Coronavirus updates | March 20, 2021

A file photo of a man walking past an effigy of the coronavirus in Worli, Mumbai.   | Photo Credit: VIVEK BENDRE

India saw 40,953 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, the highest single-day rise recorded in 111 days, taking the nationwide COVID-19 tally to 1,15,55,284, according to data updated by the Union Health Ministry at 8 a.m. on March 20.

Registering an increase for the 10th day in a row, the total active caseload has reached 2,88,394, which now comprises 2.49% of the total infections, while the recovery rate has further dropped to 96.12%, the data stated.

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India registered over 1 lakh cases in just three days. On March 19, 39,726 new cases were registered while 35,871 fresh cases were registered on March 18.

The daily rise in infections (40,953) was the highest recorded in 111 days, while the death toll increased to 1,59,558 with 188 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.

On November 29, 41,810 new infections were recorded in a span of 24 hours.

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:


Aaditya Thackeray tests positive for COVID-19

Maharashtra Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray tests positive for coronavirus.

"On having mild symptoms of COVID, I had myself tested and I am COVID positive. I request everyone who came in contact with me to get themselves tested. I urge everyone to realise that it is extremely important to not let your guard down. Please follow COVID protocols & stay safe," tweeted Mr. Thackeray.

-Alok Deshpande


COVID-19 curbs to continue in Nagpur till March 31 with relaxations

Maharashtra Minister Nitin Raut on Saturday said curbs imposed in Nagpur district amid the rise in COVID-19 cases will continue March 31, but with some relaxations.

Strict curbs have been imposed in the district from March 15 to 21, following a surge in COVID-19 infections.

Mr. Raut, who is the district guardian minister, held a review meeting with district officials to assess the situation.

The restrictions, which have been imposed in the district, will continue till March 31 with partial relaxations, the minister said.

He further informed that a separate standard operating procedure will be issued for the festival of Holi, which will be observed on March 28-29..


Tamil Nadu

Schools in Tamil Nadu to be shut from March 22

With Tamil Nadu witnessing a sudden surge in coronavirus cases over the last few days, the state government on Saturday ordered closure of schools for classes 9, 10 and 11 from March 22 until further orders.

However, they would continue to function for the 12th standard students for they have to take the board examination.

Notifying the closure, the government said the director of public health and preventive medicine has recommended that it would not be advisable to continue classes for 9, 10 and 11 from the health point of view as there has been a rise in COVID-19 cases.

With regard to 12th standard, the director said the students may be permitted to attend school as their numbers would be lesser and they have to sit for the board examination with strictly adherence to preventive measures such as wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing.



Pak PM Imran Khan tests positive for COVID-19

Pakistan Prime minister Imran Khan on Saturday tested positive for the COVID-19 and is self isolating himself, his top aide on health Dr Faisal Sultan said.

Mr. Khan, 67, tested positive two days after he received the first shot of vaccination against the coronavirus.

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Experts must probe surge in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra: Fadnavis

Senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday said a team of experts should be formed to probe the reason for the surge in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra compared to the other states in the country.

The former chief minister was speaking to the media after attending a meeting with Nagpur Guardian Minister Nitin Raut and district officials at the divisional commissionerate here.

"I feel a team of experts should be constituted to study the surge in COVID-19 cases in the state. Maharashtra is no different from other states, but then why is it witnessing such a surge in infections?" Mr. Fadnavis said.

Covishield or Covaxin?

IPS officers ask government experts: which vaccine is better – Covishield or Covaxin?

Government held an emergency meeting on Friday amid reports of clotting of blood in some patients in Europe who received shots of Oxford-AstraZeneca and concluded that no such problem has been reported in India, Dr. N.K Arora, head of one of the national task force for COVID-19 said in an online interaction with Indian Police Service (IPS) officers on Saturday.

The AstraZeneca vaccines are produced by Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune and is known by the name of Covishield in India. The other available vaccine – Covaxin is produced by Bharat Biotech. - Vijaita Singh

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Tamil Nadu

Vaccination launched in residential apartments

The Greater Chennai Corporation has launched COVID-19 vaccination at residential apartment complexes in the city, said Corporation Commissioner G. Prakash.

Launching containment activities in areas such as Ayanavaram, he said civic officials had vaccinated four lakh residents in the 15 zones of the Corporation.

“We are planning to cover 50,000 persons every day as part of the vaccination programme,” Mr. Prakash said.

The civic body has made arrangements for a vaccination camp for 2,000 residents in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, near Ripon Buildings, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Residents are requested to carry official identification cards to participate.

New Delhi

Enforce COVID safe behaviour, MHA to States

Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla has asked all States “strictly enforce COVID-19 appropriate behaviour such as wearing of face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing among people”.

In a letter sent on Friday, Mr. Bhalla said: “After the steady decline in COVID-19 cases for about 5 months, for the last few weeks, the number of COVID cases are showing an increasing trend in several parts of the country. It has been observed that it is largely due to laxity in the observance of COVID appropriate behaviour by the people, especially in the crowded places.”

The letter added that it is important to ensure compliance of the guidelines issued on January 27 that are currently in force “keeping in view the fresh surge of cases and upcoming festivals”.

“I would, therefore, urge you to take necessary measures for creating awareness among people to follow COVID appropriate behaviour and simultaneously take necessary action for its strict enforcement, so as to fully overcome the pandemic,” the letter said.


AstraZeneca vaccinations resume in Europe after clot scare

Countries across Europe resumed vaccinations with the AstraZeneca shot on March 19, as leaders sought to reassure their populations it is safe following brief suspensions that cast doubt on a vaccine that is critical to ending the coronavirus pandemic.

France’s Prime Minister rolled up his sleeve to get the shot and Britain’s planned to, as did a handful of other senior politicians across the continent where the inoculation drive has repeatedly stumbled and several countries are now re-imposing lockdowns as infections rise in many places.

Britain is a notable exception: The outbreak there is receding, and the country has been widely praised for its vaccination drive, though this week it announced that it, too, would be hit by supply shortages. European Union countries, by contrast, have struggled to quickly roll out vaccines, and the pause of the AstraZeneca shot by many this week only added to those troubles.


Bihar braces for second wave of COVID-19

With the COVID-19 numbers gradually rising in Bihar amid apprehensions over a second wave of the pandemic, the State Health Department has cancelled the leave of all doctors and health workers till April 5 with immediate effect.

The order cancels leave of all Medical Officers, Principals, Superintendents, doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, and other technicians and assistants.

Health workers on leave have also been asked to report to duty as soon as possible. However, those on maternity and study leave have been excluded from the purview of the order. “The leave of doctors and health workers has been cancelled to maintain special vigil and surveillance to contain the spread of second wave of the pandemic,” said the order issued by Anil Kumar, Joint Secretary, State Health Department.

On March 17, following an interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the COVID-19 situation across the country, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had said that the “situation in the State is under control but we should be careful”.


BBMP moots closure of gyms, party halls, swimming pools

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), worried about the rise in COVID-19 cases, wants the State government to close open air gyms in parks, regular gyms, swimming pools and party or community halls in apartments to stem the spread of the virus. It plans to submit its recommendations, which also include reduced occupancy in theatres, to the State government.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad said that five zones – East, West, South, Mahadevapura and Bommanahalli – were reporting more than 100 cases a day. In comparison, the number of cases is fewer in Rajarajeshwarinagar, Dasarahalli and Yelahanka zones.

“In light of the increase in cases, we have already had preliminary discussions with the Chief Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary and officials of the Department of Health and Family Welfare. We will recommend closure of gyms, swimming pools and party/ community halls in apartments, apart from closure of open air gyms in all BBMP parks,” he said.

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