Coronavirus updates | April 17, 2021

A worker checks oxygen cylinder, which is used for Covid-19 patients at PMCH, amid rising coronavirus cases across the country, in Patna, Friday, April. 16, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

India continues to lead the world in terms of average daily cases detected. As of April 15, India recorded 1,75,910 daily cases on an average. With 70,483 average daily cases, the U.S. was a distant second followed by Brazil with 66,689 average new cases. However, in terms of average daily deaths, India (952) was second to Brazil (2917).

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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

Kiren Rijiju tests positive

Union Sports Minister tweeted saying "After getting repeated test for Covid-19, today my report has come out positive. I'm taking the advice of the Doctors. I request all those who have come in my contact recently to be observant, exercise self-quarantine and get themselves tested. I'm physically fit and fine."

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Madhya Pradesh directs devotees returning from Kumbh to isolate themselves

Those returning from the ongoing Kumbh Mela at Haridwar should isolate themselves, the Madhya Pradesh government said.

The Kumbh, which is attended by lakhs of devotees, has drawn flak this time as it is being held in the middle of an alarming surge in coronavirus cases in the country.

District administrations should collect information about those returning to the State after taking part in the Kumbh and ensure that they "self-isolate or are quarantined", said an order issued by Madhya Pradesh Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Rajesh Rajora.

District officials should also provide a dedicated phone number where people can give information about pilgrims returning from the Kumbh, the order said


Remdesivir injections 'stolen' from government hospital

As many as 860 injections of Remdesivir drug, which is in high demand for treating COVID-19 patients, were found "stolen" from the stock of the government-run Hamidia Hospital in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh today, police said.

An official said that an internal sabotage cannot be ruled out behind the incident.

New Delhi

Harsh Vardhan reassures Maharashtra CM of adequate supply of medical oxygen

Amid a surge in coronavirus infections, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan spoke to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and reassured him of adequate and uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen and all possible support related to healthcare infrastructure, medicines and therapeutics.

In a tweet, Mr. Vardhan said additional 1,121 ventilators are being rushed to the State considering the surge in coronavirus cases.


Partial lockdown in Indore district extended till April 23

The administration in Madhya Pradesh's Indore district has extended the partial lockdown it had imposed in light of the COVID-19 spread till April 23.

The partial lockdown has been in effect in the district since April 12.

New Delhi

Delhi government to add 6,000 Covid beds to its tally

Over the coming days, the Delhi government will add around 6,000 COVID beds to the existing ones, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.

"I have spoken to Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan about the paucity of beds, lack of oxygen and essential medicines in the Capital and requested help," Mr. Kejriwal said.

"We were forced to implement the weekend curfew. We are monitoring the situation and will take whatever step is necessary to save citizens' lives over the coming days," he added.


Pharma companies slash prices of Remdesivir injections

Prices of the Remdesivir injection have been voluntarily reduced by pharma companies, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority said. Consequently, Cipla's branded product will now cost Rs 3,000 per vial instead of Rs 4,000, Cadila Healthcare to charge Rs 899 instead of Rs 2,800, Dr Reddy's Laboratories' product to cost Rs 2,700 instead of Rs 5,400 and Mylan Pharma's product will cost Rs 3,400 instead of Rs 4,800.

The NPPA said these price cuts were made on the government’s intervention as part of the ongoing efforts to enhance availability and affordability of the Remdesivir injection. Other suppliers cutting prices include – Hetero Healthcare (Rs 3,490 from Rs 5,400), Jubilant Generics (Rs 3,400 from Rs 4,700) and Biocon Biologics India (Rs 2,450 from Rs 3,950)


Health official's office filled with COVID-19 vaccines catches fire in Bengal

A fire broke out at the office of a health official today morning at Barasat in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district, where a large stock of COVID-19 vaccines was stored.

The blaze erupted inside the office of the Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health, a senior official said.

At least 12 fire tenders managed to douse the flames after four hours, he said, adding, there were no reports of any injury.


Maharashtra restrictions could be extended beyond May 1: Tope

The 'break the chain' restrictions in place in Maharashtra to tackle the surge in coronavirus cases may be extended beyond May 1 depending on the outbreak situation, state health minister Rajesh Tope said on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters in Jalna, over 400 kilometres from here, Tope said people have been supportive of the restrictions, though some violations of prohibitory rules under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) have also been reported.

"We are taking stock of the situation. There have been some violations of CrPC section 144 invoked to curb the COVID-19 spread. We may extend these restrictions beyond May 1, depending on the situation. A decision will be finalized only after reviewing the outcome of these 15 days (when the restrictions will be in place)." "I must admit people have been supportive of the restrictions," the minister, who has been insisting on strict measures and restriction on the movement of people to contain the outbreak, said.

The state government on April 14 announced several restrictions under a 'break the chain' initiative to rein in what is currently the severest spike in COVID-19 cases anywhere in the country.

-- PTI

New Delhi

Hospitals turning away COVID patients despite bed availability will face action: Sisodia

Hospitals giving wrong information or turning away COVID-19 patients despite beds being available will face action, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Saturday.

Mr. Sisodia, who is also the nodal minister of the Delhi government for COVID-19, said no patient should be denied treatment.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal reviewed the COVID-19 situation along with Mr. Sisodia, Health minister Satyendar Jain and top officials.

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Global COVID-19 death toll

Worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops a staggering 3 million

The global death toll from the coronavirus topped a staggering 3 million people on April 17 amid repeated setbacks in the worldwide vaccination campaign and a deepening crisis in places such as Brazil, India and France.

The number of lives lost, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; or metropolitan Lisbon, Portugal. It is bigger than Chicago (2.7 million) and equivalent to Philadelphia and Dallas combined.

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New Delhi

Not wearing masks on railway premises now punishable under Railway Act, fine up to ₹500

Not wearing masks on railway premises and in trains can attract a fine of up to ₹500, with the national transporter now incorporating it as an offence under the Railway Act, according to an order issued on Saturday.

This is the latest in a slew of measures that the railways has taken to ensure compliance of the various COVID-19 protocols issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Affairs to restrict the spread of the virus. "One of the specific guideline is to wear masks in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for movement of trains as brought out by Indian Railways on May 11, 2020, says that it should be advised to all passengers that they shall be wearing face cover/ mask at entry and during travel," order issued by the railways said. — PTI

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Jammu and Kashmir

Panel set up to ensure adequate, timely supply of medical oxygen to hospitals in J&K

Jammu and Kashmir administration on April 17 constituted a committee to ensure adequate and timely supply of medical oxygen to all hospitals to meet the requirements of COVID-19 patients, an official order said.

The committee would be headed by the Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce department, the order issued by Manoj Kumar Dwivedi, Commissioner Secretary, General Administration Department, said.

The committee has been asked to meet frequently and make necessary arrangements for ensuring regular and adequate supply of medical oxygen to all hospitals to meet any current and future needs, it said. The other terms of the reference, include ensuring adequate stocking of medical oxygen, wherever necessary, the order said. — PTI

New Delhi

Delhi govt deputes bureaucrats in private hospitals for better COVID management

Seeking better COVID-19 management, the Delhi government has deputed bureaucrats in private hospitals too in view of the raging pandemic in the city, officials said.

A total of 10 IAS officers have already been appointed nodal officers at various COVID hospitals of the Delhi government.

"About 15 DANICS officers have been posted in private hospitals across Delhi to handhold the management and oversee adherence of all COVID measures," the health department said in a statement. — PTI


Centre asked export companies not to supply Remdesivir to Maha, alleges NCP minister, BJP hits back

NCP leader and Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik alleged that the Central government has asked export companies not to supply Remdesivir medicine to the State.

He also said that the BJP, which is in power at the Centre, was more interested in winning elections than tackling the coronavirus crisis.

The BJP hit back saying that Mr. Malik should either give proof or apologise for levelling "false" and "baseless" allegations, and said he should step down from the post. — PTI

New Delhi

U.S. ban on export of vaccine material hampering production in India: CPI(M)

The CPI(M) urged the U.S. to lift its ban on the export of vaccine material, alleging that it has hampered the production of vaccines in India due to a shortage of such materials.

"The scaling up of vaccine production in India is being hampered by the shortage of the intermediate material required for vaccine production. Much of this material such as filters, solutions and plastic bags come from the United States. But the U.S. administration has banned the export of vaccine material under its Defence Production Act.

"Despite requests by the Indian authorities, no relaxation or exemption has been given for the export of these items. The biggest vaccine manufacturer in the country, the Serum Institute of India, has been drawing attention to this problem for quite some time," it said. — PTI

Jammu and Kashmir

Ceiling on social gatherings restricted to 100 in J&K

Concerned over the spike in coronavirus cases, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Saturday restricted the ceiling on social gatherings to 100 people and also announced the postponement of Class 11 examination.

The latest directive comes two days after Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha-led administration deferred biannual 'darbar move' to Srinagar, extended closure of all schools up to and including Class 12 till April 30 along with private coaching centres. It also cancelled the ongoing Class 10 examination being conducted by the Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (JKBOSE).

“In view of #COVID-19, class 11th exams have been postponed. There will also be ceiling on gatherings and functions restricting to 100 persons from earlier 200,” the office of the Lt. Governor said in a tweet. — PTI

New Delhi

COVID-19 vaccines don't stop one from getting infected, but help in reducing severity: Health economist

COVID-19 vaccines do not stop one from getting infected but instead help in curing the disease faster and reducing its severity, said health and development economist Professor Anup Malani.

Mr. Malani, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School and the university's Pritzker School of Medicine, has been leading a series of COVID-19 serosurveys in cities and states across India with economic development-focused think-tank IDFC.

In an interview with PTI, Professor Malani said, "I fear this is the biggest misunderstanding around India and even in other countries today. Previous infection and vaccines do not stop you from being infected. That was never how immunity worked. Instead, natural and vaccine-acquired immunity is helpful because it helps you clear the infection faster once you are infected." "This has two benefits – it helps you avoid death or other serious health harm from the infection, and it helps reduce the probability you will infect someone else. So it is possible to be reinfected, but the harms of the infection will be lower," he said. — PTI


Sonia calls for reducing immunisation age to 25

Congress president Sonia Gandhi at an address to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) has said that the government must reconsider its priority for vaccine candidates by reducing the immunisation age to 25 years and above especially for those in this age group with comorbidities.

The CWC met on Saturday to discuss the ongoing COVID-19 situation in the country.— Sobhana K. Nair


Sonu Sood tests positive for COVID-19, days after receiving vaccine

Actor Sonu Sood said he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently under quarantine, nearly ten days after receiving the vaccine.

The actor was recently made the brand ambassador for Punjab's anti-coronavirus vaccination programme. Mr. Sood had also met Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, on April 10.

"This is to inform you that I have tested positive this morning for COVID-19. As a part of precautions, I have already quarantined myself and taking utmost care.

"But don't worry, this gives me ample time to solve your problems. Remember, I'm always there for you all," Mr. Sood tweeted. — PTI


Centre to depute 25 doctors, 75 paramedics from paramilitary forces in Gujarat

The Centre on April 17 decided to depute 25 doctors and 75 paramedics from the paramilitary forces at an upcoming 900-bed COVID hospital being set up by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad, officials said.

Gujarat is one of the States from where a high number of COVID-19 cases are being reported during the second wave of the pandemic. — PTI

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New Delhi

Ten States/UTs account for 79.32% of new COVID-19 cases: Health Ministry

Ten States and Union Territories, including Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, account for 79.32% of the new coronavirus cases in the country, the Health Ministry said on Saturday.

It said Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 63,729. It is followed by Uttar Pradesh with 27,360, and Delhi with 19,486 fresh cases.

Ten States — Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan — report 79.32% of the new cases, the Ministry said.

Sixteen States and UTs — Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kerala, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal — are displaying an upward trajectory in daily new cases, it said The Ministry said five States — Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala — cumulatively account for 65.02% of India's total active cases. Maharashtra alone accounts for 38.09% of the total active caseload of the country. — PTI


All-party meet in Bihar today, Assembly Secretariat shut after 44 staff test positive

As the COVID-19 positive cases continue to surge in Bihar, an all-party virtual meeting called by Governor Phagu Chauhan is under way on Saturday to review the situation and take suggestions from all political parties.

Meanwhile, the State Assembly Secretariat was shut with as many as 44 staff tested COVID-19 positive in the last three days. Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha has ordered complete closure of Assembly Secretariat till April 25.

On Friday, the State government ordered the closure of gyms, sports complexes and museums till May 15 in view of the surging pandemic cases.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar too held a high-level meeting on Friday to review the steps taken so far to check the spread of the infection in the State. - Amarnath Tewary

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JDS leader H.D. Kumaraswamy tests COVID-19 positive

Janata Dal (Secular) leader and former Chief Minister of Karnataka H.D. Kumaraswamy has tested positive for COVID-19.

His mother Chennamma Devegowda had earlier tested positive and his father H.D. Devegowda too was in isolation for sometime as a precaution.

On Friday, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa tested positive for COVID-19. - Special Correspondent

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Congress top brass meets virtually to discuss COVID-19 situation in country

Amid a steep rise in coronavirus cases, the Congress' top brass met virtually on Saturday and began deliberations on the steps needed to deal with the COVID-19 situation in the country.

The Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, was attended by former party chief Rahul Gandhi, general secretaries, other permanent invitees and state in-charges of the party.

The CWC is discussing the current COVID-19 situation in the country and steps that need to be taken urgently to check the further spread of the virus. - PTI


Active cases in the country surpasses 16-lakh mark

A record single-day rise of 2,34,692 cases and 1,341 fatalities have pushed India's COVID-19 tally to 1,45,26,609 and the death toll due to the viral disease to 1,75,649, the health ministry said on Saturday, April 17, 2021.

The number of active coronavirus cases in the country has surpassed the 16-lakh mark, the ministry's data updated at 8 am showed.

Registering a steady increase for the 38th day in a row, the tally of active COVID-19 cases has climbed to 16,79,740 in the country, accounting for 11.56 per cent of its total caseload, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has dropped to 87.23 per cent.

The number of people who have recuperated from the disease has gone up to 1,26,71,220, while the case fatality rate has further dropped to 1.21 per cent, the data stated.


Odisha CM wants vaccine in open market

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that COVID-19 vaccines be made available outside the government supply chain in the open market so that willing citizens who can afford vaccines can avail them.

Mr. Patnaik suggested rationalisation in vaccine distribution with a focus on metropolitans who contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the country and cautioned against lockdown in big cities that would have a cascading impact on other areas.

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PM Modi seeks curtailment of Kumbh Mela

As COVID-19 cases in the country topped over 2.3 lakh cases on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought a curtailment of the Kumbh Mela under way in Haridwar, suggesting to ‘akharas’ (congregations of Hindu seers) that the event be concluded with symbolic rituals.

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Manipur clamps night curfew till April 30

The Manipur government has clamped night curfew effective from Friday night in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases in the State. The order issued by Chief Secretary Rajesh Kumar said that essential services would be exempted from the curfew which will remain in force from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. till April 30.

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Bharat Biotech to make 6 crore Covaxin doses by July

The production of indigenously developed Covaxin vaccine will be doubled by May-June and then increased nearly 6-7 fold by July-August 2021. Bharat Biotech makes 1 crore doses a month now. Production may reach nearly 10 crore doses a month by September, the Department of Biotechnology said on Friday.

The DBT has funded three state-run facilities — the Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, Mumbai; Indian Immunologicals Limited, Hyderabad and Biologicals Limited, Bulandsh-ahr — to make vaccines. Haffkine has been given ₹65 crore but it will take anywhere between 6-12 months to be able to produce the vaccine; the other two facilities are expected to begin producing 10-15 million doses a month by August

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Vaccine research

Researchers propose method to treat rare blood clotting reaction to vaccine

The U.S. on April 13 paused the use of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine following adverse reactions in a few vaccinated persons while investigations are on to understand the mechanism of the rare reaction better. This followed the fact that six people in about 7 million vaccinated with J&J’s vaccine developed blood clots in the days following vaccination.

A similar adverse reaction to AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been observed in rare cases. In this situation, a German and Austrian group, led by Andreas Greinacher of University Medicine Greifswald, in Germany, has announced a partial understanding of this mechanism and a possible method of treatment.

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Tamil Nadu

Several districts face vaccine shortage in Tamil Nadu

A shortage of COVID-19 vaccines was reported from a number of districts across Tamil Nadu. While a few districts have already run out of Covaxin, the available stocks of Covishield will last only a few days in a number of districts.

Many districts were looking for fresh supplies to continue vaccination. The surge in cases has led to an increase in demand for the vaccines, resulting in quick depletion of the stocks, a section of health officials

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Migrants leaving city in hordes, but not due to lockdown fears

Despite the Delhi government announcing weekend lockdown, migrant workers in the Capital appear not to be leaving the city yet, though they’re gathering at transport hubs in hordes. Most migrant workers The Hindu spoke to at Anand Vihar ISBT said they are going home for reasons other than lockdown fear and plan to return.

Some, however, were scared that the weekend lockdown might extend. Vir Singh (33) from Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun, sat with his wife, children and other family members with eight pieces of luggage and said he was scared if the lockdown will extend. However, they will come back if the lockdown is not announced, he said.

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Yediyurappa met hundreds of people since April 14

The news of Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa testing positive for COVID-19 again has created a scare among the political and bureaucratic circles as he had attended an official meeting on Friday and a slew of political rallies in bypoll-bound Belagavi on Wednesday and Thursday.

On Friday morning, just before he was confimed COVID-19 positive, he had chaired a meeting on COVID-19 with senior officers and Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar.

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Pandemic study

‘Adolescent girls face more pressure during pandemic’

Twenty five girls from seven cities set out to interview their peers to record the impact of COVID-19 on their lives and found that adolescent girls were grappling with an increased pressure to get married, spent longer hours on household chores, lacked tools to continue school education online, and reported an increase in gender-based violence.

(With inputs from our Correspondents and agencies)

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