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Coronavirus updates | May 15, 2021

West Bengal govt announces complete lockdown from May 16-30; active cases in India reduces to 36,73,802 and comprise 15.07% of the total infections

May 15, 2021 10:00 am | Updated 10:36 pm IST

A health worker takes the nasal swab sample of a boy to test for COVID-19 in Gauhati, India, Friday, May 14, 2021.

A health worker takes the nasal swab sample of a boy to test for COVID-19 in Gauhati, India, Friday, May 14, 2021.

India in a day recorded 3,26,098 COVID-19 cases that took the tally to 2,43,72,907, while 3,890 new fatalities pushed the death toll to 2,66,207, according to Union health ministry data updated on Saturday.

The active cases have reduced to 36,73,802 and comprise 15.07% of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has improved to 83.83%, it stated. The number of people who have recovered from the disease has increased to 2,04,32,898, while the case fatality rate stands at 1.09%, 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 :

New Delhi

Health Ministry on COVID-19 situation across the country:

Joint Secretary of the Union Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal:

"11 States have over 1 lakh active cases, 17 have less than 50,000 cases. There are 24 States with more than 15% positivity. There are 516 districts with over 10% positivity.

“18.04 crore doses of vaccine have been administered so far.”

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Director Randeep Guleria:

“Secondary infections, such as bacterial and fungal infections are also being noted and this is increasing mortality.

“Because of COVID-19 we are seeing more instances of mucormycosal infections [black fungus].

“This is found in either those who have diabetes and other co-morbidities or misuse of steroids.”

NITI Aayog member V.K. Paul :

“The pandemic is in a mixed stage but the trend seems to be towards stabilisation.

“Case fatality rate is stable, and this is a big achievement. This is due to the collective work of districts, States and the country.

“We have on some days done 1.9 million tests. This is a world record and no country has ever achieved that. This while ensuring that 70% is RT-PCR.

“Vaccine technology transfer is complex. From seed to production, it takes about 70-75 days. Bharat Biotech has tied up with 3 PSUs and working with them for many months and is not something that started to be discussed just few weeks ago.

“All vaccine manufacturers consider Indian government as partners.

“There are narratives that say the dosages between vaccines were extended because of shortage. This is false.

“We have independent scientists. When UK extended dosage, we had evaluated the data available at that time and decided that the evidence didn't support extending time gap. We were worried about breakthrough infections.

“The situation now is that, after evaluating data from the U.K. experience, it was 60-85% effective in disease prevention. The data also says that it showed a halt in transmission. Thus with this evidence we have decided that we can delay gap between doses. We are following scientific protocol on how data is to be interpreted. So please respect our scientists' decisions.


New Delhi

It is a grave misdeed, says Chidambaram on discrepancy in Gujarat death figures

Highlights from Former Union Minister P. Chidamabaram's  press conference on discrepancy in Gujarat death figures:

“On May 14, Divya Bhaskar, a Gujarati language newspaper published a news story that sent shock waves throughout Gujarat and the country.

“The thrust of the story was that during the period March 1 to May 10 of this year [2021], Gujarat issued about 1,23,000 death certificates as against about 58,000 death certificates issued during the same period last year [2020].

“The increase was an alarming number of about 65,000 death certificates. This increase cannot be explained as a natural annual increase in the number of deaths. It can only be attributed to a pandemic or any other natural disaster.

“We have independently verified the two numbers referred to above for the period of 71 days. We have collected the numbers from 33 districts [including the cities]. The sum of the number of death certificates nearly tallies with the numbers published by Divya Bhaskar: 1,23,873 in 2021 vs 58,068 in 2020.

"During the period March 1, 2021 to May 10, 2021, the government of Gujarat has officially admitted only 4,218 COVID-related deaths. The difference between the increase in the number of death certificates (65,805) and the official COVID-related deaths (4,218) must be explained. It cannot be explained as ‘natural annual increase’ or ‘due to other causes’.

“We have a strong suspicion that the bulk of the increased number of deaths is due to COVID-19 and the State government is suppressing the true number of COVID-related deaths. We have a strong suspicion that the Government of India, in conjunction with some State governments, is suppressing the true numbers of new infections and COVID-related deaths.

"If our suspicions are true, this is a grave misdeed apart from being a national shame and a national tragedy. The Government of India and the government of Gujarat owe an explanation to the people of India.”

West Bengal

Mamata's brother, undergoing COVID-19 treatment, dies in Kolkata hospital

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's brother Ashim Banerjee, who was undergoing treatment for COVID-19 at a hospital in Kolkata, died on Saturday morning, his family members said.

The Trinamool Congress supremo's brother, popular as 'Kalida' among locals in his residential area of Kalighat, breathed his last around 9.20 a.m. at the private hospital, they said.

He had tested positive for coronavirus nearly a month ago and was admitted since then, an official of the medical establishment said.



Taiwan faces its worst outbreak in pandemic

The island of Taiwan, which has had enviable success in containing COVID-19, imposed new restrictions in its capital city on Saturday as it battled its worst outbreak since the pandemic began.

Authorities raised the alert level for Taipei, the capital, and the surrounding area of New Taipei city. The level-3 alert, which remains in effect for two weeks, requires people to wear a mask outdoors and limits indoor gatherings to five people and outdoor gatherings to 10 people.

Health authorities said that 180 new locally spread cases had been confirmed, the majority in Taipei and New Taipei. That's more than the total of 164 cases previously confirmed for the entire pandemic period. The daily number of new cases rose steadily from single digits early this week to 29 before the triple-digit jump announced on Saturday.

Movie theatres, museums, indoor swimming pools and amusement parks were among the places ordered closed under the level-3 alert, as were community colleges and senior citizen activity centres.

- AP

Tamil Nadu

Goondas Act for hoarding Remdesivir: Stalin

Hoarding of Remdesivir, a drug used in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, and selling oxygen cylinders at exorbitant rates will attract police action under the stringent Goondas Act in Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister M. K. Stalin said on Saturday.

The CM's direction to the police comes in the wake of arrest of a number of persons for allegedly selling Remdesivir vials in the black market at inflated prices amid a surge in demand for the life-saving oxygen.

Mr. Stalin said that while the public have accepted the "bitter pill" of lockdown despite the curbs affecting their livelihood and have extended cooperation to save lives, at the same time, some "anti-social elements" were hoarding the drug and selling it in the black market, he said in a statement.

"Similarly, complaints are being received that at some places oxygen cylinders are being sold at high rates. Indulging in such acts during a pandemic is a severe crime," Mr. Stalin added.



IMA urges Kerala government to conduct swearing-in ceremony online

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Saturday appealed to conduct the swearing-in ceremony of the new Left government in Kerala on virtual platform in the wake of the unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases.

The State chapter of the outfit pointed out that the violation of the social-distancing norms and the lack of proper usage of masks during the campaign of the recently concluded Assembly election was among the several reasons which triggered the second wave of the pandemic in the State.

The new government is coming to power upholding scientific temper and understanding the will of people, it said.


Uttar Pradesh

COVID-19 positive woman gives birth to healthy baby

A COVID-19 infected woman gave birth to a healthy baby girl at a hospital in Shahjahanpur, officials said on Saturday.

Sarladevi, 30, a resident of the Tilhar area, was admitted to the ICU unit of the Medical College in the city, after she complained of labour pain. Subsequently, she gave birth to the baby, Public Relations Officer of Medical College Dr. Pooja Tripathi said, adding it was a normal delivery.

Two other babies, whose mothers were coronavirus positive, were born at the ICU of the hospital. However, one of the babies died, she said.

Tripathi said Sarladevi and her baby are in a healthy condition.



Recoveries outnumber new COVID cases; active cases down by 31,091

For the fourth time in the last five days, India's daily COVID-19 recoveries outnumbered new cases, taking the total recoveries to 2,04,32,898, the Union Health Ministry said on Saturday.

The number of people who recovered from the infection in the last 24 hours was 3,53,299, while the number of new cases recorded in the same period was 3,26,098, according to the Ministry data updated at 8 a.m.

The national recovery rate stands at 83.83%, it said.



51 out of 141 residents of Uttarakhand village test positive for COVID-19

Fifty-one out of the 141 people living in a village in Uttarakhand's Pauri district have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said on Saturday.

The village has been declared a containment zone and villagers have been put in home isolation, they said.

Residents of Kurkhyal village in Pauri's Ekeshwar block had been showing symptoms of COVID-19 like fever for some time. A health department team from the primary health centre at Pathisain took samples of villagers for testing on May 11, said Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Satpuli, Sandip Kumar.


COVID-19 meeting

PM Modi reviews COVID situation, vaccination drive

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday chaired a high-level meeting on the COVID-19 situation and the ongoing vaccination drive.

Government sources said top officials from different ministries attended the meeting.

Mr. Modi has been holding regular review meetings on the pandemic situation and taking measures as he spearheads the drive to curb the second wave of surge in infections.


West Bengal

West Bengal govt announces complete lockdown from May 16-30

The West Bengal government on Saturday announced a complete lockdown from Sunday till May 30 in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

"We are taking some strict measures to contain the pandemic, starting Sunday 6 am till 6 pm of May 30," Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said.

During this period, all government and private offices, shopping complexes, malls, bars, sports complexes, pubs and beauty parlours will remain closed, he said.

Movement of private vehicles, taxis, buses, metro rail, suburban trains will also be disallowed during the 15- day lockdown period.



COVID-19 bio-waste

Coronavirus | India witnesses Surge in COVID 19-related biomedical waste

The average generation of COVID 19-related biomedical waste in the country shot up from 75 tonnes per day in March to 203 tonnes per day in May following the spike in pandemic cases, according to estimates by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

The average monthly generation increased to 139 tonnes per day in April from 75 tonnes in March. As on May 10, the corresponding figure was 203 tonnes per day. “Peak generation of about 250 tonnes per day was reported on May 10. The earlier peak in the year 2020 was in the range of 180 to 220 tonnes per day,” as per the estimates by the CPCB.

- G. Krishnakumar


New Delhi

Arvind Kejriwal announces Oxygen Concentrator Banks in Delhi

Around 6,000 COVID cases have emerged in the last 24 hours and the positivity rate has gone down to 11%, which is a sign that things are constantly improving, said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

"Today, we are also putting a very important system: Oxygen Concentrator Banks are being created in the city," he added.

"As many as 200 Oxygen Concentrators will be part of these Oxygen Concentrator Banks which are being created in each district especially for COVID patients in home isolation. These will be delivered within 2 hours," he claimed. - Delhi Bureau


First repatriation flight from India arrives in Australia following end of COVID-19 travel ban

The first repatriation flight carrying Australians stranded in India landed in Darwin on Saturday following the end of the federal government's controversial ban on them from returning home.

The repatriation flights facilitated by the Australian government for its stranded citizens in India resumed from Friday following a two weeks ban due to the COVID-19 health crisis in India.

- AP

New Delhi

Experts attribute lockdown as main factor behind fall in COVID-19 cases in Delhi

Delhi on Friday recorded 8,506 COVID-19 cases, the daily count dipping to below the 10,000-mark again after a month, with medical experts believing the lockdown to be the main factor behind the dip amid the second wave of the pandemic.

The national capital had registered 7,897 coronavirus cases on April 10 with 39 deaths, as per official data.

The fatality count stood at 289 on Friday, with experts cautioning that even over 8,500 daily cases was "still a huge figure" and "severity of cases were still the same as before".



Let's face it: Washington adjusts to new mask guidance

Jill Biden says finally going mask-free feels like “we're moving forward.” A Republican senator says going unmasked "certainly helps the flow of conversation.” But the conversation on the House floor on Friday approached sniping as lawmakers objected to being required to keep masking up until all 435 of them get their COVID-19 shots.

Across Washington, the government is adjusting to new federal guidance easing up on when masks should be worn.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that fully vaccinated people — those who are two weeks past their last required dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — can stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings. Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated people should keep wearing masks, the guidance says.

But on Capitol Hill, lawmakers have to keep wearing masks on the House floor, according to a memo from the Office of the Attending Physician, Dr Brian Monahan.

- AP

Coronavirus vaccines

Vaccine passports: why they are good for society

As more and more people get vaccinated, some governments are relying on “vaccine passports” as a way of reopening society. These passports are essentially certificates that show the holder has been immunised against COVID-19, which restaurants, pubs, bars, sports venues and others can use to grant them entry.

Israel currently operates a “green pass” system, which allows vaccinated people access to theatres, concert halls, indoor restaurants and bars. The UK government had to roll back plans to trial vaccine passports after some of the venues involved experienced significant backlash against the proposals.


Health Ministry update

India has administered, till date, more than 18.04 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines.



Germany puts Britain back on a list of “risk areas”

Germany is putting the Britain back on a list of “risk areas” because of the emergence there of cases of a coronavirus variant first detected in India.

Britain currently has a lower rate of coronavirus infections than Germany.

But Germany's disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, says the United Kingdom is going back on the list effective Sunday because of “the at least limited appearance” of the variant known as B.1.617.2.

- AP

Vaccine production

COVID-19: USTR, Piyush Goyal discuss vaccine production and TRIPS waiver

Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal discussed the proposed waiver to provisions of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for COVID-19-specific items and raising vaccine production with United States Trade Representative (USTR), Katherine Tai, in a virtually meeting on Friday.

During the meeting, Tai conveyed her deep sympathy for the people of India as the country battles a deadly wave of COVID-19 and reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to help India, the USTR said in a readout of the call.



Thane district's COVID-19 count up by 1,697, death toll by 59

With 1,697 new coronavirus cases, the infection count in Thane district of Maharashtra mounted to 4,97,810, an official said on Saturday.

These new cases were reported on Friday, he said. The virus claimed the lives of 59 persons, due to which the death toll in the district rose to 8,370.


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