sunday, 44 have returned from abroad and 137 from other states.

Eighty healthcare workers were also infected by the disease,” state Health Minister K K Shailaja said in a release.

Thiruvananthapuram reported 892 new cases, the highest in the state, followed by Ernakulam 537, Kozhikode 536, Malappuram 483, and others.

The minister said so far 95,702 people have recovered from COVID-19 in the state and currently, 39,415 patients are undergoing treatment.

There are a total 2.22 lakh people under observation in various districts and 25,918 in isolation wards of various hospitals.

Meanwhile, a 54-year-old man, who tested positive for the virus and was admitted to a government hospital in Kollam in July was discharged onFriday, after recovering completely from the disease.

Announcing the discharge of Titus in his Facebook page, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday said Titus was treated at the Paripally medical college in Kollam for 72 days.


8.00 pm | Hyderabad

CCMB scientists analyse 2,000 SARS-CoV-2 genomes from India

Scientists at the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad have analysed more than 2,000 SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 genomes from India available in the public domain to understand the various strains in circulation.

Earlier in June, the team had revealed the presence of a distinct virus population among Indians.

This was named the clade I/A3i, and is recognised by the presence of 4 specific variations in their genetic makeup (genomes).

At that time, 41% of all Indian SARS-CoV-2 genomes belonged to this clade.

However, the current analysis showed that the proportion of the A3i clade dropped to 18%, it said.

The decrease in the proportion of A3i clade is accompanied by an increase of the A2a clade, also referred to as the G clade or the 20A/B/C clades in other nomenclatures.

Viruses of the A2a or the G clade carry the D614G mutation in their spike protein which is shown to be associated with an increased infectivity.

At present, approximately 70% of all Indian as well as global SARS-CoV-2 genomes fall into this clade.

“As expected for a strain which is more infectious, A2a clade quickly became the dominant clade in India just like everywhere else. There is no evidence to state that this mutation is clinically a more difficult one,” Dr. Rakesh K. Mishra, Director, CCMB and a co-author of the study said.

“The similarity in viral genome globally should be considered a positive news, because a vaccine or a drug targeting this mutation will work with the same effectiveness all over the world,” he added.

It is, however, important to note that no clade at present has been conclusively shown to be associated with a more severe form of COVID-9, or an increased risk of death.

The findings of the study done with scientists from CSIR-Institute of Integrative Biology as collaborators, are now peer-reviewed and published in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases published by the Oxford University Press, the CCMB release said. — PTI

7.45 pm | Madhya Pradesh

Fine those violating outbreak norms in poll campaign: Ex-CEC

Former Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat on Sunday suggested imposition of hefty fines for COVID-19 protocol violations during campaigning for upcoming polls.

The statement comes as campaigning for 28 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, which will require bypolls, have begun, though no date has been fixed for them as yet.

There are also periodic reports of violation of social distancing norms and other aspects of the outbreak protocol as parties get into campaign mode.


7:30 pm | Itanagar

Arunachal Pradesh CM tests negative for second time

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, who was infected with COVID-19 recently, tested negative for the virus for the second time today. Mr. Khandu had tested positive for COVID-19 on September 15.

Taking to Twitter, the Chief Minister who is currently in home isolation in New Delhi, informed that he has tested negative for coronavirus for the second time after a repeat RT-PCR test. “Today my repeat RT-PCR test for COVID-19 came negative for second time. #WearMask #StaySafe,” Mr. Khandu wrote on his official twitter handle.

So far, seven lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19 in the northeastern state. - PTI

7:15 pm | Rajasthan

1,865 fresh COVID-19 cases in Rajasthan; 14 more die

Fourteen more people died of coronavirus in Rajasthan on Sunday, raising the death toll to 1,336, while 1,865 fresh cases pushed the infection count in the state to 1,14,989.

Two COVID-19 patients died in Jaipur, while one death each was reported in Ajmer, Alwar, Banswara, Bharatpur, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Karauli, Kota, Nagaur, Pali, Sirohi and Udaipur, according to official data.

The maximum of the fresh cases on Sunday were reported from Jaipur, where 328 persons tested positive for the virus.

Other cases were reported in Ajmer (101), Alwar (114), Banswara (26), Baran (10), Barmer (14), Bharatpur (37), Bhilwara (104), Bikaner (58), Bundi (22), Chittorgarh (29), Churu (30) and Dausa (22).

Dholpur reported 20 cases, Dungarpur (17), Ganganagar (29), Hanumangarh (34), Jaisalmer (10), Jalore (4), Jhalawar (21), Jhunjhunu (31), Jodhpur (301), Karauli (10), Kota (62), Nagaur (42), Pali (125), Pratapgarh (6), Rajsamand (11), Sawaimadhopur (11), Sikar (39), Sirohi (16), Tonk (41) and Udaipur (140).

A total of 95,469 patients have recovered from COVID-19 so far.

The number of active cases in the state as of now is 18,184, as per the data.


7.00 pm | New Delhi

Country witnessed ‘fundamental breakdown’ in government machinery during COVID-19 pandemic: Tharoor

Alleging “utter mismanagement” in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said the country witnessed “fundamental breakdown” in government machinery in the past few months, instead of mature and proactive governance.

Participating in a discussion in Lok Sabha on the pandemic, he said that instead of clearly communicated protocol and comprehensive strategies on part of the government, the country witnessed lack of clarity, readiness and preparedness to combat the virus.

He also alleged that had the government listened to warning about the virus made by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and others, the situation surely would have been managed better.

The ruling dispensation, he said, continued to delay the implementation of a national strategy to stop the spread of the virus. “This was the first failure of the government,” he said.

The failure to adequately recognise the scale and complexity of the problem the nation was dealing with, compounded their unwillingness to listen to the voices that warned well in advance of the consequences of ignoring the problem of such magnitude, he said.

When the number of cases were comparatively low in India there was still time for the government to execute comprehensive strategy to curb the virus, he said.

The advance warning would have given time to those overseas to come back to India and also would have given sufficient time to migrant workers to return to their home States. “It is moral responsibility of any government to take the nation into confidence and not leave them in dark,” he said.

“Yesterday...India recorded a fresh set of 93,337 cases compared to 42,000 in USA and tragically additional death of 2,247 compared to 800 something in USA effectively making us the country with the highest number of daily cases and deaths globally,” he said.

He also said due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown which had to be imposed, the country’s economy is in a bad shape now and added that the arrangements were not made to fight with the virus. If the migrant workers were allowed to go to their home towns in the beginning the current situation would have not arisen.

He also that there was minimal effort by the government to reach out to the stakeholders to curb the spread of the virus. The government should have taken the nation into confidence which it did not do as a result the nation “is losing confidence in you (government)”. — PTI

6.45 pm | India

No significant mutation of coronavirus in India: Harsh Vardhan

No significant or drastic mutation in strains of SARS-CoV-2 has been found in India till now, Union Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday during an interaction with his social media followers.

He also said the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has been conducting large-scale sequencing of nationally representative strains collected over a few months and detailed results on mutations of the virus will be available in early October.

Replying to queries during the ‘Sunday Samvad’ platform, Mr. Vardhan further said enough oxygen is being produced in the country and the health ministry is closely monitoring the situation.


6:30 p.m. | Amaravati

COVID-19 tally in Andhra Pradesh touches 6.25 lakh

The coronavirus tally touched 6.25 lakh in Andhra Pradesh today as 7,738 more cases were reported even as 10,608 more patients got cured.

In the 24 hours ending 9 a.m. on Sunday, the State recorded 57 fresh fatalities, taking the gross toll count to 5,359, according to the latest bulletin.

After a sum of 51,04,131 sample tests, the State saw a total of 6,25,514 coronavirus positives so far, the overall positivity rate being 12.26%. In all 5,41,319 patients have recovered, leaving 78,836 active cases in the state, the bulletin added. - PTI

6.21 pm | Karnataka

Karnataka to form panel to study long term effects of COVID-19 in those recovered

The Karnataka government on Sunday said a committee comprising medical experts will be formed to study the long-term effects of COVID-19 among those who have recovered from the illness and tested negative for the virus.

In a tweet, state Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar said, “Karnataka will constitute a special technical committee of medical experts to study the long term effects of COVID-19 in patients who have recovered from the infection.”

The panel will evaluate those who had mild and severe symptoms, especially people with comorbidity.

New strategies would be drawn up for clinical care to ensure that those who recovered from the viral infection do not develop any health complications in the future, the minister noted.

Karnataka has so far reported 5.11 lakh infections and 7,922 deaths till Saturday evening.

The infections include recovery of 4.05 lakh people and 98,564 people undergoing treatment in various hospitals.


6 pm | New Delhi

32,238 paramilitary personnel contract COVID-19: Govt.

The government on Sunday said a total of 32,238 paramilitary personnel were infected by the coronavirus so far.

Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said in Lok Sabha that 9,158 personnel of the CRPF, 8,934 personnel of the BSF, 5,544 personnel of the CISF, 3,380 personnel of the ITBP, 3,251 personnel of the SSB, 1,746 personnel of the Assam Rifles and 225 personnel of the NSG were infected by the virus.

Among the infected, the highest recovery rate is reported in CRPF (84.4%), followed by BSF (80.41%) and CISF (75.25%), he said replying a written reply.

Rai said the highest death rate has been reported in CISF (0.43%), followed by the Assam Rifles (0.40%) CRPF (0.39%). - PTI

5.45 pm | New Delhi

Record over 12 lakh COVID-19 tests conducted in 24 hours: Health Ministry

Crossing a crucial milestone in the battle against COVID-19, a record number of over 12 lakh tests were conducted in the country for the detection of the disease in a span of 24 hours, taking the total number of such tests performed so far to more than 6.36 crore (6,36,61,060), the Centre said on Sunday.

This strongly demonstrates a substantial strengthening of the COVID-19 testing infrastructure in the country, the Health Ministry said, underlining that India’s daily testing numbers are among the highest in the world.

From conducting merely 10,000 tests per day on April 8, the average daily number has crossed 12 lakh with 12,06,806 tests conducted on Saturday.

The last one crore tests were conducted in merely nine days and the Tests Per Million (TPM) have been boosted to 46,131, the ministry highlighted.

“Higher testing leads to early identification of positive cases and a timely and effective treatment. This eventually leads to a lower mortality rate,” it said.

As evidence has revealed, higher numbers of testing also result in a lowered positivity rate, it added.

The sharp decline in the daily positivity rate has demonstrated that the rate of spread of the infection is being contained, the ministry underscored. - PTI

5.30 pm | Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh CM tests COVID-19 negative for second time

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, who was infected with COVID-19 recently, tested negative for the virus for the second time on Sunday.

Mr. Khandu had tested positive for COVID-19 on September 15.

Taking to Twitter, the Chief Minister who is currently in home isolation in New Delhi, informed that he has tested negative for coronavirus for the second time after a repeat RT-PCR test.

“Today my repeat RT-PCR test for COVID-19 came negative for second time. #WearMask #StaySafe,” Mr. Khandu wrote on his official twitter handle. - PTI

5.15 pm | New Delhi

5 states account for 60% active COVID cases, 52%new cases, 60% fresh recoveries in India

With 94,612 people recuperating from COVID-19 in a span of 24 hours, the total number of recoveries in the country has surged to 43,03,043, taking the national recovery rate to 79.68%, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.

As many as 60% of the new recoveries were reported from five states - Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu - which also accounted for 52% of the new cases, the Ministry highlighted.

Maharashtra continued to top the chart with more than 23,000 new recoveries, while both Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh accounted for over 10,000 single-day recoveries, it said.

The country has reported more than 94,000 recoveries for two successive days, the Ministry said.

A total of 92,605 fresh COVID-19 cases have been reported in the country in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of such cases to 54,00,619. - PTI

5 pm | New Delhi

Asked states to ensure swift processing of frontline health workers’ insurance claims: Choubey

The Centre has, through a number of letters, asked states and Union Territories to ensure swift processing of insurance claims under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package’ to frontline health workers fighting COVID-19, Rajya Sabha was informed on Sunday.

The ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package Insurance Scheme for Health Workers Fighting COVID-19’ was announced on March 30.

This central scheme provides an insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh to healthcare providers, including community health workers, who may have to be in direct contact and care of COVID-19 patients and therefore at risk of being infected. It also includes accidental loss of life on account of contracting COVID-19.

Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey said in a written reply that regular video conferences have been held with states along with the representatives of the New India Assurance Co. Ltd to coordinate and expedite the submission of claims so that the benefit reaches the bereaved family in time. - PTI

4.45 pm | New Delhi

Disposal of PPE kits, other biomedical waste challenge during COVID-19 pandemic: Govt.

Disposal of biomedical waste including PPE kits worn by healthcare professionals and public became a challenge during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Union Health Ministry told the Rajya Sabha on Sunday.

As informed by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), disposal of bio-medical waste including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kit worn by healthcare professionals as well as general public became a challenge during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey said.

The minister was responding to a query by BJP MP Mahesh Poddar in the Upper House over the disposal of biomedical waste during the coronavirus crisis in the country.

On being asked whether COVID-19 cases increased among individuals employed in garbage collection and disposal, the minister said the data is not maintained by the Centre.

Public Health being a State subject, information relating to increase in COVID-19 cases among individuals employed in garbage collection and disposal, due to mismanagement in disposal of bio-medical waste including PPE kit etc., is not centrally maintained, Mr. Choubey said. - PTI

4.30 pm | New Delhi

LS member N K Premachandran tests positive for coronavirus

Lok Sabha member and RSP leader N K Premachandran has tested positive for coronavirus, his office said on Sunday.

He has been admitted to AIIMS here.

The leader of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) from Kerala has been attending the current Lok Sabha session and was also actively participating in discussions. - PTI

4.15 pm | New Delhi

Govt. forms committees for inspection of COVID hospitals

The Centre has formed expert committees for inspection of government and other COVID facilities following directions of the Supreme Court, which took cognizance of shortcomings in the care of coronavirus patients in different hospitals in the country. The expert committees constituted by the Ministry of Health have been tasked to inspect, supervise and guide government and other hospitals dedicated to COVID-19, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey told the Rajya Sabha on Sunday.

The Ministry of Health has written to all the states and union territories with regard to prescribing reasonable rates for testing and treatment of COVID-19, Mr. Choubey said in a written reply.

He said the central government has issued an advisory to all states that dead bodies of suspected COVID patients be handed over to their relatives immediately without waiting for laboratory confirmation and the body be disposed of as per guidelines on dead body management issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. - PTI

4 pm | New Delhi

No data on number of plasma banks in country: Govt.

Convalescent plasma therapy has not been recommended by the Ministry of Health as a mainstay of COVID-19 therapy and there is no proposal under consideration to set up plasma banks, Rajya Sabha was informed.

In a written reply, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey said states have taken initiative to establish such banks to provide plasma therapy to COVID-19 patients but no central database of such banks is maintained.

He was responding to a question on the total number of plasma banks running at present to provide plasma therapy to the Corona/COVID-19 patients in the country state-wise and if the government proposes to set up more plasma banks to cope with disease in the country.

Convalescent Plasma therapy has been included in the Clinical Management Protocol for COVID-19 as an investigational therapy for use in a defined subgroup of patients only, Mr. Choubey underlined. - PTI

3.45 pm | Maharashtra

Senior Maha BJP leader Mungantiwar tests positive

Senior BJP leader and former Maharashtra minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Sunday tweeted that he had been detected with the novel coronavirus infection.

He said he had isolated himself after his reports came on Saturday evening and requested those who had come in contact with him over the past few days to get themselves tested for the infection.

The 58-year-old Ballarpur MLA was finance and forest minister in the previous Devendra Fadnavis government. - PTI

3.30 pm | New Delhi

India extends USD 250 million in financial support to Maldives to overcome impact of COVID-19

India has provided financial assistance of USD 250 million to the Maldives to help it mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian embassy here said on Sunday.

The grant, provided under the most favourable terms possible, was in response to the request made by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to overcome the difficult economic situation in the Maldives.

A handover ceremony was held on Sunday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Maldives to mark the occasion in the presence of Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid, Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer, High Commissioner Sunjay Sudhir and CEO, SBI, Male Bharat Mishra, the embassy said in a statement.

The financial assistance was announced first during a virtual meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and provided through a Treasury Bond sale to the State Bank of India (SBI), Male which has a tenure of 10 years for repayment, it said.

The India-Maldives partnership is unique and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted this. India will continue to stand by the people and Government of Maldives during these difficult times, the embassy said. - PTI

3.15 pm | New Delhi

Daily COVID-19 fatalities recorded in Delhi stood in range of 30-40 in last 5 days: Data

The number of deaths from COVID-19 recorded daily in the national capital has hovered in the range of 30-40 from September 15-19, during which daily fresh cases were reported in excess of 4,000 on all five days, according to official data.

In this five-day period, however, the number of tests conducted every day have seen record numbers, ranging between 60,000 and over 62,000.

COVID-19 cases have shown a surge since the beginning of this month with September 16 recording 4,473 cases, the highest single-day spike here till date. On that day, 33 fatalities were recorded, taking the death toll to 4839, according to official figures shared by the Delhi health department.

The daily cases and daily death counts recorded from September 15-19 stood at: 4263 (36 deaths); 4473 (33); 4432 (38); 4127 (30); and 4071 (38) respectively, according to official data.

Delhi recorded 4,071 fresh COVID-19 cases on Saturday, as the tally in the city mounted to over 2.42 lakh, while the death toll climbed to 4,945. - PTI

3 pm | Maharashtra

106-year-old woman wins battle against COVID-19

A 106-year-old woman from Maharashtra’s Thane district defeated COVID-19 and was discharged from hospital on Sunday with doctors and nurses giving her a warm farewell.

With happiness writ large on her face, the woman proudly displayed her discharge certificate to the media before walking out of the hospital after a 10-day stay.

After the Dombivli-based centenarian contracted the disease, no hospital was initially ready to admit her due to her age, said her daughter-in-la, who were happy to see her mother-in-law discharged from the hospital after recovering from the disease.

She was finally admitted 10 days back to the COVID-19 treatment facility set up by the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) at Savlaram Krida Sankul (sports complex) and doctors and medical teams there took proper care of her, the daughter-in-law said.

“We are really thankful to the hospital’s medical team who took proper care of her and helped her in defeating the coronavirus,” she said. - PTI

2.45 pm | New Delhi

Overall COVID-19 deaths per million population in India low compared to other countries: Govt.

The overall number of cases and deaths per million population due to COVID-19 in the country is low compared to similarly affected countries, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey told Rajya Sabha on Sunday.

Noting that there are no established pharmaceutical interventions that can break the chain of transmission, Mr. Choubey said non-pharmaceutical interventions such as hand and respiratory hygiene, wearing of mask/face cover, physical distancing measures, preventing large gatherings, etc are the only tools to suppress and break the chain of transmission.

This has to be in turn supported by heightened community awareness and behavioral change communication.

He was responding to a question on the reasons for spread of COVID-19 at an increased rate despite lower numbers at the initial stage in India as compared to other countries.

“COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease. Many of the epidemiological parameters such as agent-host interaction, socio-cultural and environmental factors, modes of transmission, susceptibility of individuals, immune response are still under research,” Mr. Choubey said in a written reply. - PTI

2.30 pm | New Delhi

No study conducted to assess impact of COVID-19 on mental health: Minister

The government has not conducted any study to assess the impact of coronavirus on the mental health of people though a number of initiatives have been taken to provide psychosocial support during the pandemic, the Rajya Sabha was told on Sunday.

“The government has not conducted any study to assess the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of the population. However, realizing the impact that COVID-19 may have on the mental health of the people, the government has taken a number of initiatives to provide psychosocial support during COVID-19,” Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey said in a written reply.

He was responding to a question on whether the government has taken cognisance of the mental health issues arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.


2.15 pm | New Delhi

Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network to track COVID-19 vaccine

The Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) system, which provides real-time information on vaccine stocks and storage temperatures across all cold chain points in the country, is being enhanced to address the needs for distribution and tracking of COVID-19 vaccine, whenever it becomes available, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Sunday.

A national expert group on COVID-19 vaccine has been constituted to guide the government on prioritisation of population groups for vaccination, selection of vaccine candidates, delivery mechanism of the vaccine, cold chain and associated infrastructure for roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination, etc. Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey said in a written reply.

The Minister also clarified that the government has not entered into any contract with foreign pharmaceutical company in this regard. Mr. Choubey was responding to a question on whether the government has formulated any road map to introduce vaccines for COVID-19 in the country in the immediate future.


2.10 pm | U.K.

Hefty fines for COVID-19 quarantine breaches in England

The U.K. government on Sunday announced new rules, which make it a legal requirement for people with coronavirus to quarantine, with fines of up to 10,000 pounds imposed on repeat breaches of the stipulated 14-day self-isolation period to control the spread of the virus.

Downing Street said the new requirements, which will be enforced from September 28, also come with support payments of 500 pounds for those on lower incomes who cannot work from home, such as construction workers, and stand to lose income as a result of the mandatory self-isolation.

The rules come in as Prime Minister Boris Johnson considers further tougher measures after he warned that the UK may now be seeing a second wave coming in of the deadly virus, with the number of cases continuing to rise.


2.00 pm | Madhya Pradesh

M.P. government to reimburse medical expenses of doctors of autonomous medical colleges

The Madhya Pradesh government will provide full reimbursement of medical expenses to doctors and staffers of government-administered autonomous medical colleges which are at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19.

This will benefit nearly 10,000 staffers and doctors of such institutions in the State, a public relations department official said on Sunday.

Till now, there was a provision for medical reimbursement of up to Rs. 3,000 for doctors, nurses, paramedics, technicians and other staff of such medical colleges. On the other hand, staffers of various government departments are entitled for full reimbursement of their medical bills under the Madhya Pradesh Civil Services Medical Care Rules, 1958, he said.

“This discrepancy has been removed now after officials and staff of government-administered autonomous medical colleges brought the issue to the notice of state Medical Education Minister Vishwas Sarang,” the official said.


1.50 pm | Maharashtra

Blessed to have overcome coronavirus, says Malaika Arora

Expressing her gratitude towards healthcare workers, actor-host Malaika Arora on Sunday said she has overcome coronavirus with “minimum pain and discomfort“. Arora also urged people to stay safe and take care in these difficult times.


1.45 pm | New Delhi

2.39 crore COVID tests conducted in India in August: Minister

India conducted 2.39 crore COVID-19 tests in August, of which 1.24 crore were done using rapid antigen kits, the government said on Sunday.

Till September 18, a total of 6,17,33,533 tests were conducted across the country, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey said in the Rajya Sabha.

He said 2,39,66,859 tests were conducted in August; 1,05, 32,288 in July; 49,93,422 in June; 29,37,284 in May; 8,64,517 in April and 33,330 in March.

“In March, only RT-PCR testing centres were available. Later, cartridge-based tests were approved by ICMR like Truenat, CBNAAT, Abbott and Roche. In the month of June, rapid antigen kits were approved by ICMR for testing,” the Minister said in a written reply.


1.30 pm | United Nations

Virtual edition of UN General Assembly to see record participation of world leaders: Guterres

The virtual edition of the United Nations General Assembly will see a record number of Heads of State and Government address the high-level week through pre-recorded video statements, UN chief Antonio Guterres has said.

This year, for the first time in the UN’s 75-year history, Heads of State and Government will not be travelling to New York for the General Assembly session due to the COVID-19 pandemic and have submitted pre-recorded video statements for the various summits and sessions that will be played in the iconic General Assembly hall.

The General Debate, that runs from September 22 to 29, will see 119 Heads of State and 54 Heads of Government speak through pre-recorded video statements in this year’s virtual format compared to previous in-person sessions when typically between 70 and 80 Heads of State participated in-person in the General Debate.


1.15 pm | Karnataka

Committee to study long term effects of COVID-19 constituted

The Karnataka government has decided to constitute a special technical committee to study the long term effects of COVID-19 among people who have recovered from the infection.

The move comes after several patients in the State have returned back to hospitals reporting various health conditions even after they have recovered from the COVID-19 infection.

K. Sudhakar, Medical Education and COVID-19 in-charge Minister said that the committee will consist of medical experts. In a tweet, Dr. Sudhakar said the government will evaluate patients based on whether they had mild or severe symptoms with special focus on people with co-morbidities. “The medical experts team will also develop new strategies for clinical care to improve long term health of all those who recovered from COVID-19,” his tweet said.

- Tanu Kulkarni

1.00 pm | New Delhi

Aiming for herd immunity without pharma interventions may have disastrous consequences: Choubey

Trying to develop herd immunity against COVID-19 in the absence of established pharmaceutical interventions may have disastrous consequences in terms of morbidity and mortality, Rajya Sabha was told.

Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey, in a written reply, said in the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries that thought of developing herd immunity through a natural process of allowing the disease transmission had very high morbidity and mortality and therefore, “had to abandon the strategy”.

The Minister was responding to a question on whether state governments are following herd immunity measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.


12.45 pm | UAE

Hope at least 25% crowds will be allowed when India tour Australia: Warner

Australia opener David Warner wants to see “at least 25% crowds” inside the stadiums when they host Virat Kohli’s India in a high-profile tour later this year, amid the pandemic.

Warner said he was looking forward to the big-ticket assignment against one of their biggest rivals.

“Well, I am looking forward to the tour which will be a great battle between two very highly competitive teams. And, I hope at least 25% crowds will be allowed as was the case with some football matches. That will be fantastic,” Warner said during a virtual media interaction.

Earlier this week, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said his government is negotiating with Cricket Australia and Tennis Australia to have crowd attendance for the city’s iconic sports events - Boxing Day Test and the Australian Open.


12.30 pm | Karnataka

Monsoon session of Karnataka legislature to begin tomorrow under COVID-19 shadow

An eight-day monsoon session of Karnataka legislature will begin on Monday under the shadow of COVID-19 pandemic, amid unprecedented safety measures and restrictions, as several Ministers and legislators have tested positive for the infection.

The session is likely to be stormy with the Opposition eyeing to corner the B.S. Yediyurappa-led BJP government on a host of issues, including management of the pandemic, which has affected over 5.11 lakh people in the state.

Principal opposition Congress has also decided to raise issues such as the D.J. Halli violence, drugs scandal, law and order situation and the state’s financial situation during the session, slated to end on September 30.


12.15 pm | New Delhi

TCS sets up 11 COVID-19 isolation centres for staff, their dependents

India’s largest software services firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has set up 11 first-line COVID-19 isolation centres within its premises in various cities in India, including Mumbai, Indore and Nagpur.

According to an email to employees, these centres will provide medical support to associates and their dependents (spouse, children and parents /parents-in-law) who are asymptomatic or mildly COVID-19 positive with no other co-morbidities or medical history/complications.

All the centres will have 24/7 medical cover, along with daily monitoring by trained professionals. The patients can even connect with a counsellor virtually during their treatment.


12.00 pm | New Delhi

India’s single-day recoveries surpass fresh cases as 94,612 people recuperate

India’s single-day recoveries surpassed the number of new infections for the second consecutive day on Sunday, with 94,612 people having recuperated from COVID-19, even as the total caseload sprinted past 54 lakh, according to the Union Health Ministry’s data.

A total of 94,612 people recovered from coronavirus in a span of 24 hours, taking the national recovery rate to 79.68 per cent, while 92,605 people tested positive for the disease during the period, taking the total COVID-19 cases to 54,00,619.

The death toll climbed to 86,752 with the virus claiming 1,133 lives in a span of 24 hours, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.

The total COVID-19 recoveries have surged to 43,03,043.

The COVID-19 case fatality rate was recorded at 1.61 per cent.


11.45 am | Japan

On holiday weekend, travel surges in Japan

Train stations and airports in Japan were filled with people over this Silver Week holiday weekend running through Tuesday, in a sign of recovering local travel amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The surge of domestic travel is a contrast to previous holidays, such as the summer Obon. Pressures were high for people living in urban congested areas not to visit families or play tourist in areas, where cases have been far fewer, with some regions having zero or a handful.

The daily new cases of coronavirus infections in Tokyo have recently fluctuated at around 200 people. Japan does not have widespread testing and so many cases are likely going undetected. Baseball games, stores and theatres are back open in recent weeks with social distancing, mask-wearing, hand sanitisers and temperature checks.


11.30 am | Karnataka

Symptomatic patients prime drivers of infection in State during lockdown: study

While both asymptomatic and symptomatic COVID-19 patients transmit infection, a study by a team of experts from Karnataka has found that the main driving force behind the spread in the State during the lockdown were symptomatic people.

The team of experts led by V. Ravi, senior professor and Head of Neuro Virology at NIMHANS, who is also part of the State’s COVID-19 task force, studied 3,404 cases reported from March 8 (when the first case was detected) to May 31.

Of these, while 3,096 (91%) were asymptomatic, 308 (9%) were symptomatic.

“As per our analysis, on an average, each symptomatic patient has spread the infection to 7.1 individuals as against every asymptomatic patient who spread the infection to 3.1 individuals. While 90 symptomatic source cases transmitted infection to 645 people, 54 asymptomatic source cases transmitted infection to 177 people,” Dr. Ravi told  The Hindu . “Symptomatic patients can spread the infection to a large number of people because when they cough and sneeze they throw out higher viral particles,” he added.

11.15 am | Goa

South Goa district hospital commissioned as COVID-19 facility

The South Goa district hospital has been commissioned has a COVID-19 treatment facility with an initial capacity of 150 beds, State Health Minister Vishwajit Rane has said.

Till now, COVID-19 patients in the State were being treated at the ESI Hospital in Margao (South Goa), the Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) near Panaji (North Goa) and the Sub-District Hospital in Ponda (South Goa).

The new facility at Margao in South Goa has been set up in the wake of the rising number of coronavirus cases in the coastal State.

Mr. Rane said the government has recruited 70 people for handling patients at the facility, where HFNO (high flow nasal oxygen) machines and ventilators have been installed "with an aim to make it a high dependence unit".


11.00 am | New Delhi

Chalk out a plan to reduce virus cases in containment zones: L-G

Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal directed authorities to chalk out a strategy to reduce COVID-19 cases to non-existent levels in containment zones across the Capital.

Sources said expert groups and the Delhi Health Department have been tasked with preparing reports to this end over the weekend. They are scheduled to meet early next week to figure out strategies to reduce the number of cases being reported from containment zones, which account for roughly around 40% of the total daily COVID-19 cases in the city, to ‘zero’.

This will be followed by a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), sources added.

10.45 am | Kerala

Robot nurses to care for patients at Nattika COVID-19 centre

Robot nurses will attend to COVID-19 patients at the COVID First Line Treatment Centre (CFLTC), Nattika, the biggest such centre in Kerala with 1,400 beds.

The Government Engineering College, Thrissur, has deployed six robot nurses at the centre. The college has also developed an e-bike for food distribution and a patient management software for the centre.

“The automatic robot nurse is an implementation of the industrial line follower robot. This robot is capable of taking health values like temperature, pressure and oxygen levels of patients. Such robots with automated controls and minimum human assistance can cover a large number of patients in a single stretch. The robot can work in three shifts to monitor patients. It can cover about 250 patients in a shift. The doctors can communicate with patients using the telemedicine feature implemented in it,” explained Dr. Ajay James, mentor of the team of young engineers that developed the robot.


10.30 am | Tamil Nadu

Activists unleash a ‘dragon’ to drive home message of safety

Enter the dragon:  Children taking a selfie with the 'dragon' at  T.P. Chatram in Chennai on Saturday.

Enter the dragon: Children taking a selfie with the 'dragon' at T.P. Chatram in Chennai on Saturday.


After warnings from Greater Chennai Corporation officials and the Chennai police fell on deaf ears, it was the turn of a 15-ft Chinese ‘dragon’ to warn residents of slum tenements in T.P. Chatram to wear masks on Saturday afternoon.

The orange dragon, with bloody eyes, sharp horns and menacing teeth, carried by volunteers of the Goodwill NGO, charged at people not wearing masks, and seeing it advance towards them, people took cover.

“It was an attempt to create awareness about the dangers of not wearing masks. Accompanied by music, the volunteers carried the dragon through the lanes of Naalu Aduku Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB), Jothi Ammal Nagar, Telugu Lane, T.P. Chatram and V.S. Puram,” said S. Kalairasan, area engineer, division 102, Zone 8.

10.15 am | Nagaland

Nagaland apples: sowed by conflict, marketed during COVID-19

The unfamiliar apple travelled from Kashmir to Nagaland’s Thanamir via Assam Rifles soldiers during the peak of conflict in 1980, when the extremist National Socialist Council of Nagaland was born.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made Thanamir’s apples, sowed from the ‘fruits of friendship’ between a Gurkha soldier and a village guard, J. Yongphukhiung, travel out four decades later as a branded farm produce marketed by a local students’ union.

The Kashmir-origin apples grown organically added gloss to the village after the Thanamir Students’ Union (TSU) began organising a festival to attract officials, horticulture experts and adventurous visitors. “We could not organise the annual Apple Festival this year after eight editions due to the COVID-19 restrictions. This made us work on a project to market our apples to the nearest urban centres in an organised way,” TSU vice-president N. Lemchimong told  The Hindu.

This meant delivering the apples to Kohima and Dimapur in August-September. At a wholesale price of ₹1,000 a carton of 7 kg each, the apples sold out in no time.



10.00 am | New Delhi

DMRC sells over 80K smart cards

With the discontinuation of tokens in the Delhi Metro as part of precautionary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has sold around 8,500 smart cards per day between September 7 and 16.

Under Unlock 4 guidelines issued by the Centre, metro services got the nod to resume operations from September 7 after a five-month hiatus. The DMRC had said that tokens had been discontinued to curb chances of virus transmission and had made the use of smart cards mandatory.

The public transporter had also launched a new version of smart cards having an auto top-up feature, while existing smart card users can get the feature activated.

9.45 am | France

French Economy Minister among 13K new infections

Coronavirus infections tipped the scales again in France on Saturday with nearly 13,500 new infections in 24 hours. Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire is among them.

He announced on Friday in a tweet that he had tested positive with no symptoms and was working during self-isolation. The high-profile Le Maire is the fourth French minister to test positive since March.

It was the second day in a row that new COVID-19 cases in France were above 13,000.

- AP

9.30 am | West Bengal

W.B. adds 3,188 COVID-19 cases, infections cross 2.20 lakh

West Bengal on Saturday recorded 3,188 COVID-19 infections taking the number of cases to 2,21,960. It recorded 56 deaths in the past 24 hours taking the total to 4,298. The number of active cases stood at 24,648 and the discharge rate at 86.96%.

Kolkata and the North 24 Parganas, two worst-affected regions, recorded 15 deaths each. The toll in Kolkata climbed to 1,566 and in the North 24 Parganas to 965.

9.15 am | Australia

Melbourne records fewer cases, moves closer to easing severe restrictions

Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, has moved close to easing severe lockdown restrictions after recording only 14 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday.

It was the second day in a row new infections fell below 30, after 21 were reported on Saturday, the lowest daily number since June 19. There were also five deaths recorded Sunday.

Melbourne’s lockdown restrictions are due to be eased next weekend when child care centers will be allowed to reopen and gatherings of up to five people from two different households will be permitted. But that depends on the rolling 14-day average of new cases being below 50. With the lower numbers this weekend, the rolling average is now 36.2.

- AP

9.00 am | Punjab

Punjab to open higher education institutions from September 21

The Punjab government on Saturday allowed the opening of higher education institutions for Ph.D scholars and post-graduate students of technical and professional programmes requiring laboratories and experimental works from September 21.

However, schools, colleges and coaching centres will remain closed. The orders were issued in compliance with the directives of Unlock 4.0 issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

According to the guidelines issued by the Special Chief Secretary (Home), Satish Chandra, open air theatres will be allowed to function with strict adherence to social distancing norms. Cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres and similar places would continue to remain closed.


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