Coronavirus updates | April 18, 2021

A COVID-19 isolation centre, in Surat.   | Photo Credit: PTI

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

And the true number is believed to be significantly higher because of possible government concealment and the many cases overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019.

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

Delhi govt. initiates legal action against two hospitals for turning away COVID patients

The Delhi government on Sunday initiated legal action against two city hospitals for turning away COVID-19 patients, a day after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned them of strict action if found giving wrong information about availability of beds.

The Delhi government has sought legal action against two hospitals, one in south Delhi and another in Janakpuri, for putting out wrong information on availability of COVID beds on the Delhi Corona app, an official statement said.  "The hospitals put out information saying that they have COVID beds available but later denied patients, saying no beds were available," it stated.

Complaints for filing FIRs against the hospitals under the Disaster Management Act have been lodged at concerned police stations, a government official said.


Tamil Nadu

Night ‘curfew’, Sunday lockdown in Tamil Nadu from April 20

In a bid to curtail the spread of COVID-19, the Tamil Nadu government has announced restrictions from April 20 including a night ‘curfew’ between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. and a complete lockdown on all Sundays.

After a review meeting chaired by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, the government on Sunday announced that access to beaches, zoos, parks, museums and all tourist spots will be banned on all days. The government also postponed Class 12 State Board examinations, without specifying a date, while allowing the practical examinations to proceed as scheduled.

During the night ‘curfew’, private and public transport, auto rickshaws, taxis and private vehicles will not be allowed to operate. However, vehicles for medical emergencies, auto rickshaws, taxis and private vehicles for transport to hospitals, airports and railway stations will be allowed during the night curfew. Apart from these, vehicles for essentials such as milk and newspaper delivery, medical services, pharmacies, ambulances and mortuary vans, vehicles carrying commodities and fuel will be allowed to operate. Fuel outlets will be allowed to function as usual.

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No COVID-19 patient in Maharashtra died due to oxygen shortage: Tope

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Sunday said that no COVID-19 patient died in the state-run hospitals due to the shortage of medical oxygen.

He also said most of the COVID-19 fatalities have occurred due to the delay on part of patients in seeking proper medical treatment.

Tope termed "false" the media reports that the shortage of medical oxygen resulted in the death of COVID-19 patients in some parts of the state.

"I have received reports from (government) hospitals in the state. No COVID-19 patient died due to the shortage of oxygen in these hospitals," he told reporters. -PTI


Night curfew imposed in Bihar; all schools, colleges, gyms, parks closed till May 15

After a marathon four-hour meeting with district magistrates and top officials on Sunday after an all-party meeting on Saturday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced night curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. across the State and closure of schools, colleges, cinema halls, parks, religious places and swimming pools till May 15.

“After a long meeting today with officials, the crisis management group decided to impose night curfew in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases,” Mr. Kumar told media persons, adding, “We’ll keep monitoring the situation to take our next course of action.”

Earlier on Saturday, a virtual all-party meeting was convened by Governor Phagu Chauhan on the pandemic.

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New Delhi

Delhi govt. issues guidelines for gated residential complexes to set up COVID facilities

The Delhi government issued guidelines on Sunday for gated residential complexes to set up COVID facilities amid alarming surge in coronavirus cases.

The Directorate General of Health Services also issued guidelines for the resident welfare associations (RWAs), residential societies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in prevention and control of COVID-19 transmission in gated residential complexes.

It said the COVID care facility would be set up using the resources of the RWAs/residential societies/NGOs and would be a dedicated health facility for management of suspected, asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic or very mild cases residing in that particular residential facility.

"No intermixing of suspect and confirmed cases shall be allowed," it said in the order.


New Delhi

Railways to run 'Oxygen Express' to meet high demand amid surge in COVID-19 cases

The Railways will run 'Oxygen Express' over the next few days to transport liquid medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders across the country, the national transporter said on Sunday.

Amid spiralling coronavirus cases in the country, the demand for medical oxygen in the country has gone through the roof.

Empty tankers will begin their journey from Kalamboli and Boisar railway stations in and near Mumbai on Monday to load liquid medical oxygen Vishakhapatnam, Jamshedpur, Rourkela and Bokaro, officials said.

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New Delhi

50 isolation coaches, each with 2 oxygen cylinders, placed at Delhi's Shakur Basti rail station

The Northern Railways has deployed 50 isolation coaches, each having two oxygen cylinders, at Delhi's Shakur Basti railway station and 25 such facilities will be placed at Anand Vihar by Monday, General Manager Ashutosh Gangal said on Sunday.

The move came after the Delhi government requested the national transporter to arrange up to 5,000 beds in view of the rising coronavirus cases in the national capital.

These coaches modified for coronavirus patients have been divided into eight bays or 'cabins' with each having 16 beds. Mosquito nets, bio-toilets, power sockets and oxygen cylinders are available at the coaches. Also, space has been created to hold IV-fluid bottles.

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Bed requirement for COVID-19 patients more than our capacity: Gujarat Dy. CM

Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel on Sunday admitted that the present requirement of beds and other healthcare facilities in the wake of the spike in coronavirus cases is more than the state administrations's capacity.

Mr. Patel, who handles health portfolio, said though the State government is adding more facilities and beds at regular intervals to accomodate more patients, it fell short of demand.

"Over 9,000 new coronavirus cases are emerging in Gujarat everyday. Though we are adding new facilities and beds at regular intervals, it falls short against the demand as the inflow of coronavirus patients is much higher," Mr. Patel told reporters at civil hospital campus.

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New Delhi

Manmohan Singh writes to PM Modi, stresses vaccination key to battling pandemic

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on April 18 wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the COVID-19 crisis, stressing that ramping up vaccination was the key to battling the pandemic.

In a letter to PM Modi, the veteran Congress leader said one must not look at absolute numbers but the total percentage of population vaccinated.

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New Delhi

Over 12 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in 92 days in India

India took only 92 days to reach the mark of 12-crore vaccinations, the fastest country to do so, the Union Health Ministry said on Sunday.

It is followed by the U.S. which took 97 days and China which took 108 days.

The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed 12 crore as part of the world’s largest vaccination drive, it said.

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Date | Time

Centre writes to Ministries to carve out COVID-19 blocks in hospitals

The Centre has asked hospitals affiliated to public sector units and Central Ministries to set up dedicated blocks — or even exclusive hospitals — to administer to COVID-19 patients.

“The need of the hour is to prioritise and systematise all our combined efforts towards effective management and ensure availability of sufficient healthcare infrastructure in the States to meet increased demand for providing treatment,” said Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in a letter to several Ministries including Defence, Railways, Atomic Energy, Shipping and Education.

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Tamil Nadu

DMK president Stalin writes to Modi for universal vaccination for COIVID-19

DMK president M.K. Stalin on Sunday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a policy decision swiftly for universal vaccination and help Tamil Nadu tide over the present COVID-19 pandemic situation and ensure total protection for the people of the state.

In a letter in which the DMK MPs also signed, Mr Stalin said it was equally important to allow independent procurement of drugs, vaccines and medical equipment by state governments as the pandemic affected states could not wait every time for Centre’s nod to save the human lives.

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MLC K. Harish Kumar tests positive for COVID-19

The MLC and president of Daskhina Kannada Congress Committee K. Harish Kumar has tested positive for COVID-19 and is being treated at a private hospital in the city.

Mr. Kumar told The Hindu that he developed diarrhea while on the election campaign in North Karnataka and had got himself tested for COVID-19 in Bidar on April 12, which turned out to be negative

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Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh receives two lakh more vaccines

With the sharp rise in the incidence of COVID infections, the State is going to conduct a special drive to vaccinate all the Frontline Workers (FLWs) and Healthcare Workers (HCWs) in the coming few days starting from April 19 as per the instructions of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy said Andhra Pradesh Covid nodal officer Arja Srikanth.

Meanwhile, the state received two lakh more Covishield doses on Sunday in addition to the six lakh doses received on Saturday.

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New Delhi

Second COVID-19 wave could spark greater uncertainty: NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman

The country needs to prepare for "greater uncertainty" in terms of consumer as well as investor sentiments due to the second wave of coronavirus infections, and the government will respond with fiscal measures as and when required, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said on April 18.

While acknowledging that the present situation has become far more difficult than it was in the past due to rising coronavirus infections, Mr. Kumar remained hopeful that the country's economy will grow 11% in the current fiscal ending March 31, 2022.

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Thrissur, Kerala

COVID-19 threat looming large over Thrissur Pooram

The escalating cases of COVID-19 in the second wave of the pandemic have been casting shadow over Thrissur Pooram,  the mother of all poorams.

The positivity rate in Thrissur has been increasing rapidly. The current rate is 19.24 with 1,149 cases reported on a single day on April 18. The rate, which had increased to more than 22 in the months of October and November in 2020, was brought to 1.7 by the end of March, 2021.

“The rate has been increasing very fast in the district. Violation of COVID-19 protocols during the election campaign had contributed to the increase. Unlike during the first wave, this time, many of the COVID-19 patients  are developing breathlessness and had to be admitted in the ICU or put under ventilator support,” said DMO Dr. K.J. Reena. She urged the people to maintain COVID-19 protocols  and take vaccines as early as possible.


KTU exams postponed

Kerala University and APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University (KTU) has also decided to postpone all of its ongoing examinations in view of the worsening COVID-19 situation.

KTU, which has 139 affiliating engineering colleges spread across Kerala, had remained firm on its decision to persist with the existing schedule until a day ago. The move to defer its examinations came comes on the basis of a direction by the Chancellor amid growing clamour for postponing the examinations.

While its third-semester B.Tech. examinations had commenced on April 15, the first-semester B.Tech. examinations were scheduled to get underway on April 19. Postgraduate examinations including those of M.Tech., M.Arch. and M.Plan. were also set to commence on April 27. The Syndicate which is expected to meet during the first week of May is likely to decide on a fresh schedule. Kerala University has tentatively decided to resume its examinations on May 10.

Thrissur, Kerala

KUHS postpones exams

The Kerala University of Health Sciences (KUHS) has postponed all theory and practical examinations, scheduled to be held from April 19, until further notice, according to the KUHS press release.

Kottayam, Kerala

Mahatma Gandhi University puts off exams

All examinations of Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, scheduled to be held from April 19 onward, have been postponed until further notice, according to a communication from the varsity

Kalady, Kerala

Sree Sankaracharya University exams postponed

All examinations of Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, scheduled from April 19 have been postponed until further notice.

Students are requested to check the University website ( regularly for updates, according to a communication from the varsity.

Kozhikode, Kerala

Calicut University puts off all exams

Calicut University has postponed all exams scheduled to be held from April 19 in view of the "acute and rapid increase of COVID-19 pandemic".

A release by the Controller of Examinations on April 18 said this followed a direction by the Governor, who is also the Chancellor of the University. Revised schedule of exams will be announced later, the release added.

New Delhi

Delhi has less than 100 ICU beds left, says CM Kejriwal

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said that the COVID-19 situation in Delhi was worrisome as the positivity rate in the past 24 hours had reached 30% from 24.56% the previous day and that there was a shortage of ICU beds and oxygen.

In a digital address, he said that there were less than 100 ICU beds left in Delhi and there was a shortage of oxygen. “We have asked the Central government for help and we are receiving it as well. I have spoken to Home Minister Amit Shah and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan about the need for more beds in Central government hospitals and oxygen for COVID-19 patients” Mr. Kejriwal said.

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Madhya Pradesh

6 COVID-19 patients die due to low pressure oxygen in Madhya Pradesh hospital

At least six COVID-19 patients died in the ICU of a government hospital in Madhya Pradesh’s Shahdol due to low pressure in medical oxygen supply, an official said on Sunday.

The incident took place at the Government Medical College Hospital in Shahdol on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday.

“Out of 62 patients admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ward of the medical college’s COVID-19 centre, six patients died due to low pressure of liquid oxygen late last night,” the facility’s dean, Dr. Milind Shiralkar, said. The other critical patients are safe, he said. — PTI

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New Delhi

Oxygen production for COVID-19 management being doubled, says Harsh Vardhan

Amidst heightened demand for medical-grade oxygen, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that the production was being doubled.

The government had sanctioned 162 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) plants of which 33 had been installed. Five of them were installed in Madhya Pradesh, four in Maharashtra, three each in Chandigarh, Gujarat and Uttarakhand, two each in Bihar, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra, Puducherry, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

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Superintendent of Bihar’s COVID-19 dedicated hospital writes to govt. to relieve him

A senior doctor and Superintendent of Bihar’s COVID-19 dedicated Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH) has written to the government to relieve him from the post due to lack of oxygen supply in the hospital which has put the lives of dozens of patients in danger.

After an all-party meeting with the Governor on Saturday, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is scheduled to hold discussions with District Magistrates and top officials on Sunday in view of the surge in the pandemic cases.

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New Delhi

Declare a national health emergency: Sibal to PM

Amid a steep rise in coronavirus cases, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare a national health emergency.

The former Union Minister also called on the Election Commission to declare a moratorium on election rallies in view of the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.

"COVID-19 infections faster than recoveries. Modiji: Declare a National Health Emergency. Election Commission: Declare a moratorium on election rallies. Courts: Protect people’s lives," Mr. Sibal tweeted. — PTI

New Dellhi

Mandatory 14-day quarantine for Delhi residents returning from Kumbh Mela

Delhi residents who have visited the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar or are planning to do so will have to undergo compulsory 14-day home quarantine on their return and upload their details on an official website, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority said in an order.

The ongoing Kumbh Mela has been at the centre of controversy amid fears that it could be a superspreader event with lakhs of devotees attending the event as the second wave of the coronavirus surges uncontrollably. — PTI

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Mandatory tests, 14-day quarantine for Kumbh Mela returnees in Odisha

The Odisha government on Saturday said all returnees from the Kumbh Mela will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine period, apart from RT-PCR tests before setting foot in the state, in an effort to rein in the spread of COVID-19.

The quarantine can be completed at home or temporary medical camps (TMC), Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Jena said in an order. — PTI

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JEE-Mains postponed

Engineering entrance exam JEE-Mains scheduled to be held from April 27-30 has been postponed in view of the COVID-19 situation, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' announced on Sunday.

"Given the current #covid19 situation, I have advised @DG_NTA to postpone the JEE (Main) – 2021 April Session. I would like to reiterate that safety of our students & their academic career are @EduMinOfIndia's and my prime concerns right now," Mr. Nishank tweeted.

According to an official order by the National Testing Agency (NTA), "looking at the present situation of COVID-19 pandemic and also taking into account the safety and well being of candidates and examination functionaries, it has been decided to postpone JEE-(Main) April session".

"The revised dates will be announced later on and at least 15 days before the examination," the order said.

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Andhra Pradesh

Vizianagaram DSP died of COVID

Vizianagaram DSP (CCS) J. Paparao died of COVID-19 in the early hours of Sunday.

He was suffering from fever for over a week and was admitted to a private hospital for treatment.

The tests showed he was infected by coronavirus and doctors tried in vain to save him. Paparao was a native of Srikakulam and is survived by wife and two kids.

Vizianagaram SP B. Rajkumari recalled his services to the department and told the police officers and staff to be cautious while discharging their duties.

Central Crime Station (CCS) officials were shocked by the sudden demise of their senior colleague.


Arjun Rampal, Neil Nitin Mukesh test positive for COVID-19

Actors Arjun Rampal and Neil Nitin Mukesh have tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently under home quarantine.

Both Rampal and Mukesh took to their respective social media pages to inform fans about their diagnosis. Sharing a note late Friday, 48-year-old Rampal said though he was "asymptomatic", he was getting the necessary medical care. - PTI


PM Modi to chair meeting to review COVID situation in Varanasi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a meeting on Sunday to review the COVID-19 situation in Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency. 

"At 11 a.m., Prime Minister @narendramodi will be chairing a meeting to review the COVID-19 situation in Varanasi. The meeting will be attended by top officials, local administration and doctors who are involved in fighting COVID in Varanasi," his office said.

The holy city has also witnessed a surge in COVID-19 cases like other major urban centres of Uttar Pradesh. - PTI


India records highest single-day rise of 2,61,500 cases, 1,501 deaths

On Charlie Chaplin's birthday, a man dresses up as Chaplin in a bid to spread awareness about wearing a mask. Photograph taken on Western Express Highway in Mumbai.

On Charlie Chaplin's birthday, a man dresses up as Chaplin in a bid to spread awareness about wearing a mask. Photograph taken on Western Express Highway in Mumbai.   | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI


A record single-day rise of 2,61,500 coronavirus infections has taken India's total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,47,88,109, while active cases have surpassed the 18-lakh mark, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.

The death toll increased to 1,77,150 with a record 1,501 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.

Registering a steady increase for the 39th day in a row, the active cases stand at 18,01,316, comprising 12.18% of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has dropped to 86.62%, the ministry said. - PTI


Mumbai cops grill pharma director over ‘excess’ Remdesivir stock; BJP fumes

Mumbai police questioned a pharma company director over alleged excess stock of the Remdesivir drug and allowed him to leave after he produced necessary documents, a police official said on Sunday.

“He had stocked at least 60,000 vials. The State and central governments had allowed him to sell the stock, originally meant for export, in the domestic market due to scarcity of the drug used to treat coronavirus patients,” the police official said.

The opposition BJP in Maharashtra objected to the pharma executive’s grilling by Mumbai police, saying the Shiv Sena-led government in the State was playing politics amid the pandemic. - PTI


Mayor claims 'more COVID deaths' took place than reported by Delhi govt.

More deaths from COVID-19 took place on Friday according to municipal records vis-a-vis the figures reported by the city government, North Delhi Mayor Jai Prakash claimed on Saturday.

According to the official data shared by the health department, 141 fatalities were reported on April 16.

The North Delhi mayor, however, claimed that the "death count from COVID-19 was 193 on Friday".

"According to cremations and burials performed of COVID-19 victims, the number of fatalities stands at 193," he claimed.

In civic areas across Delhi, 300 platforms have been reserved for COVID victims, he said. - PTI

(With inputs from Correspondents and Agencies)

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