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Coronavirus August 15 Updates: State leaders call for fight against virus on I-Day; Bihar tally crosses one lakh

The country reported 996 fresh fatalities in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 49,036.

Frontline COVID-19 warriors prepare for a felicitation programme to celebrate Independence Day in Kolkata

Even as India recorded a single-day spike of 65,002 fresh cases of the novel coronavirus infection in the past 24 hours, the country’s recovery rate rose to 71.61 per cent on Saturday. This comes after a record 57,381 patients were discharged in the past 24 hours. According to the health ministry data, the number of people in India who have recuperated from COVID-19 went past 18 lakh. The total number of cases in India stands at 25,26,193 including 49,036 deaths.

Earlier today, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the government will not open schools unless it is “fully convinced” about the improved COVID-19 situation in the national capital. Kejriwal added that the situation is under control as compared to what it was two months back and thanked all the stakeholders, including the central government, ‘corona warriors’, and different organisations.

Meanwhile, the country celebrated its 74th Independence Day today amid the coronavirus pandemic with the revelries and crowds missing as state leaders urged people not to fear the disease and called for a mass awareness movement to combat it. Official celebrations in most states were restricted to unfurling of the national flag and chief ministers and governors addressing the people, with fewer guests in attendance.

Globally, more than 21 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus, with at least 7,59,411 deaths, according to a Reuters tally. The United States has the highest number of confirmed cases at 5,271,087, followed by Brazil (3,224,876), and India (2,461,190).

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Coronavirus (Covid-19) India News: Over 2.5 million cases in India; PM Modi says three vaccines being tested. Get latest updates here.

21:58 (IST)15 Aug 2020
Subdued I-Day celebrations in India amid pandemic, state leaders call for fight against COVID-19

India celebrated its 74th Independence Day on Saturday amid the coronavirus pandemic with the revelries and crowds missing as state leaders urged people not to fear the disease and called for a mass awareness movement to combat it. Official celebrations in most states were restricted to unfurling of the national flag and chief ministers and governors addressing the people, with fewer guests in attendance.

20:51 (IST)15 Aug 2020
12,614 new coronavirus cases in Maharashtra, 322 deaths

Maharashtra's coronavirus case tally increased to 5,84,754 on Saturday with the addition of 12,614 new cases, the state health department said. With 322 COVID-19 patients dying during the day, the death toll due to the pandemic rose to 19,749, the
department said.

A total of 6,844 patients were discharged from hospitals on Saturday, taking the number of recovered persons
to 4,08,286, it said in a statement.There are 1,56,409 active cases in the state at present, it added.

Maharashtra's coronavirus figures: Total cases 5,84,754, new cases 12,614, total deaths 19,749, active cases 1,56,409, recovered: 4,08,286.

20:45 (IST)15 Aug 2020
Kolkata: Frontline warriors preparing for a felicitation programme to celebrate I-Day

Frontline COVID-19 warriors like crematorium workers,ambulance drivers wearing personal protective suits preparing for a felicitation programme to celebrate Independence day in Kolkata on Saturday, August 15, 2020.Express photo by Partha Paul. 

18:44 (IST)15 Aug 2020
Maharashtra minister Balasaheb Patil tests positive for coronavirus

Maharashtra Cooperation Minister Balasaheb Patil has tested positive for coronavirus infection and is undergoing treatment at a hospital in Karad. According to a statement issued by Patil's office, the NCP leader tested positive for the infection on Friday night and has been admitted to Krushna Hospital in Karad.

The minister is "stable, is being treated properly and there is nothing to worry", the statement quoted Patil's son as saying. Patil, who is also the guardian minister of Satara, has urged people who had come in contact with him recently to get themselves tested and remain in isolation for at least a week, the statement said. Earlier, Maharashtra ministers Ashok Chavan and Aslam Shaikh of the Congress, Jitendra Awhad, Dhananjay Munde and Sanjay Bansode of the NCP and Abdul Sattar of the Shiv Sena had tested positive for the disease and recovered from it.

18:25 (IST)15 Aug 2020
Bihar COVID-19 tally crosses one lakh, death toll rises to 515

Bihar on Saturday became the eighth state in the country to have reported more than one lakh COVID-19 cases. The state's COVID-19 death toll rose to 515 after 15 people succumbed to the disease, a bulletin issued by the department said. With 3,536 fresh infections, the total caseload of Bihar has gone up to 1,01,906, it said. The state also conducted record 1.61 lakh sample tests in the last 24 hours. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are the other seven states that had reported more than one lakh coronavirus cases. 

17:38 (IST)15 Aug 2020
SP Balasubrahmanyam’s health condition stable, continues to be on life support

Singer-actor SP Balasubrahmanyam, who was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on Friday after his health suffered a setback on August 13, is stable now. SPB was admitted to MGM Healthcare in Chennai earlier this month after testing positive for coronavirus. A statement released by MGM Healthcare read, “Thiru SP Balasubrahmanyam who is admitted at MGM Healthcare due to Covid 19 continues to be on life support in Intensive Care Unit (ICU). He remains stable and the doctors are closely monitoring his clinical parameters.” 

16:11 (IST)15 Aug 2020
Over 18 lakh people recovered from virus, rate rises to 71.61%

The number of people in India who have recuperated from COVID-19 went past 18 lakh on Saturday with a record 57,381 patients discharged in 24 hours pushing the recovery rate to 71.61 per cent, according to the health ministry data. India's 'test, track and treat' strategy has achieved another peak with 8,68,679 COVID-19 tests done in a 24 hours taking the cumulative tests done till Friday to more than 2.85 crore, the ministry said. Twelve states and union territories have reported their recovery rates above the national average. In 30 states and UTs the COVID-19 recovery rate is more than 50 per cent, it highlighted. Delhi has the highest recovery rate of 89.87 per cent followed by Tamil Nadu at 81.62 per cent, Gujarat 77.53 per cent, Madhya Pradesh 74.70 per cent, West Bengal 73.25 per cent, Rajasthan 72.84 per cent, Telangana 72.72 per cent and Odisha 71.98 per cent. With more patients recovering and being discharged from hospitals and home isolation, the total number of recoveries have surged to 18,08,936.  

14:37 (IST)15 Aug 2020
Like 'Quit India', campaign needed against COVID-19: Rupani

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Saturday called for a mass awareness campaign on the lines of the Quit India Movement against the British in order to drive out coronavirus from the state and the country. Speaking at the Independence Day function at Swarnim Park in Gandhinagar, he said that while the pandemic had slowed down the pace of development in the state, his government was committed to make up for it. "To achieve independence and drive out the British, the entire country resonated with the slogan of Quit India. As a result, the British left the country and we got freedom. Likewise, let's start a mass awareness campaign to free the country and Gujarat of coronavirus," he said. (PTI)

14:18 (IST)15 Aug 2020
Record 2,496 new COVID-19 cases in Odisha push tally to 57,126

Odisha on Saturday reported record 2,496 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking the state's tally to 57,126, a health department official said. Nine more coronavirus patients also succumbed to the disease, following which the death toll rose to 333, he said. Of the new patients, 1,591 were reported from among the people lodged in different quarantine centres, while 905 were detected during contact tracing. The fresh cases were found in 29 of the state's 30 districts. (PTI)

13:55 (IST)15 Aug 2020
India COVID numbers explained: Mizoram only state with less than 1,000 cases

The discovery of 148 new infections took the total number of confirmed cases novel Coronavirus in Sikkim to 1,080, leaving Mizoram as the only state in India with less than 1,000 cases now. Of course, Lakshadweep continues to be the Coronavirus-free, with no cases having been detected on the islands so far. Friday’s rise was unusual in Sikkim, which has been adding cases mostly in lower double digits. Only once earlier has the number of new infections been more than 100, while on another occasion 95 cases were detected. In Mizoram, 657 people have so far been found to have been infected with the virus. Read the analysis here

13:24 (IST)15 Aug 2020
Arunachal CM urges people to adapt to 'new normal' to defeat COVID

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Saturday urged the people of the state to adapt to the 'new normal' to curb the spread of COVID-19. He said people must adhere to safety measures like hand sanitisation, wearing face masks, and maintaining social distancing to defeat COVID. Khandu said the state government has been able to control the spread of the infection with the support of various stakeholders including frontline workers. He added that the imposition of the nationwide lockdown on March 24 gave the state government time to prepare for combating the disease.

13:18 (IST)15 Aug 2020
Here are some of the top developments from across the globe
  • Mexico's top health official claims coronavirus has peaked - According to a top health official in Mexico, the country has reached the peak of the epidemic. The country recorded 5,618 new cases on Friday, bringing its total caseload to 5,11,369. “We have now had a maximum point in the curve,” Mexico’s Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatel said. “This is a phenomenon that is going to be with us in the whole world for several years.”
  • California becomes first US state to cross 600,000 cases - California has become the first state in the US to record more than 600,000 Covid-19 cases. The state’s caseload now stands at 602,997, CNN reported. At least 10,999 residents of California have succumbed to the virus since the pandemic began. California Governor Gavin Newsom said hospitalisation and ICU rates were steadily decreasing in the state.
  • New Zealand records 7 new cases - New Zealand reported as many as seven new Covid-19 infections on Friday, amidst the Pacific nation’s first resurgence of cases in months. With these new cases, New Zealand’s total virus caseload now stands at 1,258, according to a Reuters tally. Its death toll has risen to 22. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Friday announced that she was extending the lockdown in Auckland — the country’s biggest city — by 12 days, in an attempt to contain the spread of the deadly virus.
  • Ukraine sees new record daily high of 1,847 cases - Ukraine registered 1,847 new coronavirus cases since Friday, a new daily record for the country, Ukranian health authorities confirmed. With this, the country has recorded a total of 89,719 cases of the novel coronavirus and 2,044 deaths, Reuters reported. The country has witnessed a sharp increase in cases ever since the Ukranian government eased lockdown restrictions and reopened cafes, churches and public transport.
  • China reports 22 new cases - China reported 22 new coronavirus cases on Friday, a slight drop from the 30 cases recorded a day before. At least 14 of the new infections were imported, Reuters reported. Further, 20 new asymptomatic cases were also detected on Friday. So far, the country has recorded 84,808 confirmed cases of Covid-19, the country’s health authority said. China’s death toll stands at 4,634.

More global updates here

13:04 (IST)15 Aug 2020
Will not open schools in Delhi unless fully convinced: Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said that the government will not open schools unless it is "fully convinced" of the COVID situation in the national capital, PTI reported. Kejriwal added that the situation is under control as compared to what it was two months back and thanked all the stakeholders, including the central government, ‘corona warriors’, and different organisations. "I meet people and get messages from them asking not to open schools. I want to assure them that we care about their children as much as they do. Unless fully convinced, we are not going to open the schools," he said.

12:30 (IST)15 Aug 2020
Researchers identify 73 novel variants of COVID-19 strain in Odisha

A team of genomic researchers from two institutes has identified 73 novel variants of the COVID-19 strain in Odisha, its head has said. The researchers are from CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), New Delhi and Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, Bhubaneswar, he said. "The research team, which carried out sequencing of 1,536 samples including 752 clinical samples, reported two lineages -- B.1.112 and B.1.99 -- for the first time in India," Dr Jayashankar Das, lead investigator and director (research) of the IMS and SUM Hospital, said on Friday. If one gets to know the detailed character of the novel coronavirus, it will be very easy to treat patients and cure them, he said. (PTI)

12:02 (IST)15 Aug 2020
Telangana continues to see surge in COVID-19 cases; 1,863 additions

The upward tick of cases of novel coronavirus infection continued in Telangana with 1,863 fresh cases being registered in the last 24 hours, as per a state government bulletin. The total number of cases now stand at 90,259 in the state. With 10 more fatalities, the death toll stands at 684. Out of the new cases, 394 were reported from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), followed by Medchal- Malkajgiri (175), Rangareddy (131), Karimnagar (104) and Warangal Urban (101), a state government bulletin said on Saturday. The total number of people who recovered from the infectious disease so far were 66,196, while 23,379 were under treatment.

11:07 (IST)15 Aug 2020
South Korea fears infections getting out of control

New coronavirus cases in South Korea have reached the highest level in five months, and authorities fear infections are getting out of control in the Seoul region, which is home to half the country's 51 million people. Officials reported 166 newly confirmed cases on Saturday. That was the highest since March 11, when South Korea reported 242 amid an outbreak in the southeastern city of Daegu and nearby towns. With 103 new cases reported Friday, this is the first time since late March that the daily increase surpassed 100 two days in a row. Officials say all but 11 of the new cases were local transmissions, and most were in the Seoul area. (AP)

10:25 (IST)15 Aug 2020
MLA among 95 fresh COVID-19 cases in Arunachal

Arunachal Pradesh's COVID-19 caseload rose to 2,607 on Saturday as 95 more people, including a legislator, tested positive for the infection, while one more fatality pushed its coronavirus death toll to five, a health official said. Fifty paramilitary personnel are among the new patients, the official added. Jummom Ete Deori, the MLA of Lekang constituency in Namsai district, tested positive for COVID-19 and she is asymptomatic, state Surveillance Officer Dr L Jampa said, adding this is the first coronavirus case among lawmakers in the northeastern state. (PTI)

10:00 (IST)15 Aug 2020
India records single-day spike of 65,002 cases, 996 deaths reported

India recorded the single-day spike of 65,002 fresh cases of the novel coronavirus infection in the last 24 hours, according to the Union Health Ministry data. This takes the total number of cases in India to 25,26,193. The country reported 996 fresh fatalities in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 49,036. There are 6,68,220 active cases in the country, with at least 18,08,937 patients discharged/cured.

09:37 (IST)15 Aug 2020
Maharashtra minister instructs authorities to conduct more testing in rural areas

Maharashtra minister Subhash Desai has directed authorities in the state to increase the testing capacity in rural areas, PTI reported. The move comes after several reports showed that the infection is now spreading to over 300 villages of Aurangabad. Desai, who is also the district guardian minister, asked the officials to enhance contact tracing of patients. "At least 15 contacts of a positive patient should be traced. Besides, people should be tested before they enter villages," he said.

08:47 (IST)15 Aug 2020
PM Modi hails corona warriors at 74th Independence Day celebrations

Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his Independence Day address by paying tributes to the frontline ‘corona warriors’ and said these warriors had lived up to the mantra of ‘Seva Parmo Dharma’ by serving the people of the country selflessly. “We’re going through distinct times. I can’t see young children in front of me today. Coronavirus has stopped everyone. In these times of COVID, Corona warriors have lived the mantra of ‘Seva Parmo Dharma’ and served the people of India. I express my gratitude to them,” he said at the 74th Independence Day celebrations. “We will achieve victory over this coronavirus with the resolve of people of country,” he added. Read more

Migrants workers head to Delhi from various part of Uttar Pradesh after leaving the city during the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus

Kerala is likely to see a sharp rise in Covid cases in August and September when the daily infections are expected to touch between 10,000 to 20,000, the state's Health Minister K K Shailaja said. "Experts have opined that during the months of August and September we may witness a surge in COVID-19 cases. We may report between 10,000 to 20,000 cases per day," she said in a video campaign.

Twelve days after contracting the disease, Union Home Minister Amit Shah Friday said he has tested negative for the coronavirus. In a Hindi tweet, he wrote, "Today my corona test report has come negative. I thank God and at the moment I express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who have blessed me and my family by wishing me well. Will stay in home isolation for a few more days on the advice of doctors."

Tamil Nadu government lifted restrictions on e-Pass for inter-district travel. CM Edappadi K Palaniswami said that from August 17, those applying for the pass will receive it immediately. Meanwhile, Kerala is likely to see a sharp rise in the. umber ion Covid cases in August and September when the daily infections are expected to touch between 10,000 to 20,000, state Health Minister K K Shailaja said.

While Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have seen a dramatic rise in their novel Coronavirus cases in the last month and a half, there are at least four other large states where the disease has been spreading at a very fast rate. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam have seen their Coronavirus numbers grow by several times since July, and are now the biggest contributors to the daily numbers, apart from the usual suspects Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

UP, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam are currently the biggest contributors to daily numbers in coronavirus cases in India.

Each of these four states have been clocking daily growth rates of more than 4 per cent since July, when the national growth rate has been declining steadily, and now stands around 2.8 per cent. Since the start of July, the infection numbers in Bihar and Assam have grown by more than eight times, while in Uttar Pradesh it has increased by five times. West Bengal has seen its numbers rise by more than four times during this period. The death numbers in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have increased proportionately, and both the states have counted more than 2,200 deaths till now. But in Bihar and Assam, the death counts are relatively low. Bihar has recorded just 474 deaths till now, while in Assam, the number of deaths is 161.

In the third rung of states are Odisha and Kerala, and now, also Punjab, which has been seeing a relatively high growth after a long time. Odisha now has more than 50,000 confirmed cases of the disease, with most of them concentrated in Ganjam and Khurda districts, where the spread had started with the influx of migrant workers in the first week of May.

Kerala, which had offered a lot of hope during the first three months of the epidemic in the way it had been able to contain the spread, has been adding relatively large number of cases for the last one month and a half. Its confirmed case count is now heading towards 40,000, and growing well above the national growth rate.

Covid-19 vaccine tracker: US has pre-ordered 800 million doses for its 330 million population

The United States government has entered into a US$ 1.525 billion deal with Moderna, a US-based biotech company, for securing the supply of 100 million doses of the novel Coronavirus vaccine that the company is developing.

With this, the United States government now has advance supply agreements with five companies whose candidate vaccines are being considered to be the leading contenders to get approved. This is the second deal with Moderna. Earlier, the US government had promised US$ 995 million to the company for the development of technology that is being used for the first time to develop a vaccine. Moderna’s candidate vaccine uses the messenger RNA from the novel Coronavirus to induce immune response in the human beings. An RNA-based vaccine has never been made for any disease till now.

The two agreements combined take the US government’s commitment in the Moderna vaccine to US $2.48 billion. An unspecified part of this money is meant as an incentive for timely delivery of the vaccine, but the company did not reveal the timelines that had been agreed. In a statement, the company said, the agreement also provided for an option for purchase of an additional 400 million doses of vaccine.

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