Coronavirus updates | March 31, 2021

A medical worker inoculates a woman with a dose of a COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at a government hospital in Hyderabad on March 31, 2021.   | Photo Credit: AFP

As India prepares to open up its COVID-19 vaccination drive to people above 45 from April 1, the Centre on Wednesday asked States and Union Territories to identify low vaccine-coverage pockets, particularly in districts reporting a surge in new infections, and take corrective action.

National Health Authority (NHA) CEO and Empowered Group on COVID-19 Vaccination chairperson Dr. R.S. Sharma and Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level meeting with Health Secretaries, mission directors of NHM and immunisation officers of all States and UTs during the day, a statement said.

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As many as 53,480 fresh infections pushed India's COVID-19 tally to 1,21,49,335, while 354 new fatalities, the highest single-day spike so far this year, took the death toll to 1,62,468, according to Union Health Ministry data updated at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

The country had recorded 355 deaths on December 17.

The active caseload increased to 5,52,566 and accounts for 4.55% of the total infections. The recovery rate further dropped to 94.11%, the Ministry data showed.

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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:

 

 

 

Centre wants to focus on districts reporting surge in infections

As India prepares to open up its COVID-19 vaccination drive to people above 45 from April 1, the Centre on Wednesday asked States and Union Territories to identify low vaccine-coverage pockets, particularly in districts reporting a surge in new infections, and take corrective action.

National Health Authority (NHA) CEO and Empowered Group on COVID Vaccination chairperson Dr R S Sharma and Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level meeting with Health Secretaries, mission directors of NHM and immunisation officers of all States and UTs during the day, a statement said.

The status and pace of the inoculation drive across the country were reviewed at the meeting held through video-conferencing, as were the preparations for April 2021, when vaccination would be extended to cover everybody above the age of 45, the Ministry said.

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Punjab

26 athletes test positive for COVID at NIS Patiala

Twenty six sportspersons and support staff across disciplines were found to be COVID-19 positive after around 380 campers were subjected to tests for the dreaded infection at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala, a Sports Authority of India source told PTI on Wednesday.

However, the 26 positive results do not include include any Tokyo Olympic-bound athlete.

India's men's boxing chief coach CA Kuttappa and shot put coach Mohinder Singh Dhillon are among those who have tested positive for the virus in the recent drive, the SAI source confirmed. - PTI

 

 

Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine protects younger teens

Pfizer announced on Wednesday that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12, a step toward possibly beginning shots in this age group before they head back to school in the fall.

Most COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out worldwide are for adults, who are at higher risk from the coronavirus. Pfizer's vaccine is authorised for ages 16 and older. But vaccinating children of all ages will be critical to stopping the pandemic — and helping schools, at least the upper grades, start to look a little more normal after months of disruption.

In a study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15, preliminary data showed there were no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents compared to 18 among those given dummy shots, Pfizer reported.

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Brazilian regulator says Covaxin manufacturing facility fails to meet CGMP standards

The Brazilian health regulator Anvisa has denied permission to import Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin into the country after its authorities found that the plant in which the vaccine is being made did not meet the Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) requirements.

Reacting to it, the city-based vaccine maker said it is working towards resolving the issues cited during the inspection and the order of 20 million doses from the Brazilian government is still active.

National Health Surveillance Agency Anvisa in its website said it received a request from the Brazilian Health Ministry to import 20 million doses of Covaxin.

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Karnataka

Deve Gowda, wife test positive for COVID-19

Former Prime Minister and JDS chief H.D. Deve Gowda and his wife Chenamma Deve Gowda tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. Both of them have been admitted to Manipal Hospital, sources said, adding both of them are mildly symptomatic.

Mr. Deve Gowda’s daughter Shailaja, gunman and other helpers at his residence have been quarantined. They are being tested, the sources said.

While Mr. Deve Gowda is 88 years old, his wife is 84 years old.

C.N. Manjunath, director of Sr Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, who is Mr. Deve Gowda's son-in-law, said the party leader had tested negative in RT-PCR tes, but his chest CT showed features of COVID infection.

Ms. Chenamma, who had tested negative on Rapid Antigen Test, tested positive through a RT-PCR test. She had developed a fever on Sunday after returning from Holenarsipura where she had visited a temple and participated in a fair.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Karnataka Health Minister K. Sudhakar and Opposition Leader Siddaramaiah took to Twitter the duo a speedy recovery.

— Afshan Yasmeen

New Delhi

Junior hockey nationals postponed due to surge in COVID cases

The upcoming 11th junior women's hockey nationals has been postponed until further notice due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, the sport's governing body said on March 31. The tournament was scheduled to be held from April 3 to 12 in Simdega, Jharkhand.

Following instructions and protocols from the District Commissioner, Simdega and State authorities, the decision to postpone the championship was taken by Hockey India.

"In light of the rising number of COVID-19 cases and after advice from the local State authorities, Hockey India in consultation with the host Hockey Jharkhand arrived at the decision to postpone the 11th Hockey India Junior Women National Championship 2021..." HI president Gyanendro Ningombam said in a statement.

South Africa

South Africa bans alcohol sales for Easter weekend amid COVID-19 spike fears

South Africa will ban sale of alcohol and restrict religious gatherings for the four-day Easter weekend starting on April 2 to prevent the holiday from contributing to a possible spike in COVID-19 infections, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced.

Amid widely anticipated changes in the current lowest level one of the lockdown, these new restrictions were the only major adjustment as millions of people prepare for inter-provincial travel and huge religious gatherings for the Christian and Jewish communities over the weekend.

There had been concerns in senior government levels that this would prompt an earlier start to the expected third wave of COVID-19 infections.

Goa

Nearly 3,000 caught without masks on North Goa beaches in 2021

The Pernem and Calangute police in North Goa district have so far this year caught 2,957 people without wearing masks on beaches and collected ₹5.86 lakh as fine from them, officials said on March 31.

The Goa police have intensified their drive to penalise visitors violating the COVID-19 protocols and not wearing face covers on beaches, they said.

The coastal State has been witnessing huge crowds on its beaches, specially during extended weekends. The police at Pernem, Anjuna and Calangute, which cover the entire beach belt in North Goa district, have been penalising people found without masks at the sea shore.

China

China reports COVID-19 outbreak on border with Myanmar

At least nine people have tested positive for COVID-19 in a Chinese city on the border with Myanmar, health officials said Wednesday.

Five are Chinese citizens are four are Myanmar nationals, the Yunnan Province Health Commission said in a report posted online.

The city of Ruili, with a population of about 210,000 people, said all residents would be tested for COVID-19 and would have to home quarantine for one week.

The residential compound where the infections were found has been locked down.

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Gujarat

Night curfew extended in  Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot

In the wake of increasing COVID-19 infection cases, the Gujarat government on Tuesday extended the night curfew in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot till April 15. The curfew duration is from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The State on Tuesday witnessed 10 deaths, its highest tall in the last three months while 2,220 new infections were reported. So far, 4,510 people have succumbed to the COVID-19 infection in the state. As on Tuesday, there are a total 12,263 active cases out of which 147 are critically infected and are on ventilator support. — Mahesh Langa

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Cases across India

India records 53,480 new COVID-19 cases, 354 deaths

A health worker collects a nasal swab sample from a man outside at a hospital in Amritsar on March 30, 2021 to test for coronavirus.

A health worker collects a nasal swab sample from a man outside at a hospital in Amritsar on March 30, 2021 to test for coronavirus.   | Photo Credit: AFP

 

As many as 53,480 fresh infections pushed India's COVID-19 tally to 1,21,49,335, while 354 new fatalities, the highest single-day spike so far this year, took the death toll to 1,62,468, according to Union health ministry data updated on Wednesday.

The country had recorded 355 deaths on December 17.

The active caseload increased to 5,52,566 and accounts for 4.55 per cent of the total infections. The recovery rate further dropped to 94.11 per cent, the ministry data updated at 8 am showed.

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New Delhi

Covishield shelf life extended to 9 months, shows document

India’s drug regulator has allowed the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to be used for up to nine months from its manufacture date, as opposed to the prescribed six months, according to a document reviewed by Reuters. A source confirmed this.

The approval, given to a licensed version of the drug made by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and exported to dozens of countries, could help health authorities minimise vaccine wastage and better plan their inoculation programmes.

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National

Surge in cases a cause of concern: Ministry

Health staff collecting the swab COVID-19 test samples from police personnel at Rajarathinam Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

Health staff collecting the swab COVID-19 test samples from police personnel at Rajarathinam Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.   | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

 

“The country is facing an increasingly severe and intensive situation in some districts but the whole country is potentially at risk. All efforts to contain the virus and save lives should be taken,” said member (health) of the NITI Aayog V.K. Paul.

Also addressing the presser along with Mr. Paul on Tuesday, Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan stressed the need to take urgent action to curb the surge. He said States have been asked to ramp up testing with focus on RT-PCR tests, ensure effective and prompt isolation of those infected and tracing their close contacts while strengthening public and private health care resources. “Ensuring COVID appropriate behaviour and saturation of vaccination for priority age groups” in districts reporting surge in cases is also a priority, he said.

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Nepal

Nepal to restart vaccinations

Nepal was set to restart Covid-19 inoculations after receiving a donation of doses from China, resuming a campaign that was put on hold because India slowed vaccine exports.

India and China have sought to use vaccine diplomacy to extend influence around the world during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly among poorer countries seeking cheaper shots.

Nepal began vaccinations in January after receiving one million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine from neighbouring India. Another 348,000 from the World Health Organization-backed Covax scheme arrived in March.

But only half of a follow-up order of two million shots from India has been delivered so far, and none have been administered since mid-March.

But the health ministry said Tuesday that the drive would resume after 800,000 doses of China's Sinopharm vaccine arrived on Monday.

"It will be given after a decision is made on which population bracket we will target," health ministry spokesman Jageshwor Gautam said.

Italy

Italy reports 529 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, 16,017 new cases

Italy reported 529 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday against 417 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 16,017 from 12,916.

Some 301,451 tests for COVID-19 were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 156,692, the health ministry said.

Italy has registered 108,879 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the seventh-highest in the world. The country has reported 3.56 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with COVID-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 29,231 on Tuesday, increasing from 29,163 a day earlier.

Delhi

Daily cases drop below 1,000 as testing declines by almost half

The Capital reported 992 new COVID-19 cases in 24-hours with four deaths, a bulletin released by the Health Department on Tuesday said. It added that 36,757 tests were conducted in a single day, with a positivity rate of 2.7%. The case tally stands at 6,60,611 with 11,016 total fatalities.

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Maharashtra

Bombay HC to decide on conducting online and physical hearings

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday said it would take a decision on using both online and physical hearings in view of the increase in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra.

Chief Justice Dipankar Datta said several recommendations had been received for adopting the hybrid (online and physical) system of hearings, but no decision had been taken yet. “An internal meeting with the administrative committee of the High Court will be held this week and a decision will be taken based on what the experts suggest,” he said.

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Parliament

CSIR suggests coronavirus surveillance for Parliament

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has mooted setting up sewage and air surveillance system in the Indian Parliament to find the prevalence of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Director General Shekhar C. Mande made a presentation to this effect to Vice-President and Chairman of Rajya Sabha M. Venkaiah Naidu in the presence of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Director Rakesh Mishra, IICT Director S. Chandrasekhar, senior scientist Venkata Mohan and Atya Kapley of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (Nagpur).

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(With inputs from our Correspondents and agencies)

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 12:14:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-live-updates-march-31-2021/article34203468.ece

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