Updated: April 16, 2021 4:08:52 pm
India logged a record 2,17,353 daily coronavirus cases as many states grappled with shortages of hospital beds, oxygen, medicines and vaccine doses. The fresh cases took the total caseload to over 1.42 crore.
The death toll also increased to 1,74,308 with 1,185 new fatalities, the highest since September 19, 2020, data by the Union Health Ministry showed.
Registering a steady increase for the 37th day in a row, the active cases have increased to 15,69,743, comprising 10.98 per cent of the total infections, while the national Covid-19 recovery rate dropped to 87.80 per cent.
Maharashtra reported the highest daily new cases at 61,695 followed by Uttar Pradesh with 22,339 cases and Delhi with 16,699.
Maharashtra also saw the maximum casualties (349) followed by Chhattisgarh with 135, Delhi with 112, Uttar Pradesh 104, Gujarat 81, Karnataka 66, Madhya Pradesh 53, Punjab 50, Rajasthan 33 and Tamil Nadu 29.
As Covid-19 cases in India continue to rise steadily, Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla on Friday appealed to US President Joe Biden to lift the embargo on export of raw materials needed to manufacture vaccines out of the United States so that vaccine production can be fast-tracked.
Tagging Biden on Twitter, Poonawalla wrote, “Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the U.S., I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up. Your administration has the details.”
For the last ten days, the daily count of coronavirus cases in Maharashtra has been hovering around 60,000. It is the longest period of stability in the state since the start of the second wave, and could be the first indication that Maharashtra has finally reached its peak.
On Thursday, the state reported 61,695 new infections. The current peak of 63,294 cases that was achieved on Sunday has now stood for five days, the longest that any peak has survived in Maharashtra since the start of March.
“It does seem that Maharashtra has reached its peak. There are very clear signs now. We should start seeing a decline in the daily numbers in the state in a few days,” said Prof Maninder Agarwal of IIT Kanpur, who is part of a team running a computer model simulating the trajectory of the epidemic in India. “All the major cities in Maharashtra — Mumbai, Pune, Thane — also seem to have either reached their peaks or are very close to reaching a peak. Pune, specifically, I think, is already there,” he said.
With the country battling a second wave of coronavirus, at least three state governments and several Opposition MPs have urged the Centre to start a free foodgrain scheme for the poor on the lines of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), announced last year when the first wave of the infection was at its peak.
Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Kerala governments and several Opposition leaders – NCP chief Sharad Pawar, senior Trinamool MP Sougata Ray and CPI Rajya Sabha member Binoy Viswam among them — are learnt to have written to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution to start a free foodgrain scheme on the lines of PMGKAY, which was launched as part of the government’s package announced in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Uttarakhand government restricted gatherings at religious, social and political events to 200 people but exempted Kumbh Mela from it. The exemption was given despite more than 1,700 people testing positive for Covid-19 in Kumbh Mela area between April 1 and April 15.
A directive issued by Chief Secretary Om Prakash said not more than 200 people will be permitted in religious, political and social events and wedding ceremonies. For the Kumbh Mela area, the order said SOPs issued by the Centre on January 22 and the state on February 26 will be applicable.
When asked about the exemption to Kumbh, the Chief Secretary said, “These restrictions are for private ceremonies.”
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