Coronavirus India lockdown Day 210 updates | October 22, 2020

A doctor uses a thermal-screening device on a police officer in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.   | Photo Credit: K. K. Mustafah

India has seen a single-day rise of 55,839 infections and 702 fatalities, pushing the country's COVID-19 caseload to 77,06,946 and death toll to 1,16,616, according to Health Ministry data.

With this, India’s active COVID-19 caseload stands at 7,15,812, while 68,74,518 people have recovered from disease so far.

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:

New Delhi

IAVI, Merck KGaA, Serum Institute join hands to develop monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19

Non-profit scientific research organisation IAVI, vaccine major Serum Institute of India and global science and technology firm Merck KGaA have entered into an agreement to develop monoclonal antibodies to fight COVID-19 and to ensure their prompt and equitable global access.

The agreement is “to develop SARS-CoV-2 neutralising monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) co-invented by IAVI and Scripps Research as innovative interventions to address the COVID-19 pandemic”, the partners said in a statement on Thursday.


New Delhi

Opposition takes on BJP over free vaccine promise in Bihar

Opposition leaders across the political spectrum on Thursday took on the BJP after the party promised to provide free COVID-19 vaccine to the people of Bihar, and accused the party of trying to ‘politicise’ a public health issue that affects every State equally.

Several leaders also asking the Election Commission (EC) to take suo moto cognisance of the issue.

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West Bengal

Correctional homes in Bengal organising Durga Pujas in strict adherence to COVID protocols

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, authorities of all correctional homes in West Bengal have taken a series of precautionary measures and formulated a standard operating procedure to organise Durga Pujas in jails, an official said on Thursday.

The authorities have bought idols this year, instead of their regular practice of making them in correctional homes, to avoid gatherings of inmates there, he said.

“The SOP has made wearing of masks, maintaining physical distancing norms and sanitisation mandatory during the pujas. The guidelines have been sent to all the correctional homes in the state.

Senior officers have been asked to monitor that the norms are followed by all the inmates as well as staffers posted there,” the official said.

Durga Pujas are organised in almost all the 60 correctional homes in West Bengal. - PTI


Aurobindo Pharma pact: CCMB developing proof of concept for COVID-19 vaccine

The CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad has set in motion the process for development of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate as part of a pact with Aurobindo Pharma, a top official of the premier institute said on Thursday.

It was in the process of developing a proof of concept for the vaccine candidate using three platforms and this may take four to five months, CCMB Director Rakesh K Mishra said.

“We are working on some new platforms for vaccine and once we have the proof of concept ready, then we will hand it over to Aurobindo Pharma for further (process). This is something we have discussed with them. We dont want to work on vaccine unless there is an industry partner, Mr. Mishra told PTI.

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Aurobindo Pharma Limited last month announced the collaboration to develop a vaccine to protect against SARS- CoV-2. Three CSIR labs - CCMB-Hyderabad, the Institute of Medical Technology (IMTECH) in Chandigarh and the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB) in Kolkata - are developing vaccine candidates using different technology platforms.

Aurobindo will undertake clinical development and commercialisation of the vaccine, a press release from the CCMB had said last month. - PTI

New Delhi

Government relaxes export norms for nitrile gloves

The government on Thursday eased export norms for nitrile or nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) gloves, used by medical professionals, a move aimed at promoting shipments of the protective equipment. Export of these gloves were banned in the country in view of domestic requirements in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.

“The export policy of nitrile/NBR gloves revised from prohibited to restricted category,” the directorate general of foreign trade (DGFT) said in a notification.

For products under a restricted category, an exporter would need a licence or permission from the government for exports. - PTI

Tamil Nadu

COVID-19 vaccine will be provided free in Tamil Nadu, says Edappadi Palaniswami

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on October 22 said that the vaccine for COVID -19, when available, would be administered to all people of the State at government expense.

“People are apprehensive of contracting the virus. When a vaccine is available, it will be administered to all free of cost,” Mr. Palaniswami told reporters in Pudukkottai after chairing a meeting to review the measures taken to control COVID-19 and progress of development works in the district.

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COVID-19 deaths: U.K. to record ethnicity to assess impact on Indians, minorities

The U.K. government on October 22 laid out a series of measures as part of a review into the higher COVID-19 death rate among people of Indian-origin and other ethnic minorities, including a mandate for ethnicity to be recorded as part of the death certification process.

Minister for Equalities Kemi Badenoch made an oral statement in the House of Commons as she presented the first quarterly report to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock on progress to understand and tackle COVID-19 disparities on ethnicity grounds.

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Hrithik Roshan’s mother tests postive for COVID-19

Actor Hrithik Roshan’s mother, Pinkie Roshan, has tested positive for COVID-19, filmmaker-husband Rakesh Roshan said. There were reports that Pinkie Roshan, who turned 67 on Thursday, tested positive for the virus a week ago.

When contacted, Rakesh Roshan said that she is currently asymptomatic.

“Yes it’s true. There are no symptoms and she is doing home quarantine,” he said. — PTI

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U.K. scientific advisor says coronavirus unlikely to be eradicated

The coronavirus will be around for “evermore” as it is unlikely it will be eradicated, a British scientist on the government's advisory committee for the pandemic said on Wednesday, although a vaccine would help improve the situation.

Britain, like other countries in Europe, is currently in the grip of a resurgence in COVID-19 infections, with much of the country under local restrictions and more than 21,000 daily cases reported on Tuesday.

“We are going to have to live with this virus for evermore. There is very little chance that it's going to become eradicated,” John Edmunds, a member of Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), told lawmakers. — Reuters

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Bihar deputy CM tests positive for COVID-19

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Thursday said that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and was undergoing treatment, while also asserting that his parameters were fine and he was looking forward to hitting the campaign trail soon in the poll-bound state.

“Tested positive for corona. All parameters normal.

Started with mild temperature (but) no temperature for last two days. Admitted to AIIMS, Patna for better monitoring. CT scan of lungs normal. Will be back soon for campaigning,” the deputy CM wrote on Twitter.

The tweet comes a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi enters the scene in the poll-bound state with back-to- back rallies in Sasaram, Gaya and Bhagalpur districts.

New Delhi

India’s active COVID-19 cases remain below 10% of total caseload

Active cases of COVID-19 in India have remained below 10 per cent of the total caseload for the last three days suggesting that only 1 in 10 cases are active coronavirus patients, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday.

The daily positivity rate has also been maintained at less than 5 per cent over the past three days.

“Registering another milestone, the daily positivity rate has also been maintained to less than 5 per cent over the past three days indicating that the spread of infection is being effectively contained through focussed strategies and actions of the Centre and the states and UTs,” the ministry said. - PTI

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Financial, physical health top stressors amid COVID-19: Study

Financial and physical health has emerged as the top stressor for Indians ahead of relationship and family amid the COVID-19, according to a survey.

Nine out of 10 Indians say financial health has a profound impact on their well-being, the survey by digital wealth management platform Scripbox revealed.

The survey on Wealth & Well-being’, aimed to understand investor behaviour and sentiment amid the coronavirus, was conducted ahead of World Savings Day celebrated on October 31.

New Delhi

MHA to restore most visas

It has been decided to permit all OCI and PIO card holders and all other foreign nationals intending to visit India for any purpose, except on a Tourist Visa to enter by air or water routes through authorized airports and seaport immigration check posts, MHA said in a statement

Under this graded relaxation, Government of India has also decided to restore with immediate effect all existing visas (except electronic visa, Tourist Visa and Medical Visa).  If the validity of such visas has expired, fresh visas of appropriate categories can be obtained from Indian Mission/Posts concerned.  Foreign nationals intending to visit India for medical treatment can apply for a Medical Visa including for their medical attendants. Therefore, this decision will enable foreign nationals to come to India for various purposes such as business, conferences, employment, studies, research, medical purposes etc.

This includes flights operated under Vande Bharat Mission, Air Transport Bubble arrangements or by any non scheduled commercial flights as allowed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation - Vijaita Singh


Kerala firm rolls out indigenous RT-PCR test kits

A Kerala-based company, TCM Ltd, has rolled out on a commercial scale ‘Covi-DetecT’, its brand of RT-PCR test kits based on technology developed by IIT Delhi.

TCM Ltd, which was a chemical company until recently, was among the six firms chosen by IIT Delhi to commercialise its technology. Announcing the development, Joseph Varghese, Managing Director of TCM Ltd, said that the company’s unit at Kinfra Biotechnology and Industrial Zone in Kochi has reached a capacity for 100 kits translating into 10,000 tests daily, which will be further augmented in a week’s time to roll out 500 kits (50,000 tests) per day.

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SOP issued for management of COVID-19 victims’ bodies

The Department of Local Self Government has published the standard operating procedure for proper management of the bodies of COVID-19 victims.

The guidelines were issued following the confusion among the local bodies concerned and the relatives of the dead over the performance of the last rites. The standard operating procedure has been formulated based on the guidelines prescribed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the management of the bodies of the victims and the precautions to be followed by the relatives and the municipal workers handling the bodies.

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Brother of COVID-19 victim files medical negligence complaint

After the brother of a deceased COVID-19 patient from Aluva filed a complaint with the Kalamassery police alleging medical negligence, a police inquiry has begun.

The police said that the complaint was of a similar nature to that filed two days ago by the family of C. K. Haris, another deceased patient from Palluruthy, and a simultaneous inquiry would be conducted in both cases.

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Policemen told to be cautious against COVID-19 while discharging duty

Police should continue to exercise precaution against COVID-19 and discharge their duty, said Inspector-General of Police (Western Range) Devajyoti Ray here on Wednesday.

Speaking at the Police Commemoration Day, Mr. Ray said that policemen have been the first responders to crisis, even during the COVID-19 outbreak. “Though it is (COVID-19) a health crisis, the police have been playing an important role (in the prevention and control of the pandemic),” he said.

The police personnel, he said, should continue with their work by wearing face masks and other precautions.

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Plasma therapy: Hospitals ask for replacement donors

Last week, the family of a 74-year-old critical COVID-19 patient had to scout for a suitable plasma donor as the plasma bank that had a stock matching the patient’s blood group asked for a replacement donor. This was even as the patient’s condition was deteriorating and the family was making one last-ditch effort with plasma therapy.

Amidst the debate over its effectiveness, the demand is actually increasing for convalescent plasma therapy, which is the use of antibody-rich blood plasma from a recently recovered patient to boost a critical person’s immune system.

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New Delhi

EC takes note of laxity in following COVID-19 rules

The Election Commission on Wednesday reiterated its guidelines for campaigning during the COVID-19 pandemic after finding that political parties and candidates had been lax in maintaining crowd discipline during the ongoing polls.

With campaigning for the Bihar Assembly elections and bypolls across States under way, the EC wrote to all recognised national and State parties to reiterate it’s earlier advisory to parties regarding social distancing, mask wearing and other COVID-safe measures.

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COVID triggers mental health issues among elderly

More than six months into the pandemic, the COVID-19-induced social isolation has triggered a spate of mental health issues in the elderly.

Helplines opened by the Social Justice Department receive hundreds of calls a day from senior citizen who are grappling with mood disorders and depression as their whole worlds have been turned upside down.

From loneliness and lack of social interaction to missing grandchildren and weekly church service, the older adults find it very difficult to cope with the new post-pandemic routine.

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COVID tally update

India records 55,839 new infections, 702 deaths

The number of coronavirus infections reported in a span of 24 hours remained below 60,000 for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday as India’s caseload went past 77 lakh, while recoveries have crossed 68 lakh, according to data updated by the Union Health Ministry.

The COVID-19 caseload mounted to 77,06,946 with 55,839 new infections being reported in a day, while the death toll climbed to 1,16,616 with 702 more fatalities, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.

A total of 68,74,518 people have recuperated from the disease so far pushing the national recovery rate to 89.20%, while the case fatality rate stood at 1.51%.

The active cases of coronavirus infection remained below eight lakh for the sixth consecutive day.- PTI


At 8,369, Kerala cases highest among southern States

Kerala reported 8,369 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, testing 62,030 samples, and recorded a higher test positivity rate of 13.5%, compared to 12.2% the previous day.

Among active cases, 804 patients were critically ill and being treated in ICUs with 196 on ventilator support. The Health department added 26 deaths to the official list. Six of these deaths were reported from Thrissur, five each from Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam, three each from Ernakulam and Kannur and two from Palakkad.

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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trial Brazil volunteer dies, trial to continue

Brazilian health authority Anvisa said on Wednesday that a volunteer in a clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University had died but added that the trial would continue.

Oxford confirmed the plan to keep testing, saying in a statement that after careful assessment “there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial.” Brazilian newspaper O Globo reported that the volunteer had been given a placebo and not the trial vaccine, citing unnamed sources.

AstraZeneca declined to comment immediately.

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