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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Covid-19 India HIGHLIGHTS: US death toll nears 500,000

Five states -- Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh -- have been witnessing an upsurge in daily cases amid rising fears of the spread of new variants.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: February 23, 2021 8:42:27 am
Ninety deaths were reported on Saturday. (Express Photo by Deepak Joshi)

Just over a year after the day the coronavirus pandemic claimed its first known US victims in Santa Clara County, California, the country on Monday neared 500,000 COVID-19 deaths with its death toll standing at 499,510, reported Reuter’s.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah Monday reviewed the COVID-19 situation in the country in the wake of spike in cases in a few states. The ongoing vaccination drive and the steps needed to check further spread of the virus were discussed in the meeting, which was attended by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and top officials of the two ministries, the official said.

Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Chhagan Bhujbal tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, he wrote on Twitter, urging people to exercise caution against the virus.  “Everyone who has come in contact with me in the last two or three days should have their corona tested. My health is good and there is no reason to worry. All citizens should take proper care of the corona,” he said.

India’s case tally crossed 1.1 crore as it recorded 14,199 new Covid-19 infections in the 24 hours ending 8 am Monday. With 83 new fatalities, the death toll is over 1.56 lakh. Current active cases have gone up to more than 1.5 lakh, a level seen three weeks ago. Over 1.11 crore people have been vaccinated till now. Maharashtra reported close to 7,000 cases on Sunday, the highest since October 23.

The Centre on Sunday told 5 states, that are experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases — Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh — to improve testing, ensure strict measures in containment zones and monitor mutant strains. 

Live Blog

Maharashtra reimposed Covid-19 restrictions in 5 districts; India's tally at over 1.09 crore, 1.56 lakh fatalities; 1.08 crore citizens vaccinated till now. 

01:41 (IST)23 Feb 2021
‘New Indian strains could be highly transmissible’

On February 12, there were 33 patients from Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal admitted to the dedicated Covid Hospital at PGIMER. The number grew to 44 by February 18. 

And now, according to Professor Jagat Ram, director, PGIMER, there are more than 55 Covid positive patients admitted to the hospital.

“We have seen the increase in the last 10 days. I would term it a significant number, keeping in view the new Indian strains, which could be highly transmissible and also the strain from the UK. Though yet not known, these fast-spreading strains could result in higher mortality and this rise in numbers could convert into a second wave, which we must prevent with collective efforts,” Dr Ram said. Read More

01:39 (IST)23 Feb 2021
‘New Indian strains could be highly transmissible’

On February 12, there were 33 patients from Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal admitted to the dedicated Covid Hospital at PGIMER. The number grew to 44 by February 18. 

And now, according to Professor Jagat Ram, director, PGIMER, there are more than 55 Covid positive patients admitted to the hospital.

“We have seen the increase in the last 10 days. I would term it a significant number, keeping in view the new Indian strains, which could be highly transmissible and also the strain from the UK. Though yet not known, these fast-spreading strains could result in higher mortality and this rise in numbers could convert into a second wave, which we must prevent with collective efforts,” Dr Ram said. Read More

00:55 (IST)23 Feb 2021
New report shows Covid mortality in Pune down, early patient management important

A state analysis of Covid-19 infections shows that case fatality rate (CFR) between February 15 and 21 was 0.67 per cent. 

State surveillance experts said an additional two to three weeks will provide an accurate picture on the severity of the disease due to new infections. 

“While there is a definite rise in cases, we cannot say the virulence has increased,” Dr Pradeep Awate, state surveillance officer, told The Indian Express.  Read More

00:16 (IST)23 Feb 2021
Pune: Most calls on helplines related to vaccine anxiety, unemployment, exam-related stress

With the rise in Covid-19 cases, stress and anxiety are clearly at play, especially among students preparing for class X and XII exams, say experts.

The Sassoon General Hospital and 104 Health Advice Call Centre, apart from Connecting NGO that works towards preventing suicides, said there was a spike in the number of calls pertaining to Covid-19 vaccination, its side effects and exam-related stress. Read more

23:37 (IST)22 Feb 2021
BJP ex-MP booked for violation of Covid norms

The Pune city police has booked former BJP MP Dhananjay Mahadik and two others, including owner and manager of the Lakshmi Lawns in Hadapsar, for alleged violation of norms laid down in the view of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Police said nearly a thousand people had gathered for the marriage reception of Mahadik’s son on Sunday at Lakshmi lawns in Magarpatta. Top political leaders from the state from various parties had attended the reception.

Police said preventive measures, such as maintaining social distancing, were not followed during the event following which an offence was lodged at the Hadapsar police station Monday under sections of the Indian Penal Code and National Disaster Management Act, police added. ENS

22:49 (IST)22 Feb 2021
In Gujarat, over 85% healthcare, frontline workers have received their first shot: Govt

Over 85 per cent of those registered for the state Covid-19 vaccination drive in each of the two categories of healthcare workers and frontline workers have been inoculated with their first shots, the state health department said on Monday. 

The Centre has notified states to get ready for the third phase of vaccination, targeting those aged above 50 years. However, as per Gujarat Immunisation Officer Nayan Jani, no official communication has been received regarding when the elderly population would receive their first shot in March. "We have only been told to be ready, we do not know yet when the third phase vaccination will start."

As per Jani, of the approximate 4.80 lakh registered healthcare workers, "more than 4.15 lakh have received the first shot and nearly 66,000 have received the second dose." Of the nearly five lakh frontline workers registered for the drive in Gujarat -- which began on January 31 -- around 4.30 lakh have already been covered, added Jani. ENS

21:59 (IST)22 Feb 2021
US death toll nears 500,000

Just over a year after the day the coronavirus pandemic claimed its first known US victims in Santa Clara County, California, the country on Monday neared 500,000 COVID-19 deaths with its death toll standing at 499,510, reported Reuters.

21:04 (IST)22 Feb 2021
In Kerala, 2,212 new cases, 16 deaths; test positivity rate dips below 6%

Kerala registered 2,212 new cases of COVID-19 and 16 fatalities on Monday. A total of 5,037 patients recovered from the infection taking the active caseload to 55,468. The death toll climbed to 4,105.

A total of 1,987 cases were reported to have been transmitted due to contact with the infected whereas the source of 169 cases could not be traced. The test positivity rate stood at 5.81% with 38,103 samples tested in the last 24 hours. This is the first time in over three months that the positivity rate has dipped below 6%.

Kozhikode reported the highest number of cases (374), followed by Alappuzha (266) and Ernakulam (246). A total of 22 health workers tested positive for the virus today. Two passengers who had travelled from the UK recently have also tested positive.  For all updates on Covid situation in Kerala, click here

20:42 (IST)22 Feb 2021
Karnataka: No restrictions on inter-state travel, says health minister

The Karnataka Health Minister on Monday clarified that there are no restrictions on travel to Maharashtra and Kerala, but the RT-PCR test report is compulsory while entering Karnataka.

Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar, also said that the government is taking measures to prevent a second possible Covid wave in the state.

Last week, the Karnataka government had made it mandatory for people arriving from Kerala and Maharashtra to carry a negative RT-PCR test report not older than 72 hours, following the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in those states. For all updates on Covid situation in Karnataka, click here

20:33 (IST)22 Feb 2021
COVID-19: 83 new cases in Rajasthan; no fresh death

No fresh COVID-19 death was recorded in Rajasthan on Monday while the death toll in the state stands at 2,785, according to a health department bulletin. The state reported 83 new cases which pushed the infection tally to 3,19,626. There are 1,206 active COVID-91 cases in the state. According to the bulletin, 3,15,635 people have been discharged after treatment till now. So far, 518 people have died in Jaipur, 305 in Jodhpur, 222 in Ajmer, 169 in Kota, 167 in Bikaner, 120 in Bharatpur, 123 in Udaipur, 109 in Pali and 101 in Sikar. The new cases include 25 in Jaipur, 12 in Jodhpur, seven each in Bhilwara and Sriganganagar, three in Udaipur. --PTI

19:30 (IST)22 Feb 2021
Day after attending wedding of NCP MLA with Pawar, Bhujbal tests positive for Covid-19

A day after attending the wedding of a party MLA along with NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Maharashtra Food and Civil Supplies Minister Chhagan Bhujbal on Monday said he has tested positive for coronavirus. Bhujbal is the latest amongst a number of senior NCP leaders who have tested positive for the infection in the last fortnight.

Bhujbal had attended the wedding of NCP MLA from Deolali, Saroj Ahire, who got married in Chandshi near Nashik on Sunday. While Ahire maintained that not more than 50 people were allowed entry into the marriage hall at any given point of time, Bhujbal was present at the venue along with the 80-year-old Sharad Pawar. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Deputy Speaker of Maharashtra Assembly Narhari Jhirwal had also attended the wedding. Read more

18:59 (IST)22 Feb 2021
Amit Shah reviews coronavirus situation as some states report spike in cases

Union Home Minister Amit Shah Monday reviewed the COVID-19 situation in the country in the wake of spike in cases in a few states, PTI reported. The ongoing vaccination drive and the steps needed to check further spread of the virus were discussed in the meeting, which was attended by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and top officials of the two ministries, the official said.

17:26 (IST)22 Feb 2021
Top 10 developments in Covid situation today

  • India’s case tally crosses 1.1 crore with 14,199 new Covid-19 infections; death toll over 1.56 lakh
  • As corona cases surge in Kerala, Tamil Nadu steps up vigil at borders
  • Herd immunity difficult to achieve: AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria
  • Metro, buses in Delhi to run at current limited capacities for at least 2 more weeks
  • 36% rise in active COVID-19 cases in Mumbai since Feb 8: BMC
  • Global cases stand at 111,430,134, toll exceeds 24 lakh
  • US coronavirus death toll approaches milestone of 500,000
  • Boris Johnson to lay out ‘cautious' roadmap for easing UK lockdown
  • Russia's COVID-19 vaccination drive slowly picking up speed
  • Indian-American physicians volunteer to help authorities in US administer COVID-19 vaccines

14:25 (IST)22 Feb 2021
Herd immunity difficult to achieve: AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria

Herd immunity is “very difficult” to achieve and one should not think of it in “practical terms” in India, especially in the times of “variant strains” of COVID-19 and “waning immunity”, claimed AIIMS director Randeep Guleria on Sunday.

Guleria was speaking at the ongoing edition of Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) in a session on his book “Till We Win: India’s Fight Against The Covid-19 Pandemic” — co-authored by public policy and health systems expert Chandrakant Lahariya and renowned vaccine researcher and virologist Gagandeep Kang.”

“Herd immunity is something that is going to be very, very difficult to achieve and it is something one should not really think of in practical terms… because the variant strains and varying immunity with times can lead to a chance where people may have reinfection or get infection again,” the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) director said. 

14:21 (IST)22 Feb 2021
Covid protocols: K'taka closes borders with Kerala again

With the Karnataka government reinstating stricter control of transit passengers from Kerala in view of increasing COVID-19 positive cases, people here bound to Mangaluru and other parts of Dakshina Kannada for various purposes including medical needs and studies are in a fix again. Long queues of vehicles could be seen in the border areas since morning as Karnataka authorities sealed many roads including national highways and restricted entry only for those with Covid-19 negative certificates.

The Dakshina Kannada authorities sealed all borders from Monday except four to cross over, sources said. According to Karnataka officials at the borders, those who wish to enter have to produce Covid-19 negative certificate through an RT-PCR test taken 72 hours prior to their cross over time.

Health and police personnel are on duty at the four borders, viz.Talapady in Mangalore taluk, Saradka in Bantwal, Nettanige-Mudnuru in Puttur taluk and Jalsoor in Sullia, to verify and allow people's entry into Karnataka. (PTI)

13:27 (IST)22 Feb 2021
As Maharashtra sees Covid-19 spike, state leaders cancel public meetings

Citing the rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in the past few days, political leaders including NCP chief Sharad Pawar have started cancelling their scheduled public functions across the state. State Health Minister Rajesh Tope, State Minister and Maharashtra NCP chief Jayant Patil, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, State Minister Bacchu Kadu have tested positive for Covid-19 and are in isolation, while State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh too was infected with the disease recently and is now completely recovered. “In the backdrop of increasing Covid-19 spread and the appeal made by chief minister as well as deputy chief minister, I have cancelled all my planned public functions,” Pawar tweeted.

12:30 (IST)22 Feb 2021
Explained: New Covid-19 spike shows India not near herd immunity

The rising coronavirus numbers in Maharashtra and some other states show that we are still far away from attaining herd immunity levels, at least in these states.

The spectacular fall in numbers in India for nearly five months, including in the states that are showing a resurgence now, had led to the belief that the infection levels in the country had probably already reached a level where the effects of herd immunity had started to play out. That was also because there was no good explanation — there still isn’t — to account for the sustained decline in numbers for a prolonged period. The testing rate had not dropped significantly, lockdown restrictions had been eased, festivals and elections had seen people coming out in large numbers, political activities had restarted, a farmers’ protest had been going on, and the adherence to norms of physical distancing or adoption of masks was not very high.

So, despite the lack of corroborative data from serosurveys, there were suggestions that a large proportion of the population could already have been infected, far beyond the numbers that have been detected through testing, and that is what was resulting in the steady decline in numbers. (Read Amitabh Sinha's explainer here) 

10:19 (IST)22 Feb 2021
Maharashtra Minister Chhagan Bhujbal tests positive for Covid-19

Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Chhagan Bhujbal tested positive for Covid-19 on monday, he wrote on Twitter.  "Everyone who has come in contact with me in the last two or three days should have their corona tested. My health is good and there is no reason to worry. All citizens should take proper care of the corona," he said.

09:32 (IST)22 Feb 2021
India records over 14,000 Covid cases, 83 deaths

ndia recorded 14,199 new Covid-19 cases along with 83 deaths in the 24 hours ending 8 am Monday. With this, India's total is over 1.10 crore with current active cases at over 1.50 lakh cases. Over 1.11 crore people have been vaccinated till now.

08:44 (IST)22 Feb 2021
Phase 2 of vaccination drive to begin early next month: 60-plus first, free shots not for all

The next phase of vaccination against Covid-19 — of about 27 crore beneficiaries of ages 50 years and older — will have two groups: those who will get the vaccine for free, and those who will have to pay, The Indian Express has learnt.

The vaccination of this group will begin early next month — and those above the age of 60 will be prioritised.
The government has also decided that in the second phase of inoculation, beneficiaries can choose to get their shots in a state different from the one to which they belong according to the electoral roll, senior officials said. (Read Kaunain Sheriff's report here)



A special squad of the BMC fine people who without masks inside Railway Compartments at CSMT station, Mumbai on Saturday. (Express photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

It has also written to all states to significantly enhance the pace of Covid-19 vaccinations,noting that a large number of healthcare and frontline workers still remain to be covered.

This comes as the second phase of the vaccination drive -- for about 27 crore people above the age of 50 -- is set to commence in the first week of March. Persons above the age of 60 will be allowed to register first.

Pune announced new Covid-19 restrictions on Sunday including a limited night curfew with effect from February 22, closing of schools and colleges among other things. Maharashtra has re-imposed strict restrictions in five of its districts — Amravati, Akola, Yavatmal, Buldana and Washim — with a “partial lockdown” in two of them. Mumbai, on the other hand, will not undergo another lockdown and will instead focus on increasing testing and strict implementation of face masks, officials from BMC said on Saturday.

No lockdown plan in Mumbai for now; testing, masks focus: BMC

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has no plans for a lockdown in Mumbai for now and will instead focus on two interventions—increased testing and treatment, and strict implementation of face masks in public places—a top official said Saturday.

Mumbai recorded 897 new Covid cases on Saturday taking total count to 20.93 lakh. Fatality due to Covid-19, however, remained constant at 3 on Saturday. Deaths may rise in the coming days given the spike in cases, say doctors.

Covid effect: Underfed animals, dip in herd size fuel surge in milk price

Milk prices generally rise during summers, when buffaloes and cows produce less, and ease during the winter-spring months, when they calve and reach peak lactation.

This natural cycle has, however, reversed in 2020-21. Sanjay Belhe is today receiving Rs 26 per litre for cow milk with 3.5% fat and 8.5% SNF (solids-not-fat) content that he is supplying to the Shree Warana cooperative dairy in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur district. In April-May last year, the dairy was paying him Rs 18/litre for the same milk.

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