Coronavirus India lockdown Day 183 updates | September 25, 2020

Face forward: A vendor in Telangana’s Khammam sells washable masks.   | Photo Credit: G. N. Rao

With 83,432 COVID-19 cases recorded on Thursday, India’s tally stood at 58,13,861.

In the monsoon session of Parliament, 83 of the 1,500-odd employees of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat have tested positive for COVID 19 till Wednesday. Officials said that, before September 7, only about 25 employees were reported to have been infected. The number of positive cases has sharply increased during the eight-day period of the session.

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:

10.15 pm | Maharashtra

Maharashtra Deputy CM warns hospitals on overcharging COVID-19 patients

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday said stringent action will be taken against hospitals overcharging COVID-19 patients.

At a review meeting here, Pawar, who is guardian minister of Pune, asked local officials to implement the state government’s ‘my family, my responsibility’ anti-COVID-19 drive efficiently.

Mr. Pawar said the State government had already fixed rates for COVID-19 treatment.

He also promised action against those black marketing medicines during the outbreak.


9.15 pm | Mizoram

Mizoram records highest single-day COVID-19 recoveries

Mizoram on Friday reported the highest single day recovery of COVID-19 cases after 184 patients infected with the deadly virus were discharged from hospitals, an official said.

The recovery rate now stands at 72.18 per cent, he said.

Fourteen Assam Rifles personnel were among the 184 patients who were discharged from various facilities, the official said.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in the State is now 497.


9:00 p.m. | Pune

7% found positive in serological tests among CSIR-NCL staff, kin

A sero-positive rate of 7% was revealed in serological tests conducted by the CSIR- National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) among its staff and family members.

A serological test reveals if a person has developed antibodies to the coronavirus, a positive result indicating that he/she has already been exposed to the virus. “Among 339 participants, 18 men and six women were found to be sero-positive, which accounts for about 7% of total sample. These comprise 19 students, 3 contract staff and 2 family members,” an official said.

The study was part of a project led by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology. It was part of ‘Phenome India’, a long-term longitudinal observational cohort study of health outcomes, the CSIR-NCL said in its release. - PTI

8:30 pm | Maharashtra

Maharashtra's COVID-19 cases cross 13 lakh-mark

Recoveries outweighed Maharashtra’s case surge on Friday, with 19,592 patients being discharged as opposed to a rise of 17,794 new Covid-19 cases.

The State’s total case tally breached the 13 lakh-mark to reach 13,00,757 of whom 2,72,775 are active ones. The cumulative recoveries have risen to 9,73,214.

416 deaths pushed the total death toll to 34,761. Pune reported more than 3,500 cases to take its total case tally to 2,77,942 while 56 deaths saw its total death toll climb to 5,534. As per the Pune district administration, the number of active cases in the district has risen to nearly 43,000. Mumbai reported 2,163 cases to take its total case tally to 1,94,303 of whom 28,395 are active. 48 fatalities saw the city's death toll rise to 8,706.

8:00 pm | Bhubaneswar

Odisha Sports Minister Tusharkanti Behera tests positive

Odishas Sports and Youth Services Minister Tusharkanti Behera said that he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and urged all those who came in contact with him to get tested. Mr. Behera said that he has some symptoms and is in home isolation.

The Minister said that his health condition is stable at present. Deputy chairperson of the State Planning Board Sanjau Dasburma has also tested positive for COVID-19.

Mr. Behera is the ninth minister in Odisha to be infected by the coronavirus. - PTI

7.45 pm | Jammu  & Kashmir

Jammu & Kashmir reports 1,218 fresh COVID-19 cases, 21 deaths

As many as 1,218 fresh COVID-19 cases took Jammu and Kashmir’s infection tally to 69,832 on Friday, while 21 more fatalities pushed the death toll to 1,105, officials said. The Union Territory has reported more than 1,000 fresh cases for 23 consecutive days now.

“The UT recorded 1,218 fresh cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours - with 642 in Jammu and 576 in the Kashmir Valley,” the officials said.

"The cumulative figure of positive cases in Jammu and Kashmir has now risen to 69,832. Jammu district reported the highest number of fresh cases at 240, followed by 224 in Srinagar district," the officials said.

There are 19,170 active cases of coronavirus, while 49,557 patients have recovered so far, they said. Of the 21 deaths, 11 were reported from Jammu and 10 from Kashmir, the officials said. - PTI

7.15 pm | Kerala

Highest one-day spike of 6,477 COVID-19 cases in Kerala

Kerala recorded the highest one-day spike of 6,477 COVID-19 cases on Friday, taking the infection tally to 1,59,933.

Twenty two deaths took the toll to 635.

The State had on Thursday reported 6,324 cases and 21 deaths.

As the State government increased the sample testing in the last 24 hours to 56,057, the positive cases touched 6,477.

“Out of those infected today, 58 are from abroad, 198 are from other states and 5,418 got the disease from their contacts.

The sources of infection of 713 are yet to be confirmed.

Eighty health workers are among those infected,” Health Minister K.K. Shylaja said in a release.


7:00 pm | Brussels

EU Council president Charles Michel out of quarantine

European Council President Charles Michel has ended his self-quarantine after testing negative for COVID-19 for a second time this week.

Mr. Michel postponed a scheduled summit of European Union leaders scheduled for this week after his possible exposure to the coronavirus.

Spokesman Barend Leyts said that Mr. Michel is no longer in quarantine and continues preparing the special European Council of October 1 and 2. - PTI

6.45 pm | Uttar Pradesh

U.P. records 4,519 fresh COVID-19 cases, 84 deaths; State tally at 3,78,533

Uttar Pradesh reported 4,519 fresh coronavirus cases and 84 deaths on Friday, taking the infection tally to 3,78,533, officials said. The COVID-19 death toll mounted to 5,450 in the State, they said.

“As many as 4,519 fresh coronavirus cases were reported in the State in the past 24 hours. While 3,13,686 patients have so far been discharged, the number of active cases in the State stands at 59,397, Additional Chief Secretary, Medical and Health, Amit Mohan Prasad told reporters. The death toll due to the infection has risen to 5,450,” he said.

As per the data provided by the officer, the State’s infection rally stands at 3,78,533. For the past eight days, the number of fresh cases is less than the number of people discharged after treatment, Mr. Prasad said, adding that 6,075 persons were discharged in the past 24 hours. The State’s recovery rate is rising and currently stands at 82.86%, he said. Of the 59,397 active cases, 30,371 are under home isolation, he said.

The official said over 1.64 lakh samples were tested for COVID-19 on Thursday and since the pandemic outbreak, more than 93.10 lakh samples have been tested in the State. He said the R-value of the State is 0.91, which is below the national average.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Friday called for deployment of additional medical workers in Lucknow and Kanpur to further strengthen the medical facilities in these areas.

In a meeting with senior officials, the Chief Minister called for running the 300-bed hospital in RMLIMS in Lucknow as a dedicated COVID-19 hospital, a government press release said. The CM also directed the officials to ensure regular dialogue with COVID-19 patients in home isolation at the district level, it said. - PTI

6,15 pm | India

India’s healthcare effectively kept COVID mortality at ‘minimum’, recovery at ‘maximum’: Harsh Vardhan

More than 5 million people have been infected with coronavirus but the healthcare system of India has shown great efficiency in providing diagnostic and management facilities as well as keeping the mortality at ‘minimum’ and recovery at ‘maximum’, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Friday.

He was speaking at an event to mark the 65th Foundation Day of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.

He said the country’s continuously rising COVID-19 recovery rate and progressively falling case fatality rate have proven the success of the containment strategy followed by all states/UTs, the Health Ministry said in a statement.


6 pm| India

India’s COVID-19 recoveries close to 48 lakh

India’s total COVID-19 recoveries have surged to over 47.5 lakh with 10 states and union territories including Maharashtra, Delhi and West Bengal accounting for 73 per cent of the new recovered cases, the Union health ministry said on Friday.

A total of 81,177 patients have recuperated from COVID-19 in a span of 24 hours taking the total recoveries to 47,56,164 and pushing the recovery rate 81.74%.

Recovered cases have exceeded active cases (9,70,116) by nearly 38 lakh (37,86,048) as on date, the ministry highlighted.

“Spurred by this number of very high recoveries, the national recovery rate continues to follow a rising curve. It stands at 81.74 per cent as on date,” the ministry said.

It said that 73 per cent of the new recovered cases have been reported from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Delhi, Kerala, West Bengal and Assam.

Maharashtra continues to lead with more than 17,000 new recoveries. Andhra Pradesh contributed more than 8,000 to the single day recoveries.

5.45 pm | Maharashtra

’My family, my responsibility’ drive will make Maha fit: CM

The Maharashtra government’s ‘my family, my responsibility’ anti-COVID-19 drive will create a health map for the state and make its people fit, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Friday.

He was speaking at a review meeting held on the outbreak situation in Konkan and Pune regions, with officials from there taking part through video-conferencing.

The campaign aims to survey and screen households in the state to detect COVID-19 patients as well as those with other ailments.

Volunteers were compiling data of those who had been detected with the infection, those who had recovered and their post-coronavirus situation, Thackeray said.

“In Konkan, 10.63 lakh families have been surveyed. In Pune, they have surveyed 182 villages and 13 municipal councils,” the CM said. - PTI

5.30 pm | Maharashtra

Maha govt to issue circular for rational use of remdesivir

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Friday said the state government will issue circular within 24 hours to all doctors and COVID-19 hospitals for rational use of remdesivir injections in the treatment of coronavirus infection.

Apart from this, FDA minister Dr Rajendra Shingne said a special campaign will be launched against the black marketing of the anti-viral injection in the state.

The ministers were addressing the media after a review meeting on the COVID-19 situation in East Vidarbha.

Mr. Tope visited government hospitals in Bhandara, Gondia and Nagpur to take stock of the situation and steps taken by the administration.

When asked about excess use and shortage of remdesivir in COVID-19 hospitals, Mr. Tope said, “Rational use of the injection is important and it should not be administered as soon as a patient is admitted.”

Doctors and COVID-19 hospitals will be given directions on how to use remdesivir and a circular will be issued within 24 hours, he said. - PTI

5.15 pm | Madhya Pradesh

Parole extended for 3,900 MP jail inmates

Parole granted to 3900-odd inmates of Madhya Pradesh jails in view of the coronavirus outbreak has been extended by 60 days and they are now expected to be back in their cells only by November-end, a senior official said on Friday.

Parole was granted after the Supreme Court in March asked states to take steps to decongest jails so as to contain the spread of COVID-19 in these facilities.

The state has some 43,000 inmates in 125 jails, of which 3900-odd were given parole and 3000 were granted interim bail.

Parole was granted to 3900-odd inmates for sixty days which has now been extended by another 60 days, the fourth time in all, through a notification issued on Thursday by the state government, Deputy Deputy Inspector General of Prisons Sanjay Pandey said.  - PTI

5 pm | Arunachal Pradesh

84 constables test positive for COVID-19 while undergoing training in Arunachal

Eighty-four newly-recruited constables undergoing training at the Police Training Centre in Banderdwa in Arunachal Pradesh have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past three days, officials said on Friday.

The recruits who have tested positive are all male and belong to the D, E and F companies of the state police, superintendent of police (SIT) Hemant Tiwari said.

They were living in separate barracks, he said.

The recruits arrived at the training centre between September 10 and 13 from their respective districts, after which they underwent isolation until September 20, the officer said.

They had undergone rapid antigen tests in their respective districts and after being found negative they were sent to the training centre on police vehicles,” he said. - PTI

4.30 pm | New Delhi

Condition of Delhi Dy CM Sisodia better now: Official

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. File

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. File   | Photo Credit: PTI


The condition of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who is battling a double infection of COVID-19 and dengue, is better now, an official from his office said on Friday.

Mr. Sisodia is undergoing treatment at Max Hospital, Saket, where he was moved on Thursday evening from the Delhi government-run LNJP Hospital due to his “falling” blood platelet count and low oxygen level.

He is admitted to the ICU of the private hospital in south Delhi.

“His condition is better now,” said an official from the deputy Chief Minister’s office.

Mr. Sisodia had tested positive for COVID-19 on September 14 and was under home isolation. He was admitted to LNJP Hospital on Wednesday for treatment, and tested positive for dengue a day later. - PTI

4.15 pm | New Delhi

Ensure symptomatic antigen negative patients are retested using RT-PCR method: Delhi govt.

The Delhi government has asked all districts to retest all symptomatic patients, who have tested negative for COVID-19 on rapid antigen test, using the more reliable RT-PCR method, after it found the process was not followed in over 1,400 cases.

“Total 1,437 antigen negative symptomatic who have not undergone RT-PCR. Kindly ensure that this is made NIL from today i.e. from today onwards there should be no antigen negative symptomatic case who is not tested for RT-PCR,” read a directive by Special Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) Udit Prakash Rai to all districts.

The directive was issued on Thursday.

According to the government, Northwest district had the maximum 870 cases where symptomatic antigen negatives were not followed up with an RT-PCR test by Wednesday. In Southwest district, 258 symptomatic persons were not tested using the RT-PCR method after testing negative in rapid antigen tests. - PTI

4 pm | New Delhi

COVID-19, dengue double infection treatment complicated; needs balanced approach: Experts

There is “no standard protocol” for treatment of patients who have contracted a double infection of COVID-19 and dengue, and a very “finely balanced” approach is needed to tackle both the ailments at once, experts said.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was shifted to LNJP Hospital on Wednesday for COVID-19 treatment and tested positive for dengue a day later. On Thursday evening, the 48-year-old AAP leader was shifted to the ICU of Max Hospital Saket here. He had tested positive for COVID-19 on September 14 and is perhaps the first prominent personality in the city to have been diagnosed with both infections.

Medical Director of Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital (RGSSH) B L Sherwal said both the diseases have no specific treatment, which makes it even difficult for treating doctors of such patients.

“Both COVID-19 and dengue need symptomatic treatment and in some aspects the treatment is kind of contradictory and thus tricky. In COVID-19, we inject heparin drug subcutaneously which ultimately reaches the blood stream, and this is done to prevent embolism in these patients which can prove fatal,” he said.

Embolism is sudden blocking of an artery which can obstruct flow of oxygen, and that is why some patients get complications even after treatment, the doctor said. - PTI

3.30 pm | New Delhi

Ayush Ministry to take up clinical study on potential of Vasa, Guduchi for management of COVID-19

The Ministry of AYUSH has approved a proposal for carrying out a clinical study to assess the role of Vasa and Guduchi in therapeutic management of symptoms in COVID-19 positive patients. This will be a randomized, open label three armed study, and will be conducted at the All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), New Delhi, in collaboration with the IGIB unit of CSIR, the ministry said.

In view of the need for accelerated solutions for COVID-19, the Ministry of AYUSH has taken up systematic studies on different possible solutions through multiple channels.

“As part of this effort, a proposal for a clinical study to assess the role of Vasa Ghana, Guduchi Ghana and Vasa-Guduchi Ghana in therapeutic management of symptoms in COVID-19 positive cases has recently been approved,” the Ministry said in a statement. - PTI

3 pm | New Delhi

SC dismisses plea for direction to authorities not to identify persons based on religion with regard to virus

The Supreme Court Friday dismissed a plea seeking directions to the Centre, Delhi government and others not to identify persons based on religion, caste, community and religious identity with regard to COVID-19 related information.

A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan refused to entertain the plea which had sought directions to the authorities concerned to stop the dissemination of information of coronavirus or other epidemic disease on the basis of religion, caste, community, religious identity or communal classification.

The plea, filed by two Delhi-based residents, also sought directions to the authorities to identify persons, organisations, websites and media houses who have either authored, shared and aided in circulation of such information.

It said the authorities should immediately block such websites and remove the offending materials on the Internet and take action under the Information Technology Act against those who are spreading communal hatred, creating problem for public order.

The plea referred to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation here in March this year and said the incident had made national headline and certain section of media, instead of exercising restraint, reported it with “communal colour”. - PTI

2.30 pm | Russia

Moscow asks elderly to stay home amid new surge

Moscow authorities have issued a recommendation for the elderly to stay at home and for employers to allow as many people as possible to work remotely, following a rapid growth of coronavirus cases in the Russian capital.

On Friday, health officials reported 7,212 new cases, the highest daily surge since June. In Moscow, the number of new daily infections started to grow last week and was up to over 1,500 on Friday from under 700 two weeks ago.

None of us want to return to severe restrictions (that were in place) this spring. I hope we can avoid that, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote in his blog. - AP

2.00 pm | USA

Some severe COVID-19 cases may be due to faulty genes, misguided antibodies: study

More than 10% of young and healthy people who develop severe COVID-19 have misguided antibodies that attack not the virus, but the immune system itself, and another 3.5% may carry a specific kind of genetic mutation, according to a new study.

The research, published in the journal Science, noted that both groups of patients lack type I interferon - a set of 17 proteins crucial for protecting cells and the body from viruses.

These proteins, according to the researchers from the Rockefeller University in the U.S., are part of the intrinsic and innate immunity, kicking in before the body produces an antibody response, and are known to play an important role in immediately heightening the cells’ defences in response to several viruses.


1.45 pm | Tamil Nadu

Singer S.P. Balasubrahmanyam no more

Legendary playback singer S.P. Balasubrahmanyam passed away at a private hospital in Chennai on Friday. He was 74.

Balasubrahmanyam was hospitalised in August at MGM Healthcare after testing positive for COVID-19, and while he reportedly did well initially, he took a turn for the worse, and was put on a ventilator and ECMO support.

On September 7, he tested negative for COVID-19 but continued to be on the ventilator and ECMO even as he participated in passive physiotherapy.

Popularly known as SPB, Balasubrahmanyam made his singing debut in 1966 with Telugu movie Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna. He has sung over 40,000 songs in as many as 16 languages including Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, and Hindi.

Read more

1.30 pm | France

France’s virus rebound: Marseille fights against closures

Angry restaurant and bar owners are demonstrating in Marseille to challenge a French government order to close all public venues as of Saturday to battle resurgent virus infections.

The protesters, and local officials in France’s second-biggest city, are also threatening legal action, to try to block the order via the courts. They argue that Marseille’s virus case rise has been stabilising, and that the central government in Paris is unfairly singling out Marseille for the toughest virus measures in the nation.

The government argues that hospitals in this Mediterranean city are under strain and the closures are the only way to stem the spread while avoiding new lockdowns. The French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe is under similar orders.

- AP

1.20 pm | Maharashtra

Lecturer turns farm labourer to support family

Till March, Navnath Gore was a lecturer in a college in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. But, the COVID-19-induced lockdown took away his contract job and he took to working on a farm.

Mr. Gore, 32, a resident of a small village, Nigdi, in Jat tehsil of Sangli district, is the recipient of Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar in 2018, an award he won for his maiden novel Fesati. But this accomplishment is hardly a consolation for a man who has fallen on hard times due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Mr. Gore, a post-graduate in Marathi from the Shivaji University in Kolhapur district, now earns a meagre income of Rs. 400 per day.


1.15 pm | New Delhi

Nearly seven crore COVID-19 tests conducted in India

A record 14,92,409 tests have been conducted for detection of COVID-19 in a span of 24 hours, taking the total tests done so far in the country to nearly 7 crore, while the national cumulative positivity rate stands at 8.44 per cent, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday. The Tests Per Million (TPM) stand at 49,948 as of today, it said.

This exponential surge in the daily testing capacities strongly demonstrates the determined escalation of the testing infrastructure in the country, the ministry said.

“Evidence has revealed that higher numbers of testing subsequently leads to lowered positivity rate. States that are testing the highest numbers are also reporting a gradual decline in the positivity rate,” the ministry said.


1.00 pm | Australia

Australia postpones Test against Afghanistan, ODIs against New Zealand

Cricket Australia on Friday postponed a one-off Test against Afghanistan and an ODI series against New Zealand, citing complexity of scheduling international matches during the global coronavirus pandemic.

Australia was to host Afghanistan later this year at Perth in November while the Kiwis were to arrive in January 2021 but both the assignments have been postponed to the next summer (2021-22).

The COVID-19 pandemic had also forced a postponement of the T20 World Cup that Australia was to host this year.


12.55 pm | New Delhi

Bihar Assembly polls to be held under new security protocols amid pandemic

Bihar assembly polls will be one of the biggest elections globally to be held during prevailing COVID-19 situation, the Election Commission said. COVID-19 pandemic has forced a new normal in all aspects of life, it said, adding Bihar polls will be held under new security protocols.

For the first time, the Commission is extending postal ballot facility to people aged over 85 years, as well as to COVID-19 suspects and patients. Persons with disabilities and COVID suspects can avail postal ballots. The COVID-19 patients can cast their votes at the last hour of polling.

Each polling station will have only 1000 voters. The number of polling stations will now be more that one lakh, CEC Sunil Arora said.

The election will be held in three phases — Oct. 28, Nov 3 and 7 — while the counting of votes will be on November 10.


12.45 pm | New Delhi

SC refuses to entertain plea for deferment of Bihar Assembly polls

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea seeking to postpone the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A three-judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and M R Shah also refused to grant liberty to the petitioner to give representation to the Election Commission in this regard.

“We can’t permit everybody to go to the Election Commission. We can only permit you to withdraw the petition,” the bench said. The matter was then dismissed as withdrawn.

The EC is set to announce the schedule for Bihar assembly elections on Friday.

Read more

12.30 pm | Mizoram

BJP MLA in Mizoram asks govt. to refer him to hospital outside State for COVID-19 test after conflicting results

Lone BJP MLA in Mizoram Dr. B.D. Chakma asked the State government to refer him to a hospital outside the State for COVID-19 testing after his sample tested positive despite him being asymptomatic for more than a week.

Mr. Chakma wrote to Mizoram Health minister Dr. R. Lalthangliana and Health and Family Welfare board vice chairman Dr. Z.R. Thiamsanga urging them to refer him to either Kolkata or Guwahati to cross check his swab samples after the attending doctor informed him that he tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.

Mr. Chakma had first tested positive for COVID-19 on September 13 and was initially under observation at Zoram Medical College (ZMC), the only dedicated COVID-19 hospital in the State located about 16 km from Aizawl.

He was discharged from ZMC on September 17 to be under home isolation at MLA hostel, a designated COVID-19 care centre at Aizawl’s Khatla locality.


12.15 pm | Assam

Nehru’s policies, Ayodhya dispute and Gujarat riots out of Assam Class 12 syllabus

The Assam government has excluded lessons on Jawaharlal Nehru’s policies, Ayodhya dispute and the Gujarat riots among others from the Class 12 syllabus of the state examination board to ease burden on students.

The chapters were deleted by the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC) to reduce the load by 30 % on account of loss of academic schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Topics have been cut short in all the subjects of the three streams- Science, Arts and Commerce.

“The main objective is to reduce the exam stress of the students of the session 2020-21, due to this pandemic situation and to prevent learning gaps. This syllabi is only the reduced portion for the preparation of upcoming final exams of Higher Secondary 1st and 2nd year to be held in 2021,” AHSCE Secretary Manoranjan Kakati said in the report uploaded recently.

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12.00 pm | New Delhi

Education post COVID-19: UNESCO to convene special session of global education meeting next month

The UNESCO will convene an extraordinary session of Global Education Meeting (GEM) next month for exchange among high-level political leaders, policy makers and global education experts to protect and rethink education in the current and post-COVID-19 world.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s session on October 22 is convened with an aim to protect and promote education at a time when education financing is at considerable risk of being left behind in the governments’ domestic budgets, stimulus packages and international aid, the UN agency said.

“By convening this extraordinary session of the GEM next month, our aim is to secure commitments from political leaders to position education at the centre of national and international efforts to recover swiftly, inclusively and sustainably from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director of Education at UNESCO.


11.45 am | Kolkata

Bengal Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari tests positive: official

West Bengal Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari has tested positive for COVID-19 and is under home isolation, a health official said on Friday.

The Minister’s mother has also contracted the disease, he said.

The 49-year-old legislator from Nandigram in Purba Medinipur district has isolated himself at a guest house in his constituency, while his mother has been admitted to a Kolkata-based hospital, the official said.

Ministers Sujit Bose, Jyotipriyo Mullick and Swapan Debnath had earlier tested positive for the infection and have recovered.


11.30 am | New Delhi

COVID-19 tally in India crosses 58-lakh mark

India’s COVID-19 caseload zoomed past 58 lakh, while over 47 lakh people have recuperated from the disease, pushing the national recovery rate to 81.74%, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday.

The total coronavirus cases mounted to 58,18,570 with 86,052 infections being reported in a day. The death toll climbed to 92,290 with 1,141 people succumbing to the disease in a span of 24 hours, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.

The total recoveries have surged to 47,56,164.

The COVID-19 case fatality rate due to the coronavirus infection was recorded at 1.59%.


11.15 am | Tamil Nadu

Govt. relief cushioned COVID-19 lockdown, fishing ban restrictions in T.N.: official

The impact of the lockdown enforced to prevent the spread of coronavirus and local restrictions on fishing were to some extent cushioned by Tamil Nadu government’s relief measures, efforts of fishery organisations, and individual vessel owners.

Around Rs. 96 crore was extended as relief to 4.8 lakh members through the Tamil Nadu Fishermen Welfare Board, which gave away Rs. 2,000 per head for two months of the lockdown period for fishermen, fisherwomen, allied workers and crew members, a senior official in the fisheries department said. An additional breeding season allowance of Rs. 5,000 was given to each family for the period.

This sum was disbursed to about 1.6 lakh families, the senior official, who did not want to be named, told PTI.


11.00 am | New Delhi

Delhi Prisons DG tests positive

Director General of Delhi Prisons Sandeep Goel has tested positive for COVID-19, jail officials said on Friday.

According to a data shared by the prison authorities on September 13, the number of active COVID-19 cases in Delhi Prisons stood at 25, including 20 jail staff.

This came less than a month after the Delhi Prisons Department declared there was no active COVID-19 case among the inmates in its three jail complexes.

Earlier, on August 21, the Delhi Prisons Department had stated that none of the inmates in the three jail complexes of Tihar, Rohini and Mandoli are coronavirus positive and that the pandemic situation in jails here has improved.


10.45 am | Singapore

As foreigners depart, Singapore sees population drop for first time since 2003

Singapore's population has shrunk for the first time since 2003 as travel curbs and job losses brought about by the coronavirus pandemic have pushed foreign workers from the global business hub.

The overall population dropped by about 18,000 people, or 0.3%, to 5.69 million, according to an annual population report.

A sharp drop in foreigners, down 2% to 1.64 million, as well as a marginal fall in permanent residents, outweighed a modest rise in citizens, some of whom returned from overseas as the pandemic spread globally.

“These trends were largely due to COVID-19 related challenges, brought about by weak demand and travel restrictions,” the report said, citing job losses in services, a sector heavily reliant on low-paid foreign labour.

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10.30 am | USA

U.S. coronavirus cases surpass 7 million as Midwest outbreak flares up

The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States topped 7 million on Thursday — more than 20% of the world's total — as Midwest states reported spikes in COVID-19 infections in September, according to a Reuters tally.

The latest milestone comes just days after the nation surpassed over 200,000 COVID-19 deaths, the world's highest death toll from the virus. Each day, over 700 people die in the United States from COVID-19.

California leads the country with over 800,000 total cases, followed by Texas, Florida and New York.

Read more

10.15 am | Brazil

Virus delays Rio's Carnival for first time in a century

Rio de Janeiro delayed its annual Carnival parade, saying Thursday night that the global spectacle cannot go ahead in February because of Brazil’s continued vulnerability to the pandemic.

Rio’s League of Samba Schools, LIESA, announced that the spread of the coronavirus has made it impossible to safely hold the traditional parades that are a cultural mainstay and, for many, a source of livelihood.

“Carnival is a party upon which many humble workers depend. The samba schools are community institutions, and the parades are just one detail of all that,” said Luiz Antonio Simas, a historian who specialises in Rio’s Carnival. “An entire cultural and productive chain was disrupted by COVID.”

Rio’s City Hall has yet to announce a decision about the Carnival street parties that also take place across the city. But its tourism promotion agency said in a statement on September 17 that without a coronavirus vaccine, it is uncertain when large public events can resume.

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10.00 am | China

Chinese company says coronavirus vaccine ready by early 2021

A Chinese pharmaceutical company said on Thursday the coronavirus vaccine it is developing should be ready by early 2021 for distribution worldwide, including the United States.

Yin Weidong, the CEO of SinoVac, vowed to apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell CoronaVac in the United States if it passes its third and final round of testing in humans. Mr. Yin said he personally has been given the experimental vaccine.

“At the very beginning, our strategy was designed for China and for Wuhan. Soon after that in June and July we adjusted our strategy, that is to face the world,” Mr. Yin said, referring to the Chinese city were the virus first emerged.

“Our goal is to provide the vaccine to the world including the U.S., EU and others,” Mr. Yin said.

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9.45 am | Maharashtra

‘Missing’ patient from Pune’s jumbo facility sparks protest

The mystery of a ‘missing’ 33-year-old female patient from the newly-operational jumbo COVID-19 facility in the city’s College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP) grounds has sparked outrage among social outfits and activists.

The patient, who had first tested positive on August 28 and had been admitted to the jumbo facility in the early morning of August 30, has not returned home since. Neither the staff at the facility nor the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) administration have the slightest clue of her ‘disappearance’.

The woman had first gone to the COVID-19 facility in the city’s Balewadi but was referred to the Sassoon General Hospital as the former was full. As the latter hospital, too, was full to capacity, she was admitted to the CoEP facility on August 30.

Two weeks later, when the patient’s mother, Ragini Gambire, visited the jumbo facility to collect her daughter, she was faced with an array of bewildering answers regarding her daughter’s presence in the facility.

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9.30 am | Tamil Nadu

Chennai Corporation removes all containment zones

At one point of time, there were more than 1,000 containment zones in the city. The number fell to less than 10 last week.

The Greater Chennai Corporation has removed all COVID-19 containment zones in its 15 zones, although there was a spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases on Thursday. City Health Officer Jagadeesan said the city did not have any street with more than three index cases. “So, we have not earmarked containment zones,” said Dr. Jagadeesan.

A street is barricaded in the event of three index cases and if officials are unable to trace contacts that caused the infection.

On Thursday, the city reported no containment zones. But the number of COVID-19 cases increased by 1,089. The number of new cases had been below the 1,000 mark in the last 21 days.

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9.15 am | New Delhi

Refund policy not for flights originating from abroad: DGCA, Ministry in SC

The Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) clarified in the Supreme Court on Thursday that their refund and credit shell policy for flights cancelled during the lockdown did not cover international flights originating from abroad.

“The regulatory mechanism does not cover international flights which originate from any foreign destination... These flights are governed by the regulatory mechanism of the country of origin, irrespective of the fact whether the carrier is Indian or not... Refund of tickets/credit shells of international flights would be governed by the law of the sovereign country from where such flights originate,” the affidavit filed jointly for DGCA and the Ministry said.

The Ministry was replying to questions raised by the airlines and the petitioner, Pravasi Legal Cell, represented by senior advocate Sanjay Hegde and advocate Jose Abraham. The case is scheduled to be heard on September 25.

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9.00 am | Tripura

Schools in Tripura to reopen on October 5

The Tripura government has allowed schools to function from October 5 with strict adherence to the norms issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in view of the pandemic.

The State’s education department officials said on Thursday that government and private schools will reopen with 50% teaching staff. The school management would prepare a roster to ensure attendance of 50% teachers on an alternate-day basis, they added.

The percentage of students has not been specified for attendance, but those who want to attend will have to carry written permission from their parents, the officials stated.

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8.30 am | United Kingdom

Novavax starts late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trial in U.K.

Novavax Inc on Thursday started a late-stage trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with the UK government's Vaccines Taskforce, sending the company's shares up 6% after the bell.

The trial is expected to enroll and test the vaccine in up to 10,000 participants aged between 18 and 84 years over the next four to six weeks. The trial will enroll at least 25% of participants over the age of 65 and prioritize groups most affected by the COVID-19, the company said.

Data from the trial will support regulatory submissions for license in the U.K., EU and other countries, the company said.

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8.00 am | France

French Open to allow just 1,000 people a day at Roland Garros

A maximum of only 1,000 people will be allowed each day at Roland Garros after the French government insisted Thursday on tougher restrictions to counter the resurgence of the coronavirus.

Organisers of the French Open, which gets underway four months later than planned in Paris on Sunday, had hoped for a maximum of 5,000. That figure had already been reduced from 20,000 and then 11,500.

The decision by the French government will be a huge blow to Roland Garros which last year attracted on average around 37,000 fans a day.

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