Coronavirus updates | May 9, 2021

A view of 100-bed Covid isolation facility at Calvary Temple, in Hyderabad on Saturday, May 8, 2021.   | Photo Credit: RAMAKRISHNA G

Delhi and Uttar Pradesh extended their ongoing lockdown till May 17 as a large part of the country remained under strict curbs due to the raging COVID pandemic.  Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Puducherry will also have a two-week shutdown starting Monday.

In the Northeast, Mizoram government has imposed a seven-day complete lockdown from Monday and Sikkim has lockdown-like restrictions till May 16.

Requirement of a positive test for the COVID-19 virus is not mandatory for admission to a COVID-19 health facility and no patient will be refused services on any count, the Health Ministry said on Saturday, announcing the revised national policy for admission to various categories of COVID-19 facilities.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday chaired the 25th meeting of the high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 and reiterated the importance of full protection through two COVID-19 vaccine doses.

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:


Lockdown extended in Delhi, U.P. till May 17

Delhi and Uttar Pradesh on Sunday extended till May 17 their ongoing lockdown and corona curfew respectively as a large part of the country remained under strict curbs due to the raging COVID pandemic with 4,03,738 new cases and 4,092 deaths recorded in a day.

Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Puducherry will also have a two-week shutdown starting Monday, while in Karnataka stringent lockdown-like restrictions will come into effect till May 24 . On Saturday, Kerala came under a nine-day complete lockdown.

In the Northeast, Mizoram government has imposed a seven-day complete lockdown from Monday and Sikkim has lockdown-like restrictions till May 16.


New Delhi

Nirmala says full custom duty exemption available to all COVID relief material

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 9 said GST exemption to domestic supplies and commercial import of COVID-19 drugs, vaccines and oxygen concentrators would make these items costlier for consumers as manufacturers would not be able to offset the taxes paid on inputs.

Earlier in the day Ms. Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider exempting organisations, agencies and individuals supplying equipment and drugs related to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic from customs duty and other Central taxes. — Vikas Dhoot

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New Delhi

If govt. had vaccinated youth in time, many lives could have been saved, says Manish Sisodia

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Sunday attacked the Centre over the export of coronavirus vaccines, saying a large number of lives could have been saved in India if the doses were given to people in the country first.

He said “When the vaccine was developed, we all thought that people would not die and hoped that this would get better soon.”

Mr. Sisodia said “Indian vaccines have been sold to foreign countries when people are dying at home. This is being done by the Modi government to build its image in the world instead of saving people at home. — Nikhil M. Babu

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Uttar Pradesh

Alarmed by deaths of teachers, AMU V-C writes to ICMR for study of COVID variant

Alarmed by deaths in recent days among AMU teachers due to COVID and COVID-like symptoms, Vice-Chancellor Tariq Mansoor wrote to the ICMR on May 9, urging it to study the infection variant circulating around the university campus.

In a letter to the director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the V-C said 16 serving and 18 retired teachers besides other employees of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) have succumbed to the infection in the past 18 days.

There is a possibility that "a particular variant may be circulating in areas around the AMU campus and surrounding localities, which has led to these deaths", he said, stressing the need for the study to control the spread of the virus. — PTI


Role of private doctors crucial in fight against COVID-19: Maharashtra CM

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday stressed on the role of private doctors, specially family physicians, in the fight against COVID-19, saying they can help in early diagnosis of the infection in their patients and facilitate timely treatment for them.

Addressing around 700 private doctors from across the state during a meeting held via video conference, Mr. Thackeray appealed to them to join hands with the state administration to curb spread of the viral infection. — PTI

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Madhya Pradesh

COVID-19 induced curfew extended in Bhopal till May 17

The district administration extended the COVID-19 induced curfew in the Madhya Pradesh capital till May 17, an official said.

The curfew was supposed to be lifted at 6 am on May 10.

Enforced on April 12 given the rise in coronavirus positive cases, the curfew was later extended subsequently after every one week till May 10.

"The corona curfew is extended in the areas under the Bhopal Municipal Corporation and Berasia town till 6 am on May 17 as per the order issued by district collector Avinash Lavaniyam," the official said.

He said essential services and emergency travel are exempted from the purview of the restrictions on the movement of people. — PTI

South Africa

South Africa detects four cases of COVID-19 variant found in India

South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has said that four cases of the Indian variant of coronavirus have been detected in the country, but there was no cause for panic as all such cases were quarantined.

“The four cases of B.1.617.2 [Indian variant of coronavirus] have been detected in Gauteng [2] and KwaZulu-Natal [2] and all have a history of recent arrival from India. All cases have been isolated and managed according to the national COVID-19 case management guidelines and contact tracing has been performed in order to limit the spread of this variant,” Mr. Mkhize said in a statement on May 8.

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Local bodies join hands to build oxygen plant for Kasaragod

To address the growing need for medical oxygen in the wake of the rise in COVID-19 cases, the Kasaragod district administration with the support of local bodies is setting up an oxygen plant in the district.

District Collector D. Sajith Babu told The Hindu that the plant which would be set up on the Chattanchal Industrial Estate would provide 200 oxygen cylinders a day.

He said the plant would be a public sector undertaking managed by the district panchayat.

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New Delhi

Delhi received 499 MT oxygen on May 8 against 700 MT ordered by SC: Raghav Chadha

Delhi received just 499 metric tonnes of oxygen on May 8 against the average supply of 700 MT ordered by the Supreme Court, AAP MLA Raghav Chadha said on May 9.

Over the last week, the city got an average of 533 MT oxygen daily, which is 76% of the quantity directed by the SC.

On May 8, only four healthcare facilities in the national capital, with 1,271 oxygen beds, sent out oxygen shortage SOS calls, the city government said.

The Delhi government supplied 15.50 MT of oxygen to these hospitals, according to official data. — PTI


Nitin Patel recovers from COVID-19, discharged from hospital

Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel on Sunday said he has recovered from COVID-19 infection and got discharged from a hospital, where he was admitted over two weeks back.

Mr Patel, 64, was on April 24 admitted to Ahmedabad's UN Mehta Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre after testing positive for coronavirus.

"After 15 days of treatment at UN Mehta Hospital, I have been discharged today. With the blessings of God and your best wishes, I am recovering fast," Mr Patel, who is also the state Health Minister, said in a post on Twitter.

He said he was thankful to people, doctors and staff members of the hospital for their "best wishes and affection".

"I need more rest as per the advice of the doctors, and hence I request your kind support," Patel added. - PTI


Congress leader Hardik Patel's father dies of COVID-19

Gujarat Congress working president Hardik Patel's father died on Sunday at a hospital in Ahmedabad where he was beingundergoing treatment for COVID-19, a party leader said.

Later, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani spoke to Mr. Patel over phone and conveyed his condolences, a government release said. - PTI

Uttar Pradesh

Oxygen shortage: Some U.P. hospitals consuming several times more than average, says audit

Some hospitals in Uttar Pradesh are consuming oxygen several times higher than the average, the State government said on Sunday based on the preliminary report of an oxygen audit conducted by it.

Taking note of it, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed the health and medical education departments to coordinate with such hospitals and take action to ‘balance’ the consumption. - Omar Rashid

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Tamil Nadu

Ensure effective usage of oxygen, Stalin tells authorities

The Tamil Nadu Cabinet led by Chief Minister M.K. Stalin advised authorities to ensure that medical oxygen supplied to government and private hospitals is being utilised properly and to make sure that it is not wasted as the State is supplying it amidst several constraints.

During the meeting, Mr. Stalin also advised the authorities to increase awareness of the benefits of vaccination and take steps to fully utilise the vaccines available across the State. - T.K. Rohit

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Kerala police crackdown on inessential travel on second-day of lockdown

The State police actively dissuaded inessential travel on the second day of the lockdown on Sunday.

Law enforcers flagged down vehicles and challenged drivers and passengers to state their reason for travel. The clampdown on journeying will continue till May 16. - G. Anand

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West Bengal

Mamata Banerjee urges PM Modi to waive taxes, duties on medical equipments, drugs

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to waive all forms of taxes and customs duty on equipment and drugs being used to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms. Banerjee also urged Modi to strengthen health infrastructure and augment supplies of equipment, medicines and oxygen for treatment of coronavirus-positive patients.

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Jammu and Kashmir

BRO officials cycle 900 kms in Ladakh to create awareness on COVID-19

The Border Roads Organization (BRO) conducted several cycling expeditions over eight days, covering 900 kms, in Ladakh to spread awareness on measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The event was organised as part the "Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav" and its 61st Raising Day.

Such expeditions foster a spirit of adventure, sportsmanship and camaraderie, in addition to reinforcing a connect with the local population, BRO officials said. Members of Project Himank and Project Vijayak carried out these cycling expeditions in Ladakh from April 30 to May 7.

Uttar Pradesh

7 held for selling pneumonia injections as remdesivir

With the arrest of seven persons, the Noida police on Saturday claimed to have busted a gang that sold vials of injections used in pneumonia treatment packaged as remdesivir.

Remdesivir is an antiviral drug that is being used for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Due to its high demand, it is not easily available in the market.

While some of the accused work as nursing staff with hospitals in Delhi-NCR, others are medical representatives of pharmaceutical companies, police said. The accused used their credentials to target gullible people who needed remdesivir injections in hospitals and at pharmacies, they said.

The accused sold a vial between ₹ 40,000 and ₹ 45,000 when it normally does not cost more than ₹ 3,500 depending on the manufacturer, the police said.

New Delhi

Lockdown in Delhi extended by another week

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said the lockdown in the national capital has been extended by another week.

“Cases have come down but we need to extend the lockdown. If we do not, we will lose what we have gained. We need to save lives at this point despite the hardships and will extend it by another week,” said Mr, Kejriwal.

“Because of the lockdown, new cases have started coming down with positivity rate coming below 25% over the past few days.

“We have used the lockdown to improve our health infrastructure. Over the past few days our oxygen situation has also improved and we have improved the system,” he said.

“Vaccine stock is low but we have asked for more vaccines and hopefully the Centre will provide it,” Mr. Kejriwal said, adding that the Metro services will also be shut this week.

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Vaccination for 18-44 age group in govt. hospitals and medical colleges from May 10 in Karnataka

Vaccination for those aged between18 and 44 will be available at all major government hospitals and medical colleges from May 10, Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar announced on May 9.

According to a release, starting May 10, COVID-19 vaccination for the 18 to 44 years age group will be provided at KC General Hospital, Jayanagar General Hospital, Sir C.V. Raman General Hospital, government medical colleges, ESI hospital and NIMHANS in Bengaluru.

In other districts, initially, the vaccination will be provided at district hospitals, government medical colleges and all taluka hospitals. The number of vaccination centres will be increased as and when more vaccines become available, the Minister said.

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Emirates to ship aid for free into India

Dubai's long-haul carrier Emirates will begin shipping aid for free into India to help fight a crushing outbreak of the coronavirus, the airline said Sunday.

The offer by Emirates, which has some 95 flights weekly to nine cities, comes as air freight costs have skyrocketed. That's as air cargo demand has risen to its highest recorded level ever amid the pandemic, which has seen carriers including Emirates fly cargo in otherwise-empty passenger seats.

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Tamil NAdu

NLCIL to set up nine oxygen plants

With a view to augment the supply of medical oxygen, Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) NLC India Ltd. (NLCIL) is in the process of setting up nine Pressure Swing Adsorption Medical Oxygen Plants at its project sites, including Neyveli and Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu, and sites across the country.

Tenders have been floated for the plants and once the process is completed, they will be set up within a month.

The move is in line with the direction of the Union Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi to PSUs under its fold to set up oxygen plants to meet the rise in demand for medical oxygen in hospitals across the country.


Kerala, Karnataka pin hopes on lockdown

Karnataka on Saturday reported 47,563 new cases of COVID-19 and 21,534 were from Bengaluru Urban, while there were 482 more deaths.

The State, with high incidence everyday, had 5,48,841 active patients. The test positivity rate (TPR) for the day stood at 30.28%.

The daily testing level stood at 1,57,027, including 1,46,586 RT-PCR tests.

Kerala’s COVID-19 worries persisted with 41,971 new cases recorded on Saturday from 1,48,546 samples, representing an average TPR of 28.25%. The State had 4,17,101 active cases.

A record number of 64 recent deaths were added to the State toll.

Kerala went into a nine-day lockdown on Saturday bringing normal life to a near standstill.

Tamil Nadu

Bar Council’s plea to Chief Secretary

The Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry has urged Chief Secretary V. Irai Anbu to issue appropriate instructions to the police and make sure that they do not prevent lawyers from visiting courts or their offices during the strict lockdown to be imposed from May 10 to 24. BCTNP chairman P.S. Amalraj said there should not be any hindrance to lawyers since the judiciary and courts had been exempted from the lockdown.


Restrictions extended till May 24

The territorial administration has extended the lockdown restrictions up to May 24 in view of the rise in number of COVID- 19 cases.

Ashok Kumar, Secretary, Revenue, in an order said the restrictions planned earlier up to May 10 had been further extended to May 24.

In a slight modification of the existing restrictions, provision and grocery stores, vegetables, fruits, meat/fish marts and shops selling animal fodder would function only till 12 p.m. Milk parlours, medical shops and shops selling medical equipment would remain open.

New Delhi

Conditions that come with the government’s nod for cash payments for COVID-19 treatment pose a challenge

The conditions set by the government in allowing cash payments over ₹2 lakh for COVID-19 patients’ treatment could make it difficult for people to crowd-fund bill payments. Patients without a PAN card or Aadhaar, as well as those who arrange to pay their treatment costs through cash loans of over ₹2 lakh from a single lender may also face challenges, said tax lawyers.

Section 269ST of the Income Tax Act, introduced after demonetisation, entails a 100% penalty for receipt of all cash payments over ₹2 lakh, but was proving to be a hurdle for several patients’ families as many don’t have access to cashless payment options.

Following a petition filed in the Delhi High Court on Friday that sought a relaxation of the relevant Income Tax law provision amidst the pandemic, the government late on Friday notified changes to permit such cash payments for COVID-19 patients’ treatment till May 31, provided the healthcare provider obtains the PAN or Aadhaar of the patient and the “payee”



ICICI Lombard extends pay to COVID-hit staff

Private sector non-life insurer ICICI Lombard on Saturday said it will give up to two months’ gross salary in advance to all its COVID- positive employees.

The individual can pay back the advance in 6 or 12 monthly instalments at a later date, the insurer said.

The company will also reimburse medical infrastructure support expenses up to a maximum of ₹10,000 per family member, arising from home quarantine in case of infected employees.


Lt. Governor warns people of imposing a lockdown

Lt. Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan warned that a lockdown would be imposed if the people continued to flout guidelines issued to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Union Territory.

Interacting with reporters after distributing free rice under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, launched to mitigate the sufferings of people during the pandemic, on Saturday, Ms. Soundararajan said the administration expected the people to adopt self-discipline and COVID-19 appropriate behaviour to prevent the spread of the virus.


Dharwad may see shortage of medical oxygen

Dharwad district may be looking at a shortage of medical oxygen in the next couple of days if the allocation is not increased in accordance with the number of patients from north Karnataka pouring into the district for advanced treatment.

The Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) and Hospital is the preferred choice for most patients. Private multi-speciality hospitals are also another reason for the increased inflow to Hubballi. This seems to be the likely cause of shortage of medical oxygen in the coming days.

Dharwad currently needs 45 tonnes of medical oxygen daily and is able to manage the active cases at present. However in the likelihood of more cases with oxygen requirement, it would be difficult to manage it, said another source.

Makeshift hospitals coming up in the district and additional beds being provided in other government hospitals are likely to further increase the demand for more oxygen.

New Delhi

Anti-COVID-19 drug developed by DRDO gets emergency use nod

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has granted permission for emergency use of an anti-COVID-19 therapeutic application of the drug 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG), developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a lab of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in collaboration with Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Hyderabad.

In a release issued on Saturday, the Ministry of Defence said that as per the order, emergency use of this drug as adjunct therapy in moderate to severe COVID-19 patients is permitted. It added that being a generic molecule and analogue of glucose, it can be easily produced and made available in plenty in the country.

The drug comes in powder form in sachets and is taken orally by dissolving it in water. It accumulates in the virus infected cells and prevents their growth by stopping viral synthesis and energy production. Its selective accumulation in virally infected cells makes this drug unique.


Recovery rate plummets to 70% in Karnataka

Although COVID-19 patients are discharged from hospitals on the fourth or fifth day if they develop clinical stability, the State’s recovery rate has reduced considerably in the last one month.

From 98.1% on February 28, recovery rate reduced by over 1% to touch 97.8% on March 15. Subsequently, it further dipped to 96.3% by March 30 and 90.1% in mid-April. In the next 15 days, the recovery rate saw a drastic reduction to touch 73.9% on April 30. As of Saturday (May 8), the recovery rate has touched 69.9%.

Among the districts, Gadag and Chitradurga have the highest recovery rate at 91.76% and 90.51% respectively. Kodagu and Bengaluru Urban have the lowest at 61.14% and 61.69% respectively as of May 6.

Karnataka’s COVID-19 situation had witnessed a steady improvement since September with a healthy recovery rate of 90.7% till October-end.

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