Coronavirus updates | March 21, 2021

India reported 40,953 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, the highest single-day rise in 111 days.

March 21, 2021 09:42 am | Updated 10:07 pm IST

 Lt. Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, distributing face masks to senior citizens to create awareness on Coronavirus and vaccination at Muthialpet in Puducherry on Sunday.

Lt. Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, distributing face masks to senior citizens to create awareness on Coronavirus and vaccination at Muthialpet in Puducherry on Sunday.

The country reported 188 deaths in the last 24 hours , the Health Ministry said on Saturday. India is seeing a surge in COVID-19 deaths after the country touched a low of less than 100 deaths per day in February.

Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh continue to report a spike in new cases. Amid the surge, doctors have requested the Central government to expand the vaccination cover to include caregivers of patients who are bed ridden.

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:


Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, First Lady 'comfortable with mild symptoms'

Prime Minister Imran Khan and First Lady Bushra Bibi are feeling "comfortable with mild symptoms", his top communication aide said on Sunday, a day after they tested positive for the COVID-19.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill, in a tweet in Urdu, said that the Prime Minister and the First Lady are thankful to their well-wishers for their good wishes.

Mr. Khan, 68 will continue to perform his official duties via video conferencing, he said.


Flyers with negative COVID-19 reports found positive during tests at Hyderabad airport

Several international passengers who travelled with negative COVID-19 reports have been found positive for the pathogen when tested on arrival at the international airport here, airport sources said.

Cases of international passengers being found positive in tests conducted at the airport despite having a negative report were being reported on regular basis, they said.

Confirming that such cases had been noticed, Union Health Ministry official Anuradha Medoju said the information on positive cases was shared with State government officials for quarantining and other purposes.


Cities in Madhya Pradesh to have sirens blown to raise awareness about masks

A siren will be sounded in all cities in Madhya Pradesh at 11 a.m. on March 23 for two minutes when people will take a vow to wear masks and maintain a physical distance at public places to check the spread of coronavirus, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said in view of a fresh surge in the infections.

He said a siren will be blown again at 7 p.m. on Tuesday to remind people of their resolve to follow these norms.

"Putting on a mask is very important and that is why we are starting this campaign. We should be cautious. Do not let things go out of our hands," the CM told reporters.

Mr. Chouhan said, in a worrying trend, fresh COVID-19 cases in Indore, Bhopal and other places are on the rise.


BJP workers not infected as they work hard, says MLA

A Gujarat BJP MLA said workers of his party do not get infected with novel coronavirus since they work hard.

Rajkot (South) legislator Govind Patel's take on coronavirus came after reporters asked him if the flouting of guidelines by political leaders and workers during poll campaigning was resulting in a spike in cases.

"Those who work hard do not get coronavirus infection. BJP workers work hard, and therefore, not a single worker has been infected with the virus," Mr. Patel claimed.

Incidentally, during the campaigning for the local bodies polls last month, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani was detected with the infection, and among others in the ruling party who have tested positive at different points of time include State unit chief CR Paatil and several MLAs.

On Saturday, Vadodara BJP MP Ranjanben Bhatt had announced that she was admitted in hospital for COVID-19.

New Delhi

4.5 crore vaccine doses administered in India: Harsh Vardhan

More than 6 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been sent to 76 nations, while 4.5 crore doses have been administered to beneficiaries in the country till now, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday.

He also called for making the vaccination drive a “Jan Aandolan” (mass movement).

“Until this morning, nearly 4.5 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have been given to the people in this country. More than six crore doses have been sent to 76 nations,” Mr. Vardhan said during a media interaction at the Institute of Microbial Technology (CSIR-IMTECH) here.



Vaccines are answer, not one-day lockdowns, says Omar Abdullah

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said one-day shutdowns to contain the spread of coronavirus is a "meaningless tokenism" which can lead to complacency, and called for allowing more people to take vaccine against COVID-19.

The Madhya Pradesh government had on March 19 announced Sunday lockdowns in Bhopal, Indore and Jabalpur till further orders in view of the spurt in coronavirus cases. "With a rampaging virus that has a 2-14 day incubation period this one-day lockdown is meaningless tokenism. All it will do is create a misplaced sense of complacency," Mr. Abdullah tweeted.

The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister said vaccines were the answer to the spread of COVID-19 and called for opening up the vaccines to more people.

New Delhi

A person cannot donate blood for 28 days after taking last jab of COVID vaccine: order

A recent order by the National Blood Transfusion Council has said that a person cannot donate blood for the next 28 days after taking the last dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

As approved in the 30th meeting of the governing body of the NBTC held on February 17, the deferral criteria for blood donation post COVID-19 vaccine was finalised as "28 days post vaccination deferral after the last dose of COVID-19 vaccination irrespective of the type of the vaccine received."  The order implies that the donor has to wait for 28 days after taking second dose of the vaccine, which means that he or she cannot donate for 56 days after taking the first jab.

The order was issued by NBTC director Dr Sunil Gupta on March 5.

Madhya Pradesh

With medical team around, 4 COVID-19 patients answer MP exam

Four coronavirus positive persons on Sunday answered a Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission exam at a special centre for them with a team of two doctors and an equal number of nurses in PPE kits donning the role of invigilators, an official said.

The four candidates wrote the test at Mata Jija Bai Government Post Graduate Girls College in Moti Tabela area here and all outbreak norms were adhered to strictly, with a medical team of four in place for any assistance, COVID -19 Nodal Officer Amit Malakar told PTI. - PTI

Port Blair

'Pandemic under check in Andamans as tourists required to furnish COVID negative reports to enter archipelago'

The coronavirus pandemic is under control in Andaman and Nicobar Islands as tourists are required to furnish COVID negative reports from their respective States or Union Territories to enter the archipelago, a senior health official said.

Deputy Director (Health) and nodal officer for COVID- 19, Dr Avijit Roy, said that the Union Territory administration is ensuring strict adherence to the safety guidelines.

"It is compulsory for tourists to produce COVID negative reports from their native places to enter the islands. The archipelago has not reported a single coronavirus fatality in the last six months," he said.

Even islanders have to produce COVID negative certificates to visit any other island than the one they live in, the health official said. - PTI


Second wave of COVID-19 has begun, says Karnataka Health Minister

Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said the second wave of coronavirus has begun and sought people's cooperation to contain the disease.

"We are at the beginning of the second wave of coronavirus. Let us all join hands to control it because the next three months are crucial for us," Mr. Sudhakar told reporters in Bengaluru as the coronavirus cases started shooting up.

He said he would discuss with Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa about the COVID-19 situation and measures to be taken.

He said the state Technical Advisory Committee on coronavirus has given clear guidelines to the government stating that people would be in for a trouble if certain activities were not controlled. - PTI


COVID-19 vaccination timings for unregistered beneficiaries increased by four hours: Jain

Unregistered but eligible people in Delhi will be able to take COVID-19 vaccine jabs between 3 pm and 9 pm, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said on Sunday.

Till now, unregistered beneficiaries were being inoculated between 3 pm and 5pm, he said.

Beneficiaries need to register themselves on Co-WIN portal to get jabs. Those who do not have access to the Co-WIN portal can go to the centre and take COVID-19 vaccines.

“Only registered beneficiaries will be given vaccine shots between 9 am and 3 pm. The unregistered ones can take the jabs from 3 pm to 9 pm… They just need to carry their Aadhaar card or any other valid identity proof,” Mr. Jain said. - PTI


Om Birla tests positive for COVID-19

Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla tested positive for COVID-19 on March 19, confirmed a statement issued by the All India Institute if Medical Science (AIIMS), Delhi. - Bindu Shajan Perappadan


New infections scale fresh peak

A year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a ‘janta curfew’ that ended up being a prelude to the national lockdown on March 25 last year, new daily cases skyrocketed to 43,846 — a new high for this year. This took the number of confirmed infections in India to nearly 11.6 million.

Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh accounted for 77.7% of the new cases in the last 24 hours. Maharashtra reported 27,126 cases followed by Punjab with 2,578 and Kerala with 2,078 cases. - Jacob Koshy


Centre warns of ‘potential upsurge’ in cases at Kumbh Mela

A team of the Health Ministry has reported that nearly 10 to 20 pilgrims and 10 to 20 locals at the Kumbh Mela, ongoing in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, are being reported COVID-19 positive everyday. Such a rate had the potential to rapidly turn into an ‘upsurge’ of cases.

The Uttarakhand government had also been told that the daily testing numbers being reported in Haridwar, around 50,000 rapid antigen tests and 5000 RT PCR test, were inadequate given the expected number of pilgrims to the Kumbh Mela.

The team, led by Sujeet Kumar Singh, Director, National Centres of Disease Control (NCDC) in Delhi, had visited Uttarakhand on March 16 and 17 to review the medical and public health preparedness measures undertaken by the State for the festival. - Jacob Koshy

New Delhi

Positivity rate crosses 1%, daily cases at 3-month high

The surge in new COVID-19 cases continued in Delhi on Saturday with 813 fresh infections reported in the last 24 hours — the highest so far this year. The case tally now stands at 6,47,161.

Saturday's daily-case count is the highest in nearly three months. On December 24, 2020, 1,063 infections were reported.

Two deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 10,955. Of the total cases, 6,32,797 people have recovered and there are now 3,409 active cases. The number of active cases has also been steadily rising for more than two weeks now.

As per the health bulletin on Saturday, a total of 75,888 tests were done in a day.

The number of daily cases had dropped below 100 in January. It crossed the 200 mark in the last week of February and has been increasing since then. On January 16, the number of new cases was 94. It increased to 200 on February 24.

Tamil Nadu

‘Child labour increased after COVID-19’

A rapid survey conducted by Campaign against Child Labour has found that there has been an increase in engagement of child labour following the COVID-19 pandemic here.

Campaign against Child Labour is a group 24 non-governmental organisations and they conducted the survey among 818 children to study the impact of child labour following the COVID-19 pandemic. The group divided Tamil Nadu into five zones – North, East, Central, West and South.

According to the survey, child labour increased by 280% among vulnerable communities.

There was rapid increase in the North, South and West zones and it was lower in Central and East zones.

Tamil Nadu

Schools in T.N. to be shut for Classes 9 to 11

The Tamil Nadu government has announced that schools will be closed for Classes 9, 10 and 11 from March 22 until further orders. Hostels will also be shut, according to an order issued by the Revenue and Disaster Management Department.

The order also said the conduct of the examinations for Class 10 students of boards other than the State Board and special classes and hostels for them will be permitted.

With COVID-19 case clusters increasing in the State, the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine has said it is not advisable to continue in-person learning for students of Classes 9 to 11.

However, Class 12 students who have to sit for the board examination can be permitted to have in-person learning since the number will be fewer. But they will have to comply with all the standard operating procedures, the Directorate has said. Intense testing and contact-tracing are under way, besides micro-containment in zones where clusters have sprung up.

The emergence of clusters at a few schools has prompted the decision.


HSR Layout, R.R. Nagar, Bellandur among wards with most cases in Bengaluru

As Karnataka joins four other States in making up for 80% of new infections in India, Bengaluru is beginning to witness a repeat of scenes from last year when COVID-19 was on a steady rise.

In the last 10 days, 10 wards in particular reported the most number of cases: Arakere, Begur, HSR Layout, Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Bellandur, Shantalanagar, Hagadur, Doddanekundi, Banaswadi and New Thippasandra.

However, the BBMP seems to have no specific plans for these wards. BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad said the same plan put in place for other wards will be applicable to these as well. “We are focussing on more testing and more vaccination,” he said.

Though the city has been the primary contributor to the caseload throughout the pandemic, the marked increase in the last few days is raising concerns. On Saturday, 1,186 new positive cases were reported in Bengaluru Urban, along with five new deaths. According to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) war room data for Friday, there were 1,037 new cases.


Police use water cannon as German lockdown protest turns violent

Germany Police deployed water cannon and pepper spray after a gathering of some 20,000 protesters against lockdown and other coronavirus rules in central Germany turned violent, with some demonstrators throwing bottles at police.

Protesters from all over Germany converged on the central city of Kassel for the march, which was organised by the "Querdenker" - "Lateral Thinkers" - online conspiracy movement.

"Bottles were thrown and there were attempts to breakthrough barriers," police said on Twitter.

Police said protesters disobeyed instructions they gave to help ensure people's safety, including by refusing to wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines.

Tamil Nadu

Thanjavur school booked for not adhering to SOP

A case has been registered against a private school in Thanjavur , where a cluster of cases was detected, on the charge of negligence in adhering to the standard operating procedure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A second batch of 15 students at a private school in Thanjavur tested positive on Friday. Already 11 students at the same school had tested positive for novel coronavirus infection. Hence, a case has been registered against the school management and a fine of ₹5,000 was collected from it, Collector M. Govinda Rao said.

In an attempt to ensure that standard operating procedures were followed scrupulously by the students, the schools from where positive cases were reported were being levied penalties, Mr. Rao said.

To stop the virus from spreading through schools, the flying squads formed in the 8 Assembly segments have been asked to monitor whether the students wore masks or not.

Tamil Nadu

Curbs back in temples amid COVID-19 surge

With the sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu, the State government has reintroduced restrictions in temples for the safety of devotees and employees.

Devotees will be allowed only up to a certain point inside the temple, in queues while maintaining adequate physical distancing. No  archanais  will be performed and  prasadam  and  theertham  (holy water) will not be distributed.

The HR and CE Department issued a circular to this effect on Friday to all temples asking them to ensure enforcement of standard operatring procedures, including wearing of masks, frequent use of hand sanitisers, restricting entry of children aged below 10, elders above 60 and pregnant women.


Puducherry shuts schools till May 31 as cases spike

All schools (State Board, CBSE and ICSE) in the Union Territory of Puducherry will remain closed for Classes I to VIII from Monday (March 22) till May 31 in view of the sudden spike in the number of COVID-19 cases.

The decision was taken based on a recommendation by the High Level COVID Vaccine Committee chaired by Lt. Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan.

P.T. Rudra Goud, Director of School Education, said for Classes 9 to 11, online lessons will be conducted for five days a week from Monday to Friday.

Meanwhile, the U.T. recorded 60 new cases and 24 recoveries on Saturday.

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