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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Coronavirus Highlights: Centre, ICMR ask states to ramp up testing

The 11-lakh mark comes three days after the country reported 10 lakh cases. This is the first time that India has reported more than 40,000 infections.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 21, 2020 9:27:00 am
Doctors wearing PPE kit at LNJP Hospital in New Delhi

As India’s coronavirus infection number crossed 11-lakh on Monday, with a record single-day high of 40,425 cases being reported in the last 24 hours, the centre and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) asked states to ramp up their testing capacity. In a letter to the states and UTs, Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan and ICMR DG Dr Balram Bhargava have asked the states to add more labs and enhance the existing testing capacity of the approved labs.

There are 3,90,459 active cases in the country, while 7,00,086 people have recovered and one person has migrated. The recovery rate stands at 62.62 per cent. This is the first time that India has reported more than 40,000 infections. Globally, the pandemic has infected nearly 14.5 million people, with 6-lakh casualties.

The West Bengal government on Monday announced a complete lockdown in the containment zones in the state, that had been announced by the government last week. This week, a complete lockdown in containment zones will be enforced on Thursday and Saturday. State Home Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay added that the state recorded community transmission in some areas. He stated that the “chain needs to be broken”, explaining the implementation of the lockdown in containment zones across the state.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19) Tracker, India Lockdown News Highlights: Over 40,000 new cases in India; 14.5  million cases, 6 lakh deaths globally. Follow the latest news

22:12 (IST)20 Jul 2020
J&K witnesses highest single-day spike of cases

As Jammu and Kashmir continued witnessing spike in number of Coronavirus cases, the UT Government decided to impose fine ranging between Rs 500 to Rs 3,000 on people found violating the guidelines laid down by it to prevent spread of COVID-19. A notification issued by Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education Department Atal Duloo read that UT’s Lt Governor G C Murmu has authorized all the Deputy Commissioners to imposed fine of Rs 500 on anybody found not wearing a mask, or spitting in public places. The fine will be Rs 2,000 in case of one violating the home quarantine instructions, or owner of a shop/commercial places violating the social distancing norms, it added. However, in case of violation of social distancing norms by bus owners, the fine will be Rs 3,000, cars (Rs 2,000) and auto rickshaws/two-wheelers (Rs 500).

Jammu and Kashmir reported 751 new coronavirus cases on Monday, including 240 in Jammu region, the highest ever single day spike in the Union Territory so far. There were ten COVID-19 related deaths also in J&K including one in Jammu region, according to media bulletin issued by UT’s Health Department. Of the 511 COVID-19 infections reported during the day, Srinagar reported 171, followed by Pulwama (111), Ramban (90), Shopian (62), Baramulla (40) Udhampur (33) and Doda (32). Among those infected in Jammu region included 21 CRPF personnel and seven police personnel. With this, the number of active Coronavirus cases in J&K have risen to 6,122 and deaths to 254. 

- Inputs from Arun Sharma

21:54 (IST)20 Jul 2020
Govt warns against use of N-95 masks with valved respirator

The Centre has written to all states and union territories warning against the use of N-95 masks with valved respirator by people, saying these don't prevent the virus from spreading out and are "detrimental" to the measures adopted for its containment, news agency PTI reported. The Director General of Health Services in the Ministry of Health, in a letter to the Principal Secretaries of health and medical education of states, said it has been observed that there is "inappropriate use" of N-95 masks, particularly those with valved respirator, by the public other than designated health workers. The DGHS referred to the advisory on the use of homemade protective cover for face and mouth available on the website of the Ministry of Health.

"It is to bring to your knowledge that the use of valved respirator N-95 masks is detrimental to the measures adopted for preventing the spread of coronavirus as it does not prevent the virus from escaping out of the mask. In view of the above, I request you to instruct all concerned to follow the use of face/mouth cover and prevent inappropriate use of N-95 masks," DGHS Rajiv Garg said in the letter.

21:39 (IST)20 Jul 2020
Andhra Pradesh's coronavirus cases breach 50,000-mark

Andhra Pradesh's COVID-19 tally crossed the 50,000-mark on Monday as another 4,074 fresh cases were added in the state. The coronavirus death toll increased to 696 after 54 new casualties were reported in a day, according to the latest bulletin. As many as 1,335 patients got discharged from hospitals after recovering from the infection, the bulletin added. The total positive cases in the state touched 53,724 while it has 28,800 active cases after 24,228 recoveries. As per the bulletin, 33,580 samples were tested in the last 24 hours ending 9 am on Monday with 16,195 of them rapid antigen tests. Of the 4,074 new cases, 2,011 were rapid antigen positives, the bulletin added. (PTI)

20:52 (IST)20 Jul 2020
Delhi seems to have hit COVID-19 peak: AIIMS director Guleria

Delhi seems to have hit the COVID-19 peak with the number of daily cases declining significantly, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria said on Monday, but cautioned against any lowering of guard. He also said cases are increasing in certain states and they will reach a peak later, but there is not much evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 at the national level. "However, there are hotspots even in cities where there is a spike of cases, and it is likely that local transmission is happening in those areas that is why containment zones need aggressive action," he said.  Asked if COVID-19 cases in India have hit the peak, Guleria said, "My feeling is that certain areas have hit their peak. Delhi seems to have done so because the cases have declined significantly. But certain areas are yet to reach their peak. Cases are increasing in certain states. They will reach a peak later," he said. (PTI)

20:32 (IST)20 Jul 2020
AIIMS-Delhi begins recruiting volunteers for Covaxin human trials

AIIMS-Delhi on Monday began the process of recruiting volunteers for conducting human clinical trials of the indigenously developed COVID-19 vaccine candidate Covaxin, director Dr Randeep Guleria said. AIIMS-Delhi is among the 12 sites selected by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) for conducting Phase I and II randomised, double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical trials of Covaxin. In phase I, the vaccine would be tested on 375 volunteers and 100 of them, the highest, would be from AIIMS. The second phase, would include around 750 volunteers from all 12 sites put together, Guleria said while addressing reporters. Phase I of the vaccine trial will be done on healthy people, aged between 18 and 55 years, having no co-morbid conditions. Women with no pregnancy will also be selected to be a part of the trial in the first phase, he said. In the second phase, 750 people will be recruited and they will be between 12 and 65 years of age, Guleria said. (PTI)

20:16 (IST)20 Jul 2020
Maharashtra adds 8,240 new cases; deaths top 12,000

Maharashtra's COVID-19 tally rose to 3,18,695 on Monday with the addition of 8,240 new cases, while the death toll crossed the 12,000-mark, news agency PTI reported quoting state health department data. With 176 new deaths in a day, the state's fatality count increased to 12,030, the department said. A total of 5,460 patients were discharged from hospitals, taking the number of recovered persons to 1,75,029, the department said in a statement. There are 1,31,334 active cases in the state at present, it added.

19:48 (IST)20 Jul 2020
Union Health Secretary ICMR DG ask states to ramp up testing capacity

Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan and ICMR DG Dr Balram Bhargava have written to all States to ramp up testing capacity, reported news agency ANI.

19:44 (IST)20 Jul 2020
Sikkim govt announces complete lockdown July 21-27

Sikkim government on Monday announced a complete lockdown in the state from 6 am on July 21 to 6 am on July 27.

19:25 (IST)20 Jul 2020
Centre needs to accept community spread happening, ramp-up testing: Sanjay Singh

The Centre needs to accept that community spread of the coronavirus is happening in the country and follow Delhi's lead in containing the virus by ramping-up testing "on a large scale", senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh said on Monday. The Rajya Sabha MP said people are not realising that the community spread is underway and hence contracting the virus. "(If) you are not able to find information on the source of the infection so that is community spread," he said at a press briefing. "The Centre needs to accept that community spread is taking place and ramp-up testing on a large scale and more testing kits must be made available. They must replicate what the Delhi government did," Singh said. (PTI)

19:24 (IST)20 Jul 2020
Oxford-AstraZeneca covid vaccine study shows dual immune action

A coronavirus vaccine the University of Oxford is developing with AstraZeneca Plc showed promising results in early human testing, a sign of progress in the high-stakes pursuit of a shot to defeat the pathogen. The vaccine increased levels of both protective neutralizing antibodies and immune T-cells that target the virus, according to the study organizers. The results were published Monday in The Lancet medical journal. 

“We are seeing very good immune responses, not just on neutralizing antibodies but of T-cells as well,” said Adrian Hill, head of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, in an interview. “We’re stimulating both arms of the immune system.” The results will be closely scrutinized as governments around the world seek to end a pandemic that’s killed more than 600,000 people and triggered economic turmoil since erupting earlier this year. Moderna Inc., another front-runner, released results last week from an early-stage test that showed its vaccine raised levels of antibodies that fight the virus.

19:00 (IST)20 Jul 2020
Community transmission recorded in a few areas in West Bengal: Govt

Stating that community transmission of Covid-19 had been recorded in a few areas in West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee government on Monday announced a complete lockdown in containment zones across the state for two days every week amid a surge in cases.

“There are a few places in the state where community transmission of COVID-19 has been detected. After talking to experts, doctors, enforcement authorities, and the police, we have decided to impose complete lockdown for two days every week in the entire state to break the chain (of transmission),” Home Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said while addressing a press conference.

18:38 (IST)20 Jul 2020
954 fresh cases take Delhi tally to 1,23,747

Delhi recorded 954 fresh coronavirus cases on Monday, taking the tally in the city to over 1.23 lakh, while the death toll from the disease rose to 3,663, news agency PTI reported quoting authorities. For the last nine days, fresh cases were being reported in the range of 1,000-2,000 consecutively. On Monday, the cases dipped to three-figure count. Thirty-five fatalities have been recorded in the last 24 hours, according to the Delhi health department bulletin. The active cases tally on Monday was 15,166, down from 16,031, the previous day. Delhi had crossed the 1,000-mark in COVID-19 tally on April 11.

18:31 (IST)20 Jul 2020
IndiGo announces pay cuts, leave without pay; to slash 10 per cent work force

Budget-carrier IndiGo announced pay cuts, leave without pay, and other cost-cutting measures amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In a press release, the carrier said, "We did have to undertake a number of measures such as Pay Cuts, Leave Without Pay and various other costs; but unfortunately, these cost savings are clearly not enough to offset the decline in revenues. And from where things stand currently, it is impossible for our company to fly through this economic storm without making some sacrifices, in order to sustain our business operations." "Therefore, after carefully assessing and reviewing all possible scenarios, it is clear that we will need to bid a painful adieu to 10 per cent of our workforce," it added.

18:12 (IST)20 Jul 2020
Another BJP MLA tests positive in Assam

The BJP MLA from Assam's Dispur constituency has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been admitted to a hospital here for treatment, officials said on Monday. The MLA, Atul Bora, is the fifth from the ruling party to have tested positive for the contagious disease. Bora tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday night and was admitted to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) on Monday morning for treatment, a senior official of Kamrup Metropolitan district said. Formerly with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Bora joined the BJP before the 2016 state assembly polls and won the prestigious Dispur seat. (PTI)

17:30 (IST)20 Jul 2020
Community transmission recorded in few areas in West Bengal

West Bengal Home Secretary Alapan Bandyapadhyay on Monday said that the state recorded community transmission in some areas. "Community transmission of COVID-19 has been recorded in a few areas in West Bengal," the minister said.

17:16 (IST)20 Jul 2020
51 new COVID-19 cases in Aurangabad, tally rises to 10,854

The number of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra's Aurangabad district rose to 10,854 after 51 more people tested positive for the disease on Monday, an official said. Three more deaths due to COVID-19 were also reported in the district, taking the toll to 399, he said. Out of the 51 new cases, 17 were reported from Aurangabad city and 23 from rural parts of the district. The other 11 cases were found during rapid-antigen tests at checkposts set up by the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation. As of now, there are 4,314 active cases in the district, while 6,141 patients have been discharged after recovery, the official said. (PTI)

17:07 (IST)20 Jul 2020
Pune housing society converts club house into isolation unit

Amidst reports of a shortage of beds for COVID-19 patients in hospitals here in Maharashtra, a housing society has converted its clubhouse into an isolation facility. The facility in Sigma One Housing Society in Kothrud area houses six beds, an oxygen cylinder, and concentrator, side tables, wheel-chairs, and medicines. It took just four days for members of the society to make necessary arrangements after the idea was suggested by Dr Abhijeet Mantri, an ENT surgeon and a resident of the housing complex. The facility will cater to members of the society and office-bearers when needed. District collector Naval Kishore Ram has welcomed the efforts, but said such facilities set up in housing societies cannot be recognised as a hospital.

16:55 (IST)20 Jul 2020
Complete lockdown in Bengal containment zones for two days

As cases continue to rise in West Bengal, state Home Secretary Alapan Bandyapadhyay on Monday announced a complete lockdown in the containment zones in the state, that had been announced by the government last week. This week, a complete lockdown in containment zones will be enforced on Thursday and Saturday.

16:41 (IST)20 Jul 2020
Bharatsinh Solanki on ventilator support

Former Gujarat Congress President Bharatsinh Solanki, who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus infection last month, is currently on ventilator support at Ahmedabad's CIMS hospital, his spokesperson said. The statement added that the leader is on C-PAP support while doctors are attending to him and trying to reduce the dependence on ventilator. "He is now on lower sedation and is able to move his arms and follow instructions. His vitals are stable," the statement added.

16:25 (IST)20 Jul 2020
Three days after reporting 10 lakh cases, India's COVID cases cross 11-lakh mark

India's coronavirus infection number crossed 11-lakh on Monday, with a record single-day high of 40,425 cases being reported in the last 24 hours, health ministry data said. With 681 fresh fatalities, the death toll rose to 27,497. The 11-lakh mark comes three days after the country reported 10 lakh cases. There are 3,90,459 active cases in the country, while 7,00,086 people have recovered and one person has migrated. The recovery rate stands at 62.62 per cent.

Of the 681 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, 258 were reported from Maharashtra, 91 from Karnataka, 78 from Tamil Nadu, 56 from Andhra Pradesh, 38 from Uttar Pradesh, 36 from West Bengal, 31 from Delhi, 20 from Gujarat and 15 from Madhya Pradesh. The total fatalities in one day include nine from Bihar, eight each from Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, six each from Rajasthan and Telangana, five each from Haryana and Odisha, four from Assam, three from Jharkhand, two from Kerala, and one each from Goa and Ladakh.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a cumulative total of 1,40,47,908 samples have been tested up to July 19 with 2,56,039 samples being tested on Sunday.

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Budget-carrier IndiGo announced pay cuts, leave without pay, and other cost-cutting measures amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In a press release, the carrier said, "We did have to undertake a number of measures such as Pay Cuts, Leave Without Pay and various other costs." "Therefore, after carefully assessing and reviewing all possible scenarios, it is clear that we will need to bid a painful adieu to 10 per cent of our workforce," it added.

Meanwhile, with the cases of novel coronavirus infection rising in the southern state of Kerala, the state government is now making arrangements to treat 50,000 patients at a time, news agency PTI reported on Monday. State Health Minister K K Shailaja said experts have forecast a surge in the number of cases next month but sounded confident that the government can manage any such situation with the measures being taken by it.

The lockdown imposed in Kalaburagi district has been extended till the midnight of July 27 by district administration. According to an order issued by Kalaburagi Deputy Commissioner, B Sharat, the decision to extend the lockdown was taken as the number of COVID-19 cases in the district is increasing.

Maharashtra has reported the highest number of cases, followed by Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. The recovery rate stands at 62.61 per cent.

Kalaburagi district in North Karnataka reported 69 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The district has a total of 2743 COVID-19 cases so far, this includes 1,771 cured and discharged patients, and 926 active cases. 46 deaths have been reported due to the virus, taking the toll to 789 in the district.

Among the southern states, while Telangana has shown a slowdown, Andhra Pradesh showed an unusually high rise in its daily cases, reporting close to 4,000 new infections, while Tamil Nadu and Karnataka also recorded their highest single-day numbers. Tamil Nadu has remained the second-largest contributor of Coronavirus cases for a long time, even though its growth rate has dropped off in the last couple of weeks. But the other states, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana started to grow at a rapid pace only recently, from the start of this month.

The national capital, on the other hand is projecting an uplifting trend. For 17 of the last 20 days, including 11 in a row now, the number of people recovering from Covid in Delhi has remained higher than newly detected infections -- no other state has come close to such a trend.

The number of cases in Mumbai, the capital state of Maharashtra, crossed 1 lakh on Saturday. Maharashtra's tally breached 3 lakh-mark and reached 3,00,937 as the state recorded 8,348 fresh cases, the health department said.

Ahead of Bakri Eid and Ganesh festivals, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray reiterated that religious, social and political gatherings will remain prohibited in the state in view of the rising infections. Addressing collectors and municipal commissioners via a virtual meeting, Thackeray called for replication of the Dharavi model at other places in the state to control the coronavirus outbreak.

India is the third country in the world, after the US and Brazil, to cross the 10 lakh mark in Covid-19 cases. The country reached this grim milestone merely three days after it crossed the 9 lakh mark. Currently, India has 3,42,473 active cases. Over 6.35 lakh coronavirus patients have been cured/discharged/migrated since Thursday.

Compared to the world average, India’s mortality rate is much lower. While globally the mortality rate of the disease is about 4.3 per cent, in India it has dropped to 2.55 per cent. Meanwhile, the US, which has seen the maximum number of deaths, more than 1.35 lakh, has a mortality rate of about 3.98. With over 74,000 deaths, Brazil has a mortality rate of 3.84 per cent.

British scientists: No normality until vaccine

British scientists are dismissing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s hope the country may emerge from coronavirus lockdown and return to normality by Christmas.

Johnson has announced more easing of restrictions, with people urged to return to public transit and workplaces.

He says sports fans should return to stadiums by October and remaining restrictions could be lifted from November, possibly in time for Christmas.

“But epidemiologist John Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies,” says a return to pre-pandemic normality wouldn’t be possible until there’s a vaccine for the virus.

He says a world where people can go to work normally, travel on the buses and trains, go on holiday without restrictions, meet friends, shake hands, hug each other and so on that’s a long way off, unfortunately.

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