Coronavirus updates | May 11, 2021

Frontline warriors from police department wait to get vaccinated at General Hospital in Bengaluru.   | Photo Credit: K. Bhagya Prakash

An early trend of decline in daily new COVID-19 cases and deaths has been noted in the country, the government said on May 11, indicating that the devastating second wave of the pandemic is on the wane.

According to the government, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Chhattisgarh were among 18 States and Union Territories showing continued plateauing or decrease in daily new COVID-19 cases.

Addressing a press conference, a senior official, however, said Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Punjab were among 16 States and Union Territories showing continued increasing trend in daily new COVID-19 cases.

Thirteen States have more than 1 lakh active COVID-19 cases each and 26 States have a positivity rate of over 15%, the government said.

New cases of coronavirus in India fell to 3.29 lakh after 14 days, taking the infection tally to 2,29,92,517, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on May 11. A total of 3,29,942 infections were reported in a span of 24 hours, while the death toll climbed to 2,49,992 with 3,876 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.

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:



Vaccine supply

Lav Agarwal: Based on scientific approach, GOI has to provide vaccines to States for priority age groups, which include health care, frontline workers and people above 45 years of age. About 17 crore free doses have been provided to the States to reduce mortality.

In addition, a direct purchase facility has also been provided to the States or private entities. The Central government will ensure a rational availability of vaccines to all the States/UTs.

ICMR chief Balram Bhargava: During the first and second wave, we have noticed there is not much age difference, people above 40 are more vulnerable for adverse outcome, hospitalised mortality is about 9.6/9.7%.

Younger people are getting more involved as they have suddenly gone out and there are variants which may be affecting younger people as well.

Agarwal: We are in continued talks with vaccine manufacturers, we are also working with them to increase production capacity. There has been capacity expansion. On Cowin, the slots are getting filled swiftly, more vaccination sites will be opened in future.


RAT and RT-PCR tests

ICMR chief Balram Bhargava:  The national positivity rate is about 21%. 310 of the 734 districts reporting positivity equal to or above the national average, RT-PCR testing capacity is now about 16 lakh per day, Rapid Antigen Test capacity also about 17 lakh per day.

On April 30, a total of 19,45,299 tests done, the highest ever in the world, 30 crore tests were concluded on May 7.

In the second wave, RT-PCR tests have been rationalised, RAT testing increased for early detection, isolation and home care,  Covid-19 Tests approved by reputed global agencies accorded marketing permission by DCGI.

RT-PCR must not be repeated in individuals who have tested positive once, either by RAT or RTPCR. No testing required for recovered individuals at the time of hospital discharge, no need for RT-PCR in healthy individuals undertaking inter-State domestic travel, non-essential travel and inter-State travel of symptomatic individuals should be essentially avoided.

All asymptomatic individuals undertaking essential travel must follow Covid approprivate behaviour, mobile testing labs are to be deployed.

We have to, in the field level and rural areas, start using RAT more aggressively.

RATs to be allowed at all government and private health care facilities. RAT booths are to be set up with the community in schools, colleges, community centres, RWA offices. Public-private partnership models are being encouraged to establish innovative and convenient testing centres.

RATs must be conducted in accordance with RAT algorithm defined by ICMR. All RTPCR  and RAT test results should be uploaded on ICMR portal.

If you are having fever with or without headache, sore throat, breathlessness, body ache, recent loss of taste/smell, fatigue, diarrhoea, all such individuals should be tested immediately, but not wait for test results. Immediately isolate and follow guidelines.


Oxygen status

Home Ministry Additional Secretary Piyush Goyal gives status of oxygen supplies: Oxygen generation plants have been set up and liquid oxygen also being imported.

Nitrogen and Argon tankers are being converted to facilitate oxygen transportation, tankers are also being imported and manufactured domestically. rail and air transportation of tankers will reduce turn-around time. The availability of cryogenic tanks at hospitals also being enhanced..oxygen being allocated rationally, oxygen digital tracking system being used for real time monitoring. virtual central control room for 24*7 real time monitoring.

Oxygen production capacity has increased from 6,817 tons to 7,314 tons now.

There has been seven fold increase in supply of liquid medical oxygen from 1,320 MT in March to 8,943 MT on May 9.

Additional measures to increase oxygen availability include 630MT per day production by the Steel sector, 683 MT per day from air separation units of SME sector, Jumbo Hospitals with 12,400 beds being set up with gaseous oxygen from refineries and power plants and steel plants, one lakh oxygen concentrators being procured under PM Cares Fund, supply of oxygen for non-essential industrial purposes prohibited since April 22, resulting in 1,000 MT of additional oxygen availability.

1,619 pressure swing adsorption plants are being established to improve oxygen supply, 5,805 MT being imported from UAE, Kuwait, France, Singapore and Bahrain.

Explaining the logistical challenge in transporting oxygen across the country, Mr. Goyal says oxygen tankers increased from 1,040 in March 2020 to 1,681 with 23,056 MT capacity. Railway and Air Force helping transport empty tankers to reduce time taken to ferry oxygen.

157 oxygen specials run to transport 637 tankers, 389 loaded tankers taken from production plants to various destinations by railways, 248 empty tankers also taken to production plant by the railways. In all, 374 tankers with 7049 MT capacity airlifted in domestic routes. 81 containers with 1407 MT capacity imported through Air Force, 1252 oxygen cylinders, three oxygen generation plants, 835 oxygen concentrators imported through Air Force.

For oxygen storage, cryogenic tanks at hospitals have been increased from 609 in March 2020 to 901 in May 2021, capacity increased from 5959 to 9,233 kL. Oxygen cylinders increased from 4.35 lakhs in March 2020 to 11.19 lakh in May 21.

Earlier, hospitals used to procure oxygen from suppliers directly. In April, due to increase in number of cases there was a spike in the demand for oxygen. We noticed that an allocation process had to be developed to ensure rational distribution. Allocation of more than 10,000 MT has been done through mapping of source and destination of oxygen. This plan is modified as per requirement on a daily basis.

A virtual central control room with senior officials of GOI and States/UTs has been set up to share info/problems and find immediate solutions round the clock.


How is Mumbai containing COVID-19?

Recently Mumbai earned praise of Supreme Court for managing the COVID-19 crisis. Health Ministry spokesperson Lav Agarwal explains the Mumbai Model.

In Mumbai, central war room was abolished to create a decentralised citizen communication approach. Test results shared with administration to communicate the results to the citizens and guide. At the ward level, war rooms were set up, BMC acted as a hub for receiving close to 10,000 test results every day from 55 labs and sorting them based on wards. These results were then shared with respective war rooms. This led to a reduction of caseload on each war room. each war room was equipped with 30 telephone lines and 10 dashboards highlighting info regarding availability of beds. Medical staff were invited to work in war rooms and were offerred a stipend and hotel accommodation. 800 SUVS were refurbished and turned into makeshift ambulances. A software platform was created with Uber's help to track and manage these ambulances. A centralised dashboard of 172 hospitals and Covid facilities was created to keep a tab on available resources.


Pune case analysis

After April 27, the case positivity has declined from 19% to 18% for the country, says  Health Ministry spokesperson Lav Agarwal.

About 17.01 crore vaccine doses provided for free by GOI to States, which people have already got. In collaboration with the States, 25.59 lakh doses given to the 18-44 age group, he says.

Case analysis of Pune revealed that when about 69.7 case positivity was recorded in the week beginning March 1, at the time curbing measures like night curfew was implemented. Subsequently, more stringent step was implemented for 15 days, there was a decline in growth trajectory, containment measures for next 15 days, we noticed benefit in terms of decline in positivity from 41.8% to 23.4%.

Night curfew coupled with restrictions on mass gathering and non essential activities for a limited period is critical to ensure reduction in infection spread, he says.


18 States show decrease in new cases

Union government is in discussion with States to contain the spread of covid-19, says  Health Ministry spokesperson Lav Agarwal.

State wise, the most number of active cases are in Maharashtra (5,93,150); followed by Karnataka (5,71,026), then Kerala (4,20,076), UP (2,25,271), Rajasthan (2,03,017), Andhra Pradesh (1,89,367), and Tamil Nadu (1,52,389).

In 13 States, there are more than 1 lakh cases, in six States, there are 50,000 to 1 lakh active cases and in 17 States, there are less than 50,000 cases.

In 26 States, positivity is over 15%,  in six States the positivity is from 5 to 15%, in four States it is below 5%. In 10 States, the positivity ranges from 20 to 25%.

18 States/UTs showing continued plateauing/decrease in daily new cases, they include Maharashtra, UP, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Telangana, Chandigarh, Ladakh, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep, Andaman Nicobar


Lockdown in Telangana from tomorrow

Telangana has imposed lockdown from tomorrow. The State Cabinet, which met this afternoon, decided to impose lockdown for 10 days from 10 a.m. on Wednesday. There will be relaxation from lockdown everyday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.

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Madhya Pradesh

Cases declining in Madhya Pradesh: Minister

The graph of COVID-19 infections in Madhya Pradesh is on the decline, state Home Minister Narottam Mishra said on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, a day after the daily infections dropped to 9,715.

"It is a matter of relief to see that the new cases fell to four digits from the five digits. Since last three to four days, cases are showing a downward trend in the state," Mr. Mishra, also a spokesperson of the state government, told reporters.

He said Madhya Pradesh recorded 9,715 new cases on Monday while more than 8,400 people recovered from the viral infection on the same day.

"The infection is declining in cities. Infection continues in rural areas but it is being brought under control thanks to the efforts undertaken by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan," Mr. Mishra said.

The State Home Minister further said 150 doses of COVID-19 vaccine wasted because members from the age group of 18 to 44 years who had booked slots didn't turn up for inoculation.

He didn't mention the date and location of the vaccine wastage incident.

"I appeal to youths with folded hands that they should come for vaccination after booking a slot. I also request to those people who wrote letters syaing that 100 slots in the initial phase (of the evaccination drive) are very less, to appeal to youths to ensure that no jab is wasted in the state," Mishra said in a veiled reference to the Congress.

These people should tweet to encourage the younger lot instead of criticising the government on the issue, he added.

Mr. Mishra alleged the Congress did nothing to help people in the pandemic except tweeting.

"This disease has spread from Congress-ruled states like Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Rajasthan to other states," he said.


Rahul slams PM Modi

Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Covid situation in the country, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, said he should remove his rose tinted glasses through which he can see nothing but the Central Vista project.

The Congress has been demanding that the project, including a new Parliament building and a new residence for the Prime Minister, be dropped and the money be used on improving medical facilities and infrastructure in the country. "Countless dead bodies flowing in the rivers. Miles of lines in hospitals. Robbed people of their right to life. PM, take off those rose tinted glasses through which nothing is seen except the Central Vista," Mr. Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.

The former Congress president also asked people to join the 'SpeakUpToSaveLives' campaign to strengthen the fight against COVID-19, and urged them to provide a helping hand to the needy in “these distressing times.


Biocon chief expresses concern over vaccine shortage

Biocon Executive Chairman Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has expressed concern over shortage of COVID-19 vaccines and sought better transparency from the government regarding their availability so that citizens could patiently wait for their turn.

India has announced expansion of its COVID-19 vaccination drive by allowing its large population aged over 18 to get inoculated from May 1.

"Very concerned about why vaccines are in such short supply. Can we please know where the 70 million doses are being deployed every month? @MoHFW_INDIA We need better transparency to avoid the suspense. If a timetable of supplies is made public people can patiently wait their turn," Ms. Mazumdar-Shaw said in a tweet on Tuesday while tagging the Health Ministry.


India records 3.29 lakh fresh COVID-19 cases, 3,876 fatalities

The single day rise in new coronavirus infections in India fell to 3.29 lakh after 14 days taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 2,29,92,517, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday, May 11, 2021.

A total of 3,29,942 infections were reported in a span of 24 hours, while the death toll climbed to 2,49,992 with 3,876 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.   After registering a steady rise for two months, the active cases have reduced to 37,15,221 comprising 16.16 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 82.75 per cent.

The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,90,27,304, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.09 per cent, the data stated.


Bodies of suspected victims retrieved from Ganga

Videos of several bodies of suspected COVID-19 victims floating at the Mahadeo ghat (bank) of the Ganga at Chausa village in Bihar, have gone viral on social media, sparking outrage and shock. Officials who visited the site said the bodies might have floated in from adjoining districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Chausa is about 10 kms from the headquarters of the border district of Buxar, adjoining eastern Uttar Pradesh.

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Hindu temple ships oxygen aid to crisis-hit India

As India's government scrambles for supplies of oxygen and other emergency aid to control the raging coronavirus outbreak, donors around the world have come to the rescue — including a Hindu temple in the United Arab Emirates.

On Monday, volunteers from the country's Hindu community gathered at the Jebel Ali Port, here at the northern end of Dubai, to haul hundreds of cylinders of liquid oxygen and massive containers of compressed oxygen onto a ship, where it will head to crisis-wracked India.

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Vaccination for 18-44 group sees good turnout at centres

Vaccination for those between 18 and 44 years, that began in all major government hospitals and medical colleges from Monday, saw a good turnout with many who had not registered on the CoWIN portal also turning up at the centres.

In Bengaluru, the vaccination for this group was held at K.C. General Hospital, Jayanagar General Hospital, Sir C.V. Raman General Hospital, government medical colleges, ESI hospital and NIMHANS. The demand was so high that the slots got filled up in a jiffy. Nodal officers of the vaccination centres said the slots for the next day got booked in a few minutes soon after the site was open for registration. According to the data from the Health Department, 10,300 beneficiaries in the 18-44 age group took the jab till 8.30 p.m.

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India variant is of global concern: WHO

The World Health Organziation said on Monday that the B.1.617 variant first identified in India last year was being classified as a variant of global concern. “We classify it as a variant of concern at a global level,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on COVID-19, told a briefing. “There is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility.”

Indian coronavirus infections and deaths held close to record daily highs on Monday, increasing calls for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lock down the world's second-most populous country.

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Vaccine production gradually ramped up, says Centre

The Centre informed the Supreme Court that the production capacity of COVID-19 vaccines had been “gradually ramped up” in the light of the immunisation drive.

“In times of grave and unprecedented crisis when the nation is fighting a disaster of unprecedented magnitude, the executive functioning of the government needs discretion to formulate policy in larger interest. It is submitted that in view of the unprecedented and peculiar circumstances under which vaccination drive is devised as an executive policy, the wisdom of the executive should be trusted,” it noted.

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Tamil Nadu

Got 5.16 lakh vaccine doses for 18-44 age group: TN govt.

The State government on Monday told the Madras High Court that it had received 5.16 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccines for inoculating people in the 18-44 age group.

Stating that it had paid 100% advance amount to two domestic vaccine manufacturers for procuring 13.85 lakh doses allotted by the Centre in the first phase, the government said it was yet to receive the rest of the 8.68 lakh doses.

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U.S. authorises Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12 to 15

U.S. regulators on Monday authorised Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 12, widening the country's inoculation program as vaccination rates have slowed significantly.

The vaccine has been available under an emergency use authorisation (EUA) to people as young as 16 in the United States. The vaccine makers said they had started the process for full approval for those ages last week. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it was amending the EUA to include the millions of children aged 12 to 15.

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1,952 employees have died due to COVID-19: Railways

As many as 1,952 employees of the Indian Railways have died due to COVID-19 since March 2020, and nearly 1,000 are getting infected daily on an average, Railway Board Chairman and CEO Suneet Sharma said on Monday.

“It [the COVID-19 situation] is a challenge. Railways are no different from any other State or territory...we also have COVID cases...We are in the business of transportation. We need to run trains to transport essential items, passengers as well as freight,” Mr. Sharma said during a press conference. The Railways are one of the country’s largest employer with around 12 lakh employees.

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(With inputs from our Correspondents and agencies)

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