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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Coronavirus India News Highlights: Maharashtra to reopen schools for classes 9-12 from November 23

About 54,000 people were declared to have recovered on Friday and active cases have come down to 5.16 lakh.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: November 8, 2020 10:37:47 am
79 deaths, no let-up in Covid surge in DelhiA health worker collects a swab sample at a testing centre. (Reuters/Adnan Abidi)

The Maharashtra government on Saturday announced reopening of schools for classes 9-12 from November 23. Education minister Varsha Gaikwad made the announcement a video conference held by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.  Gaikwad said all teachers will undergo RT-PCR coronavirus tests between November 17 and 22. “Schools will reopen on November 23, and students will undergo thermal checking at entry,” she said.

Daily new cases of coronavirus crossed the 50,000-mark again with India reporting 50,356 cases in the last 24 hours. With 7,178 cases, Delhi became the top contributor for the first time, ahead of Kerala and Maharashtra. About 54,000 people were declared to have recovered on Friday and active cases have come down to 5.16 lakh. India’s Covid-19 cases have risen to 84,62,081 and with 577 new deaths, the death toll has surged to 1,25,562.

Meanwhile, the vaccine against the novel coronavirus, when it arrives, will be prioritised on the principle of “protecting the health system and pandemic control system”, and those who have “excessive risk of mortality”, NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul, who chairs the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19, has said.

Also, a fortnight after Dr Reddy’s Laboratories said it had “isolated” its data centre services after a cyber attack, Mumbai-based Lupin became the second major Indian pharmaceutical company to be hit by a similar attack. Indian pharma companies, currently plugged into the global supply chain for potential Covid-19 vaccines, have become more vulnerable, the experts said. More such attacks could be on the way, they warned.

On Friday, India sent out a message to several countries that it will use its strength in vaccine production and delivery to help humanity in fighting the coronavirus crisis. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said this during an interaction with ambassadors and high commissioners of foreign missions in India.

Live Blog

Coronavirus India LIVE updates: India's caseload mounts to 84,62,081, death toll above 1.25 lakh; Daily cases cross 50,000 again; Delhi becomes top contributor for the first time. Get all the latest updates here.    

22:13 (IST)07 Nov 2020
Schools to reopen in Maharashtra for 9th to 12th from November 23

Classes 9 to 12 of schools in Maharashtra will reopen from November 23, school education minister Varsha Gaikwad said on Saturday. Gaikwad made the announcement at a video conference held by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Classes 9 to 12 should reopen after Diwali with all COVID-19 safety protocols in place, he said. A second wave of COVID-19 pandemic was possible looking at the situation elsewhere in the world, so the administration must be cautious, the chief minister warned. He also said that schools used as quarantine centres will not be closed.

20:45 (IST)07 Nov 2020
Manipur records 240 newcases and 3 deaths
19:22 (IST)07 Nov 2020
Delhi is now single largest contributor of cases

Delhi overtook Maharashtra and Kerala by reporting 7,178 COVID-19 cases in a span of 24 hours, becoming the largest contributor to the new 50,356 single day infections, according to Union Health Ministry. Read more  

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19:04 (IST)07 Nov 2020
Can't remain silent spectator to situations: EC Chandra on Bihar polls amid COVID

Noting that the coronavirus pandemic presented a unique challenge for the poll panel in holding safe elections, Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra on Saturday said various facilities were extended to COVID-19 patients to cast their vote in the Bihar assembly polls, including postal ballot facility and extension of polling time. He said the Election Commission cannot remain "silent" to situations where persons suffering from COVID-19 are unable to exercise their democratic right. "This time, besides senior citizens and women, we had to make additional arrangements for COVID patients... We extended polling time by one hour," he said addressing an event. Chandra said though postal ballot facility was extended, any person wanting to cast vote at the polling station was free to do so. "Our polling officials were fully equipped with PPE kits and other measures to handle the situation," he said. Many people suffering from COVID-19 came to cast their votes in all the three phases on October 28, November 3 and November 7 (Saturday). 

18:14 (IST)07 Nov 2020
India's domestic air passenger traffic reaches over half of pre-COVID levels: MOCA secy

India's domestic passenger traffic has reached more than half of pre-coronavirus pandemic level operations with the number of daily air travellers crossing over two lakh in November, a top official of the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) said on Saturday. MOCA Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said when flights resumed after a hiatus of two months due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there were only 30,000 air passengers on the first day but the number reached over two lakh on November 2. He also said almost 100 per cent of bookings and check-ins are now happening through the web and hailed the country's aviation fraternity for adapting "very well" to the "new normal".

18:10 (IST)07 Nov 2020
Delhi reeling under third wave of COVID-19; cases should drop soon: Health Minister Jain

The national capital is currently reeling under the "third wave" of the COVID-19 infection, but cases should begin to come down soon, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said on Saturday.

Interacting with reporters, he also said that the Delhi government has filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court after the high court did not allow reserving 80 per cent ICU beds for COVID-19 patients at several private hospitals here. Delhi's COVID-19 tally increased to 4,23,831 on Friday after the national capital for the first time recorded over 7,000 coronavirus cases.

The 7,178 fresh cases came out of the 58,860 tests conducted on Thursday, while the positivity rate on Friday stood at 12.19 per cent amid the festive season and rising pollution in the city, according to a bulletin issued by the Delhi health department.

15:43 (IST)07 Nov 2020
COVID-19 negative report must for Haj pilgrims next year

Haj pilgrims will have to submit COVID-19 negative report 72 hours prior to their journey to Saudi Arabia in 2021, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Saturday. After holding a meeting with the Haj Committee and other stake-holders, the minister for minority affairs told reporters that December 10 is the last date for submitting applications for Haj pilgrimage 2021. "The applicants can apply online, off-line or through Haj mobile application as well. In view of the coronavirus pandemic, we are making it mandatory for all the pilgrims to submit their COVID-19 negative report of RT-PCR test. The date of testing should be 72 hours prior to boarding a flight to Saudi Arabia," he said.

14:27 (IST)07 Nov 2020
COVID-19: Daily infection count goes on the wane in Maha

The coronavirus situation in Maharashtra, where the infection count has crossed the 17 lakh-mark so far, appears to be improving gradually as the last one lakh cases were added over a period of 16 days as compared to the earlier average period of less than 10 days. While the case count had crossed the 16-lakh mark on October 20, the infection tally reached 17,03,444 on November 5.

According to officials, this is the third slowest growth period as far as addition of one lakh cases is concerned since the outbreak began in March this year. In the state, which remains the hardest-hit in the country by the pandemic, the number of single-day infection cases has come down in the range of 4,000 to 7,000 in the last couple of weeks after witnessing 20,000-plus daily cases for a sustained period in September.

14:24 (IST)07 Nov 2020
Bengal tourism minister hospitalised after testing COVID- positive

West Bengal Tourism Minister Gautam Deb tested positive for COVID-19, following which he was hospitalised, Health Department officials said on Saturday. Deb undertook the COVID test after he was feeling unwell, they said. His test result came in as positive on Friday, officials said, adding that he was admitted to a hospital in Siliguri. Deb was present at the administrative review meeting held at state secretariat 'Nabanna' on Thursday. He also held meetings with party leaders in Siliguri on Friday. "All those who have met him were asked to go on isolation. The vehicle used by Deb and his residence were sanitised on Saturday morning," a Health official said. (PTI)

13:37 (IST)07 Nov 2020
Goa govt revokes nod to Sunburn EDM festival after facing flak
The Congress party had protested in the city on Friday against the decision to allow Sunburn to be organised in the state.

The Goa government has withdrawn the permission granted to the organisers of Sunburn electronic dance music (EDM) festival to hold the event in the state in December this year.

The move comes in the wake of criticism being faced by the BJP government in the state after it gave its nod to organise the festival amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Congress party had protested in the city on Friday against the decision to allow Sunburn to be organised in the state.

12:45 (IST)07 Nov 2020
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan tests positive for Covid-19.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has tested positive for COVID-19. A tweet from the Kerala Governor's handle said, "Hon'ble Governor Shri Arif Mohammed Khan said: 'I have tested positive for Covid19. But, there is no cause for concern. However, I request all those who had contact with me in NewDelhi last week to test for Covid, or be under observation to be on the safe side."

12:37 (IST)07 Nov 2020
ICU beds are still available in govt hospitals in Delhi: Satyender Jain

Satyender Jain says, "ICU beds are still available in govt hospitals in Delhi. But since affluent people prefer private hospitals over govt hospitals so, they are facing problems in private hospitals."

12:36 (IST)07 Nov 2020
Delhi govt files SLP in SC to address HC overturning its mandate to reserve 80% beds as ICU beds in private hospitals

Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain says, "Delhi government has added 500 COVID-19 beds, including 110 ICU beds in the govt hospitals across the national capital. In private hospitals, 685 more beds have been added. Delhi govt has filed Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court to address the High Court overturn of our mandate to reserve 80% beds as ICU beds in private hospitals."

12:33 (IST)07 Nov 2020
COVID-19 pandemic has taught us a lot: PM Modi

PM Modi says, "COVID-19 pandemic has taught us a lot. It has taught us that globalisation is essential but at the same time, self-reliance is equally important. Atma Nirbhar Bharat drive is about new opportunities for our youth so that they can showcase their inventions freely."

11:40 (IST)07 Nov 2020
Amid Covid-19, virtual reality is becoming a working reality now: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the 51st Annual Convocation of IIT (Indian Institutes of Technology), through video conferencing. He says, "In the present situation amid #COVID19 pandemic, technology has played the most significant role. It has changed the way things are being conducted today. Virtual reality is becoming a working reality now."

11:32 (IST)07 Nov 2020
Delhi breaches 7,000-mark in daily Covid count, ICU crunch now felt in govt hospitals as well
Covid-19 testing at a school in Saket, New Delhi. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

With Delhi breaching the 7,000-mark in daily cases for the first time, the crunch in Covid ICU beds with ventilator support, so far seen at the city’s private hospitals, is now being felt even at government facilities.

On Friday, the capital recorded 7,178 cases and 64 deaths, taking the count to 4,23,831 and the death toll to 6,833 — 42,187 cases were logged in the last week. And out of 1,250 ICU ventilator beds across private and government hospitals, 912, or almost 73 per cent, are occupied.

Data available on the Delhi government’s Corona app shows that not a single ICU bed with a ventilator is available at Safdarjung, Deen Dayal Upadhaya and Sardar Patel hospitals. These are among the 14 government hospitals with ICU beds earmarked for Covid patients in the city.

11:01 (IST)07 Nov 2020
To reopen schools or not? Some take leap, others hold back
Class X students at a private school in Noida. (Express/file)

To reopen schools or not, even for senior students — Class IX to Class XII — is the big question states are grappling with. While Maharashtra Friday said it was considering starting physical classes in schools from November 23, Odisha put on hold an earlier decision to reopen schools after November 15, and Gujarat said it was preparing an SOP for physical classes in senior classes from November 18.

At least two states, Uttarakhand and Andhra Pradesh, reported Covid cases among teachers and students after schools reopened, raising fresh concerns among parents and administrators. In Uttarakhand, where classes for Class X and Class XII re-commenced this Monday, over 80 teachers in 20 government schools in Pauri Garhwal district tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The administration Friday closed the schools in Pauri Garhwal district’s four affected blocks for five days and ordered contact-tracing to check if the infection had spread among students who attended classes taken by the teachers who tested positive.

10:32 (IST)07 Nov 2020
BJP MLAs Narpat Singh Rajvi and Madan Dilawar test positive; Ashok Gehlot wishes them speedy recovery

BJP MLAs Narpat Singh Rajvi and Madan Dilawar have tested positive for Covid-19. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot wished them a speedy recovery. "I have come to know, BJP MLAs Narpat Singh Rajvi ji and Madan Dilawar ji have tested positive for #COVID?19. My best wishes for their speedy recovery," Gehlot tweeted.<

10:28 (IST)07 Nov 2020
Healthcare and frontline workers will have vaccine priority: V K Paul
A health worker takes a nasal swab sample to test for COVID-19 in Hyderabad. (AP)

The vaccine against the novel coronavirus, when it arrives, will be prioritised on the principle of “protecting the health system and pandemic control system”, and those who have “excessive risk of mortality”, NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul, who chairs the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19, has said.

Resources will not be a problem in providing the vaccine to the people, Dr Paul said.

“There are three vaccines being tested in India. Two additional ones have recently been given permission for trial. That work is yet to start, but three are already being subjected to human trials,” Dr Paul said. “Two of them — the ICMR Bharat and the Cadila vaccines are Indian, indigenous vaccines. Both are in the final stages of phase II and the results should be available very soon, and then they will move to phase III.”

09:55 (IST)07 Nov 2020
Daily cases cross 50,000 again; Delhi becomes top contributor for the first time

Daily new cases of coronavirus crossed the 50,000-mark again with India reporting 50,356 cases in the last 24 hours. With 7,178 cases, Delhi became the top contributor for the first time, ahead of Kerala and Maharashtra. About 54,000 people were declared to have recovered on Friday and active cases have come down to 5.16 lakh. India's Covid-19 cases have risen to 84,62,081 and with 577 new deaths, the death toll has surged to 1,25,562.

Delhi coronavirus, delhi news, delhi airport, delhi international departure, Delhi airport covid testing, IGIA covid testing Covid-19 testing at a school in Saket, New Delhi. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

Coronavirus India live updates

Dr Paul said, “Serum (Institute of India) is manufacturing and conducting phase III trials for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. That vaccine is in phase III (trials) and (is) therefore, most advanced in terms of R&D… So, if that is successful then the possibility of vaccination opens up… By all accounts, we’re looking forward to early 2021, when such a possibility in an optimistic scenario is possible.”

Dr Paul, however, cautioned that “You cannot take effectiveness for granted. We cannot take the vaccine development for granted.” Therefore, he said, “We must continue to hope to have a vaccine but we cannot lower the guard in terms of the four strategies (testing-tracking-tracing; containment; hospital preparedness and response, clinical care; and wearing masks and observing social distancing) for control…”

Asked if the vaccine will be made available free to all Indians, Dr Paul said: “The vaccine in initial stages, in any country, is not going to be available in unlimited supply because we are zero at the moment… It will take months.”

Meanwhile, the central government issued a set of revised guidelines for international arrivals, under which travellers seeking exemption from institutional quarantine will need to submit a negative RT-PCR report 72 hours before undertaking the journey. According to the guidelines issued by the Health Ministry, passengers would need to give an undertaking on the portal or to the Ministry of Civil Aviation through concerned airlines before they are allowed to undertake the journey, stating that they would abide by the decision of the appropriate government authority to undergo facility/ home quarantine/self-monitoring of their health for 14 days, or as warranted.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has partnered with IIHMR University in Jaipur to offer two online courses on "vaccine economics" for policymakers and programme managers to educate them on optimising vaccine coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to IIHMR University, the courses have already received 400 applications, out of which 230 participants from the field of immunisation and vaccine delivery have been short-listed. The participants are from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Somalia. From India, 53 participants have been selected to attend the programmes, out of 64 who expressed interest.

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