Coronavirus updates | May 1, 2021

A long line of ambulances, with bodies of COVID patients, awaiting clearance at the Chavulamadhum cremation ground, in Visakhapatnam on Friday, April 30, 2021.   | Photo Credit: DEEPAK KR

With 4,08,323 new COVID-19 cases recorded until 11 p.m. on April 30, India became the first country in the world to register over 4 lakh infections in a single day. As many as 3,464 new deaths were also reported on the day.

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:


Odisha conducts 'symbolic dry run' of vaccination drive for 18+

The Odisha government on Saturday conducted a "symbolic dry run" of the COVID-19 vaccination drive for people in the age group of 18-44 years, ahead of its formal launch on May 3, an official said.

The administration had on Friday night said that it would symbolically start the third phase of the inoculation drive on the stipulated day, May 1, only in Bhubaneswar as it is the first day of the weekend urban area lockdown across the state.

"In order to fix the technical issues and ensure that the software is in order, we have conducted a symbolic dry run in Bhubaneswar today," Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner P C Chaudhury said.

The third phase of the vaccination will start from Monday only for registered persons in all government hospitals across the state capital, he said.

Chaudhury said that people in the 18-44 years age bracket and those above 45 years will be inoculated simultaneously and separate arrangements will be made in hospitals for both groups.

"Once Covishield vaccines reach, the government will plan the third phase vaccination across the state," an official said adding that the state has the capability to inoculate 3 to 4 lakh people every day.



‘Everything falls on my shoulders,’ says SII CEO Adar Poonawalla on vaccine pressure

Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonwalla on Saturday spoke out about the pressure he was under over the production of COVID-19 vaccines to meet the ever-increasing demand in India as the country battles a devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m staying here (London) an extended time because I don't want to go back to that situation. Everything falls on my shoulders but I can't do it alone...I don’t want to be in a situation where you are just trying to do your job, and just because you can’t supply the needs of X, Y or Z you really don’t want to guess what they are going to do,” Mr. Poonawalla said.

“The level of expectation and aggression is really unprecedented. It’s overwhelming. Everyone feels they should get the vaccine. They can’t understand why anyone else should get it before them,” he said.

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On the first day, 1,000 persons in 18-44 group inoculated in Mumbai

The vaccination drive for the people in the age group of 18 to 44 years took off in Mumbai with limited access even as the city civic body stressed to have achieved the set target of inoculating 1,000 people on the first day on Saturday.

A senior Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) official said the civic body has decided to increase the target of inoculating the individuals in the 18-44 age group to 2,500 on Sunday.

"We have decided to vaccinate 200 people from the 18-44 age category today at each of all the five centres and we have fully achieved this target. Each centre was supposed to vaccinate 200 people," Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said.

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Sputnik V

India gets first consignment of Sputnik V vaccine from Russia

India on Saturday received the first consignment of Russia's SputnikV COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).

The CBIC in a tweet said that Hyderabad customs expedited the clearance of the COVID-19 vaccine imported from Russia.

"Hyderabad Customs, @cgstcushyd facilitated expeditious clearance of #SputnikV Vaccine imported from Russia,” the CBIC tweeted.

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Essar opens 100-bed COVID Care Centre in Gujarat

Essar group on Saturday said it has opened a 100-bed Covid Care Centre with oxygen support at Devbhumi Dwarka district in Gujarat.

The centre, duly equipped with oxygen support, will be operated by the Khambaliya Civil Hospital, Essar group said in a statement.

The 100-bed centre, located at Kajurda village at Khambaliya, was virtually inaugurated by Chief Minister Vijaybhai Rupani earlier in the day, the statement said.

It houses 40 rooms with double occupancy and 20 rooms of single occupancy to cater to the medical needs of the people.

The centre will also take care of housekeeping and healthy diet arrangements for the patients admitted in the facility. The centre is also equipped with an administration hub for the hospital staff.



Goa unable to start vaccination for people above 18 due to lack of doses

The Goa government could not start the drive to inoculate the 18 to 45 age group in the State on Saturday due to unavailability of vaccine doses.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said the State has placed an order for doses with the Pune-based Serum Institute of India.

"People should not rush to health centres as the vaccination for those in the age group of 18 to 45 years is yet to start. It will begin once we procure vaccine doses," he told reporters.



Jharkhand waits for additional vaccine stock to begin 3rd phase of inoculation: CM Soren

Facing delay in vaccine supplies, Jharkhand which could not launch the inoculation drive for the people in the age-group of 18-44 years on Saturday, has sought Centre's intervention for facilitating procurement of at least 50 lakh vaccine doses, Chief Minister Hemant Soren said.

The State had placed a demand for 50 lakh vaccine doses in advance to launch the vaccination campaign for 1.57 crore population in the 18-44 age-bracket under the Liberalised and Accelerated Phase 3 Strategy of COVID-19 vaccination for which registration had commenced since April 28.

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Only 25 people can attend marriage events in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat on Saturday further lowered the cap on the number of people attending a marriage ceremony in the state from 100 to 25 in the wake of the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.

Reviewing the COVID situation in the state via video conferencing, Mr Rawat directed all district magistrates to limit the number of people attending marriage ceremonies to 25.

He also authorised the DMs to reduce the duration for the opening of market places if they find it necessary.


World Health Organisation

WHO approves Moderna vaccine for emergency use

The World Health Organisation has given the go-ahead for emergency use of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine.

The mRNA vaccine from the US manufacturer joins vaccines from AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson in receiving the WHO's emergency use listing.

Similar approvals for China's Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines are expected in the coming days and weeks, WHO has said.

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Rajindra hospital sees 37 COVID deaths in past 24 hours

As many as 37 patients have died in the past 24 hours at COVID isolation facility at Punjab’s Rajindra hospital in Patiala, according to official data released on Saturday.

The Rajindra hospital is working as tertiary care for the care of COVID patients, and it caters patients not only from Punjab but from other states including the National Capital Region as well. - Vikas Vasudeva

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Sri Lanka

Lanka looking at sources outside India to purchase AstraZeneca vaccine due to supply delay

Sri Lanka is looking at sources other than India to purchase the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in view of delay in securing the vaccines from the Serum Institute of India, health authorities said on Saturday.

“The supply is being delayed from India. We have to understand that India has to look after their own country before supplying to us. It is not that they have told no to us," Gen Shavendra Silva, the chief of the COVID prevention operations told reporters.

Silva said that presidential advisor Lalith Weeratunga was looking at other country sources to buy the coronavirus vaccines.

Sri Lanka was left with only 300,000 jabs of India-manufactured Covishield when it started rolling out the second jab. - PTI

Uttar Pradesh

UP begins vaccinating 18-44 age group in 7 districts

The Uttar Pradesh government on Saturday started the first phase of vaccination for the 18-44 age group in seven districts that have more than 9,000 active COVID-19 cases with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath launching the programme from Avantibai Hospital here.

An Uttar Pradesh government spokesperson said Adityanath had sent his state aircraft to Hyderabad to get the batch of vaccines for the inoculation programme for people in the 18-plus category.

The districts where the vaccination started on Saturday are Lucknow, Kanpur, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Meerut and Bareilly. - PTI


Gujarat CM urges sarpanchs to rid villages of COVID-19 in 15 days

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Saturday urged sarpanchs in the state to take steps for making their villages coronavirus-free in the next 15 days.

He made the appeal during a virtual meeting with the village heads on the occasion of Gujarat's Foundation Day.

The foundation day was celebrated in a low-key manner in view of the coronavirus situation and death of 18 COVID-19 patients in a hospital fire in Bharuch earlier in the day. - PTI


Unoccupied houses can be turned into COVID-19 Care Centres; BBMP issues guidelines

You don’t have to live in an apartment complex to set up COVID-19 Care Centres. They can also be established in independent unoccupied houses in neighbourhoods if residents are willing to adhere to the rules.

In the wake of Residents’ Welfare Associations, apartments and gated complexes expressing interest in setting up care centres on their premises, the BBMP on Friday issued a list of dos and don’ts that need to be followed.

While people who are asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms can shift to community-managed centres, the notification stated that exceptions include infected patients over the age of 60 and below 10 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers, and those suffering from comorbidities. They cannot take in people with tuberculosis and HIV as well as those who are immune-compromised or are on steroids and immune-suppressants.

Beds should be at a distance of six feet from each other with temporary partitions or screens as dividers.

Tamil Nadu

As the COVID-19 battle rages on, fever surveillance workers return to Chennai neighbourhoods

Last year, when the pandemic began, around 12,000 surveillance workers were engaged across all divisions in Chennai to conduct door-to-door survey for COVID-19 symptoms.

They worked until the end of January 2021 and are now employed once again for this work, due to galloping Coronavirus cases. Recently, Meghanath Reddy, Deputy Commissioner, GCC, tweeted, “Fever surveillance workers and FOCUS volunteers are Chennai Corporation’s foot soldiers. These men and women with their selfless service have become our backbone in stemming the spread of COVID. The city is proud of them.”

In some zones, fever surveillance workers start their work as early as 7 a.m., when they are briefed by the sanitary inspector and zonal level officials, following which they head into their areas. Some are assigned a new locality every month.

Last year, GCC paid each worker ₹500 a day, and set an average target of 150 to 200 houses a day.

New Delhi

Sitar maestro Pandit Debu Chaudhuri dies of Covid-related complications

Sitar maestro Pandit Devbrata Chaudhuri died of Covid-related complications at a Delhi hospital on Saturday. He was 85.

His son Prateek Chaudhuri announced the death of his father, more popularly known as Debu Chaudhuri, on his official Facebook page.

"My Father, The Legend of Sitar, Pandit Debu Chaudhuri... is no more. He was admitted with Covid along with dementia complications and was put in ICU on ventilator around midnight today.( 1st May 2021)..after which he suffered a heart attack and could not be revived ..... In spite of all efforts and prayers he could not be saved," Mr. Prateek wrote.


Serum Institute plans to start vaccine production outside India: The Times

The Serum Institute of India, which manufactures the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, is planning to start vaccine production in other countries as it struggles to meet supply commitments, its chief executive officer told The Times.

"There's going to be an announcement in the next few days,"Adar Poonawalla was quoted as saying by the newspaper in an interview published on Friday.

Mr. Poonawalla said last week that the Serum Institute would be able to raise its monthly output to 100 million doses by July, later than a previous timeline of end-May. Several states have run out of vaccines against COVID-19.


Australians to face five-year jail or hefty fine if they return home from India

Threatening a five-year jail term or hefty fine, the Australian government temporarily barred its citizens from entering the country if they happened to be in India within 14 days of their intended arrival.

The decision was announced after a meeting of the National Cabinet on Friday and will come into force from Monday.

The move aims at keeping the coronavirus spread in check in Australia as India is facing a surge in infections cases.

The decision was based on the proportion of overseas travellers in quarantine in Australia, who have contracted the infection in India, according to Health Minister Greg hunt.

New Delhi

Centre releases SDRF instalment in advance due to COVID-19 surge

The Centre has released the first instalment of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to States, in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19 that has claimed thousands of lives since April.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in a statement, said ₹8,873.6 crore had been released to the States, an annual exercise that is usually done in June.

“As a special dispensation, the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, at the recommendation of Ministry of Home Affairs, has released in advance of the normal schedule the first instalment of the Central share of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for the year 2021-22 to all the States,” the MHA said.

Uttar Pradesh

Inquiry ordered after Agra man pleads before policemen for oxygen cylinder

Police have ordered an inquiry after a video emerged of man purportedly pleading before some police personnel as oxygen cylinders were being taken from a private hospital in Agra.

The man prostrated before the police personnel and also knelt with folded handed as he begged for an oxygen cylinder.

After the video went viral on social media, Superintendent of Police (City) Botre Rohan Pramod denied allegations that police were taking away the oxygen cylinder from him.

Jammu and Kashmir

J&K to begin vaccination for people in 18-44 age group on May 1

Jammu and Kashmir will roll out vaccination for people in the age group of 18-44 from May 1.

An official said Covaxin doses will be administered in Srinagar and Jammu districts in the first phase.

“Covaxin is being launched in capital cities of J&K for people who are 18 years and above and have pre-registered,” an official said.


Dr. Anthony Fauci suggests a few weeks’ lockdown in India to break chain of coronavirus transmission

Top U.S. epidemiologist Anthony Fauci has suggested a lockdown for a few weeks in India as an immediate step to contain the spread of the coronavirus as its deadly second wave shows no signs of ebbing.

Dr. Fauci, in an interview to an Indian newspaper, said another most important thing in the immediate is to get supplies of oxygen, medication, PPEs.

He said looking at the magnitude of the crisis, India should look at putting together a crisis group that would meet and start getting things organised.

Without naming any government, he said one of the things that should have been recognised that “victory was declared maybe too prematurely”.

New Delhi

Editors Guild demands priority vaccination for journalists

The Editors Guild of India on Friday condoled the death of journalists due to COVID-19 in the past year and again called on the government to give them priority in vaccination along with frontline workers.

“In April 2021 itself, more than 52 journalists died because of the virus. Further, according to the Delhi-based Institute of Perception Studies, more than 100 journalists have died since the lockdown was first declared from April 1, 2020. Many of these were brave journalists who had been reporting on the worsening pandemic and bringing to fore stories on the great human tragedy that has been unfolding before us,” the EGI said in a statement.

The Guild said it was distressed that the Centre had not done anything to speed up the vaccination of journalists over the past few months.


U.S. to restrict travel from India starting May 4

Due to the very high numbers of COVID-19 cases and multiple strains of the virus in India, the United States will restrict travel of non-citizens from the country, starting Tuesday, Eastern U.S. time.

U.S. President Joe Biden issued a proclamation on Friday afternoon prohibiting the entry of non-citizens (the administration has done away with the term ‘alien’) who have been physically present in India for 14 days prior to their entry or attempted entry into the U.S.

The entry restrictions does not apply to lawful permanent residents’ (LPRs or green card holders); non-citizens married to Americans or green card holders; non-citizen parents or legal guardians of minors (under 21) who are U.S. citizens or green card holders ; siblings of unmarried citizens or LPRs, provided they are both under 21 and unmarried and other categories of travelers. The exemption list is longer than similar lists under the Trump administration’s pandemic-related restrictions.


16 dead in fire at COVID-19 hospital in Gujarat

A massive fire at a COVID-19 hospital in Bharuch killed 16 people, including two staff members of the hospital, early on Saturday. 

The fire occurred at the Welfare Hospital, a four-storey building, and was brought under control in an hour. The cause is yet to be ascertained. 

“16 people died in the incident,” Bharuch District Collector M.D. Modia told The Hindu.  The deceased include 14 patients and two staff members who were attending to them. The patients died of burns and asphyxiation as the building was engulfed by the fire.


Mohd. Shahbuddin, former RJD MP serving life term, dies due to COVID-19

Four time former Rashtriya Janata Dal MP from Siwan in Bihar Mohd. Shahabuddin dies due to COVID-19. He was serving life imprisonment in double murder case and was shifted to Tihar Jail in New Delhi in 2018 by an order of Supreme Court. After being infected with COVID-19 Shahabuddin was shifted to Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital for treatment where he died on Saturday morning.

RJD spokesman Mrityunjaj Tiwari has mourned death of the party leader.

- Amarnath Tewary

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