Coronavirus updates | May 3, 2021

Malaysia has detected its first case of a highly infectious coronavirus variant first identified in India, days after imposing a ban on flights from India.

Updated - May 04, 2021 07:41 am IST

Published - May 03, 2021 08:41 am IST

Family members of COVID-19 patients wait to fill their empty cylinders with medical oxygen outside an oxygen filling centre, at Bhogal, in New Delhi, Sunday, May 2, 2021.

Family members of COVID-19 patients wait to fill their empty cylinders with medical oxygen outside an oxygen filling centre, at Bhogal, in New Delhi, Sunday, May 2, 2021.

India leads the world in the average daily reported infections and recorded deaths. It currently accounts for one in every 2 global cases each day. The country’s number of daily average deaths is 1.3 times that of Brazil, which recorded the second highest number of new fatalities — nearly 2,300.

The pace of COVID-19 vaccinations in India has reduced significantly in the last 15 days. By April 15, around 32.69 lakh doses were administered in the country daily on an average. However, as of April 30, only around 23.72 lakh doses were given in the country daily on an average.

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

No Oxygen shortage: Piyush Goyal

Union Minister Piyush Goyal's press conference:

“All hospitals should use oxygen judiciously as per guidelines of Health Ministry.

“There is no shortage of oxygen in the country and the issues in transport are being addressed. So there should be no black marketing or hoarding of oxygen cylinders."

AIIMS Director Dr. Randeep Guleria:

"CT scan and bio markers are being misused.

“There is no benefit of getting a CT if you have a mild case and your oxygen saturation is fine. One CT is equivalent to 300-400 XRays of chest. Risk of cancer in later life increases.

"If there is a doubt, get XRay first. Only if you have moderate case, then get CT scan and bio markers.

"Some people are getting CT scans every three days, there is more harm in this as you are exposing your body to radiation.

"Even if you have recovered from COVID-19, you should take both doses of the vaccine."

 Joint Secretary of the Union Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal:

“12 States started vaccination for 18+ from May 1.

“There are challenges in the field,” he says when asked about oxygen shortages.

“There is no truth in the reports that the Centre has not placed new vaccine orders after March.

“We have already placed orders for May, June and July.”


Natco gets CDSCO nod for emergency use of Baricitinib tablets for COVID-19 treatment

Drugmaker Natco Pharma has received emergency use approval for Baricitinib tablets, 1 mg, 2 mg and 4 mg strengths, from Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) in India. 

Baricitinib, in combination with Remdesivir, is used for treatment of COVID-19 positive patients, a release from Natco on the approval said. 

The company said it intends seeking a compulsory license based on emergency use and in light of the grave and serious public health emergency across India due to the pandemic. It is ready to launch the product this week, so as to make it available to the patients across India, the release said. 

New Delhi

Pfizer donates $70 mn worth COVID-19 treatment drugs to India

Global pharma major Pfizer is sending its medicines worth $70 million (over ₹510 crore), from its distribution centres in the U.S., Europe and Asia, that have been identified as part of India’s COVID-19 treatment protocol, the company’s Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said on May 3.

“We are deeply concerned by the critical COVID-19 situation in India, and our hearts go out to you, your loved ones and all the people of India,” he said in a mail sent to Pfizer India employees that he has shared on his post.


Indian-origin billionaire businessman Vinod Khosla pledges $10 mn for oxygen supply in India

Indian-origin billionaire businessman Vinod Khosla has pledged $10 million for supplying medical oxygen to hospitals in India amidst an unprecedented second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Taking to Twitter, the 66-year-old venture capitalist said that there was a need to save lives as further delay may end up in more deaths.


Taiwan bars arrivals from India

Taiwan will suspend from Tuesday the entry of people who have been to India over the previous 14 days, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said, as the island became the latest to enforce curbs amid surging COVID-19 cases.

The Indian variant of the virus has reached at least 17 countries, including Britain, Iran and Switzerland, spurring several to close their borders to those travelling from India.

Except for Taiwan citizens, all those who had been in India in the prior 14 days would be kept out, Chen said on Monday, with the restriction taking effect at midnight.

Returning Taiwanese will have to spend 14 days in centralised quarantine facilities, however. - Reuters


Lockdown to continue in Goa's tourist hotspots: Minister

Tourist hotspots like Calangute and Candolim in North Goa will continue to be under lockdown, even as the government has lifted the lockdown in other parts of the State, Ports Minister Michael Lobo said on Monday.

Goa, a popular tourism destination, reported an extremely high COVID-19 test positivity rate of over 50% last Thursday, following which the State government imposed the lockdown from April 29.

The lockdown was lifted at 6 a.m. on Monday. - PTI


Australian PM defends ban on citizens returning from India

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday defended his government’s decision to ban and impose a jail term and a penalty for Australians trying to return from India , saying it is in the country’s “best interests” and to prevent a third wave of infections.

The Australian government, for the first time in history, recently imposed a ban on its citizens from returning home, if they have spent time in India up to 14 days before flying back.

The government threatened to prosecute them with a possibility of five years of jail term or a penalty of 66,000 Australian dollars ($50,899).



Urban forester S.G. Neginhal succumbs to COVID-19

Urban forester and Indian Forest Service officer (retired) S.G. Neginhal , 93, who played a pioneering role in greening the city in the 1980s, succumbed to COVID-19 on Sunday morning. He passed away a day after his 93rd birthday on Saturday.

Most of the tree-lined avenues and boulevards in Bengaluru are the legacy of Mr. Neginhal. Unhappy at the loss of green cover due to growth of the city, then chief minister R. Gundu Rao had commissioned a greening campaign. The IFS officer was brought in to lead a special cell within the Forest Department to take up the assignment in 1981. In five years, he planted over 1.5 million trees. The campaign earned him so much fame that then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi got trees from Neginhal to plant in Shakti Sthal, the memorial for former prime minister Indira Gandhi.


Lockdown adds to commuting woes of employees engaged in essential services

Employees attached to hospitals, government offices, pharmacies, and other essential services are finding the daily commute increasingly difficult, with many criticising the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) for running only limited buses.

People who were earlier depending on Namma Metro have to shell out more money to book auto or taxi for their commute.

Family members and friends, who are willing to drop people to work, say that without ID proof, they are often pulled up by the police. “You need to show a railway ticket or identity card, which is fine when the person you’re dropping is in the car. But if the police stop you when you’re returning back alone, you don’t have any proof to explain why you’re out during the lockdown,” said a taxi driver.

Read the complete report .

New Delhi

A second wave of the virus and another exodus

Amid the sustained surge in COVID-19 cases, migrant workers in the city, who had come back to the Capital a few months ago, are forced to return to their villages, yet again due to the pandemic-induced lockdown.

For most, the second phase of restrictions has meant a loss of livelihood for the second time within a year. When the Delhi government announced a one-week lockdown, many had hoped it would not get extended. But that was not to be.

Read a detailed report here .


NMMC issues notices to three hospitals for asking patients’ kin to arrange Remdesivir

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has issued show cause notices to three private hospitals for allegedly asking the relatives of COVID-19 patients to arrange Remdesivir injection. The civic body had already instructed all the hospitals treating novel coronavirus patients that the onus of arranging the anti-viral injection was on the hospital and not on the patient.

NMMC Commissioner Abhijit Bangar said that directions were issued to the hospitals that Remdisivir should be used as per the guidelines laid down by the Maharashtra State Task Force and the Indian Council of Medical Research.

New Delhi

End oxygen deficit by May 3, set up buffer stock: Supreme Court tells Centre

The Supreme Court, in an order released late on Sunday , directed the Centre to ensure that the deficit of oxygen to treat COVID-19 patients in the national capital should be rectified on or before the midnight of May 3.

A Special Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud ordered the Centre to act “in collaboration” with States to “prepare a buffer stock of oxygen for emergency purposes and decentralise the location of the emergency stocks”.

“The emergency stocks shall be created within the next four days and is to be replenished on a day-to-day basis, in addition to the existing allocation of oxygen supply to the States,” ordered the Supreme Court in a 64-page order dated April 30, but published on May 2.

New Delhi

CII president calls for stringent lockdown

Indian industry has urged the government to deploy the armed forces and Central security forces to manage the logistics, infrastructure and personnel necessary to address the rising wave of COVID-19 cases in the country, warning that the requirement for hospital beds, oxygen and medicines will continue to escalate at the current pace of the pandemic.

“At this critical juncture when toll of lives is rising, the Confederation of Indian Industry [CII] urges the strongest national steps, including curtailing economic activity, to reduce suffering,” CII president Uday Kotak said , in what are the first remarks by an industry lobby group in favour of a stringent lockdown.

Calling for the highest-level response measures to the current crisis, Mr. Kotak said, “Given the current pandemic situation, safeguarding lives is of utmost priority and nationwide maximal response measure at the highest level is called for to cut the transmission links. The healthcare infrastructure and supply build-up are being undertaken on emergency basis by the governments at the Centre and States, but will take time.”

New Delhi

Several foreign embassies in Delhi face COVID-19 onslaught

A significant number of foreign diplomats in the national capital have been hit by COVID-19’s deadly second wave . The situation was brought to light on Saturday evening with the Embassy of the Philippines reaching out to the volunteers of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) seeking oxygen cylinders.

The health crisis in the diplomatic enclave has spread to several foreign missions including the New Zealand High Commission which sought help from the IYC publicly on Sunday morning   triggering an online exchange between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh.

“Could you please help with oxygen cylinder urgently at the New Zealand High Commission,” the High Commission on Sunday morning asked B.V. Srinivas, national president of the IYC.  The Hindu  has learnt that the mission has several cases of COVID-19 out of which two are serious that require oxygen support immediately.

New Delhi

Defence Advisor of Tanzania succumbs to COVID-19 in Delhi

Col. Dr. Moses Beatus Mlula, Defence Advisor of Tanzania passed away because of Covid19 at the Base Hospital in Delhi on April 28, High Commission of Tanzania announced.

He is the first foreign diplomat casualty of COVID-19 in India.

- Kallol Bhattacherjee


Automotive units suspend work in Gurugram, but hopes afloat

The large migrant workforce employed in hundreds of automotive units across Gurugram-Dharuhera-Bhiwadi industrial belt is in a dilemma, whether to return home or stay back after the three Original Equipment Manufacturers – Maruti Suzuki, Hero Motocorp, and Honda Motorcycles & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd (HMSI) – announced a temporary halt of 10-15 days amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and multiple lockdowns across the cities. However, the overwhelming sentiment seems to be to “wait and watch”.

Former Maruti Udyog Kamgaar Union general secretary and workers’ leader Kuldeep Jhangu said the Maruti Suzuki company had advanced its annual maintenance activity during the shutdown and all employees would be paid during this period.

Many automotive companies have advised their workers not to leave the station during the shutdown.

Andhra Pradesh

A.P. receives 82,000 vials of Remdesivir

Andhra Pradesh has received 82,000 vials of Remdesivir injections in the second phase. In the first phase, 60,000 vials were allotted to the State, said the Drug Control Administration (DCA) officials.

“The Remdesivir stock has been allotted for the period between May 1 and 9. So far, the Centre has allotted 1.42 lakh vials of Remdesivir to the State during the second wave of the pandemic,” said DCA Director General (DG) S. Ravi Shankar Narayan.

With the incidents of misuse and black marketing of Remdesivir injections, the State government is supplying the stocks to the notified COVID hospitals and monitoring the stock of Remdesivir and oxygen at various hospitals.


Malaysia reports first case of Indian COVID-19 variant

Malaysia has detected its first case of a highly infectious coronavirus variant first identified in India, Health Minister Adham Baba said on Sunday, days after imposing a ban on flights from India.

The variant, named B.1.617, was detected in an Indian national screened at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, he said.

The World Health Organisation has described it as a "variant of interest", suggesting it may have mutations that would make the virus more transmissible, cause more severe disease or evade vaccine immunity.

"We advise the public to remain calm... All public health efforts will continue in order to break the chain of infection and ensure public safety," Adham said.

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