The global death toll from the coronavirus topped a staggering 3 million people amid repeated setbacks in the worldwide vaccination campaign and a deepening crisis in India, Brazil, and France, among other places.
And the true number is believed to be significantly higher because of possible government concealment and the many cases overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019.
Here are the latest updates:
Bed requirement for COVID-19 patients more than our capacity: Gujarat Dy. CM
Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel on Sunday admitted that the present requirement of beds and other healthcare facilities in the wake of the spike in coronavirus cases is more than the state administrations’s capacity.
Mr. Patel, who handles health portfolio, said though the State government is adding more facilities and beds at regular intervals to accomodate more patients, it fell short of demand.
“Over 9,000 new coronavirus cases are emerging in Gujarat everyday. Though we are adding new facilities and beds at regular intervals, it falls short against the demand as the inflow of coronavirus patients is much higher,” Mr. Patel told reporters at civil hospital campus.
Manmohan Singh writes to PM Modi, stresses vaccination key to battling pandemic
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on April 18 wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the COVID-19 crisis, stressing that ramping up vaccination was the key to battling the pandemic.
In a letter to PM Modi, the veteran Congress leader said one must not look at absolute numbers but the total percentage of population vaccinated.
Over 12 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in 92 days in India
India took only 92 days to reach the mark of 12-crore vaccinations, the fastest country to do so, the Union Health Ministry said on Sunday.
It is followed by the U.S. which took 97 days and China which took 108 days.
The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed 12 crore as part of the world’s largest vaccination drive, it said.
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Centre writes to Ministries to carve out COVID-19 blocks in hospitals
The Centre has asked hospitals affiliated to public sector units and Central Ministries to set up dedicated blocks — or even exclusive hospitals — to administer to COVID-19 patients.
“The need of the hour is to prioritise and systematise all our combined efforts towards effective management and ensure availability of sufficient healthcare infrastructure in the States to meet increased demand for providing treatment,” said Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in a letter to several Ministries including Defence, Railways, Atomic Energy, Shipping and Education.
DMK president Stalin writes to Modi for universal vaccination for COIVID-19
DMK president M.K. Stalin on Sunday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a policy decision swiftly for universal vaccination and help Tamil Nadu tide over the present COVID-19 pandemic situation and ensure total protection for the people of the state.
In a letter in which the DMK MPs also signed, Mr Stalin said it was equally important to allow independent procurement of drugs, vaccines and medical equipment by state governments as the pandemic affected states could not wait every time for Centre’s nod to save the human lives.
MLC K. Harish Kumar tests positive for COVID-19
The MLC and president of Daskhina Kannada Congress Committee K. Harish Kumar has tested positive for COVID-19 and is being treated at a private hospital in the city.
Mr. Kumar told The Hindu that he developed diarrhea while on the election campaign in North Karnataka and had got himself tested for COVID-19 in Bidar on April 12, which turned out to be negative
Andhra Pradesh receives two lakh more vaccines
With the sharp rise in the incidence of COVID infections, the State is going to conduct a special drive to vaccinate all the Frontline Workers (FLWs) and Healthcare Workers (HCWs) in the coming few days starting from April 19 as per the instructions of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy said Andhra Pradesh Covid nodal officer Arja Srikanth.
Meanwhile, the state received two lakh more Covishield doses on Sunday in addition to the six lakh doses received on Saturday.
Second COVID-19 wave could spark greater uncertainty: NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman
The country needs to prepare for “greater uncertainty” in terms of consumer as well as investor sentiments due to the second wave of coronavirus infections, and the government will respond with fiscal measures as and when required, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said on April 18.
While acknowledging that the present situation has become far more difficult than it was in the past due to rising coronavirus infections, Mr. Kumar remained hopeful that the country’s economy will grow 11% in the current fiscal ending March 31, 2022.
COVID-19 threat looming large over Thrissur Pooram
The escalating cases of COVID-19 in the second wave of the pandemic have been casting shadow over Thrissur Pooram, the mother of all poorams.
The positivity rate in Thrissur has been increasing rapidly. The current rate is 19.24 with 1,149 cases reported on a single day on April 18. The rate, which had increased to more than 22 in the months of October and November in 2020, was brought to 1.7 by the end of March, 2021.
“The rate has been increasing very fast in the district. Violation of COVID-19 protocols during the election campaign had contributed to the increase. Unlike during the first wave, this time, many of the COVID-19 patients are developing breathlessness and had to be admitted in the ICU or put under ventilator support,” said DMO Dr. K.J. Reena. She urged the people to maintain COVID-19 protocols and take vaccines as early as possible.
KTU exams postponed
Kerala University and APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University (KTU) has also decided to postpone all of its ongoing examinations in view of the worsening COVID-19 situation.
KTU, which has 139 affiliating engineering colleges spread across Kerala, had remained firm on its decision to persist with the existing schedule until a day ago. The move to defer its examinations came comes on the basis of a direction by the Chancellor amid growing clamour for postponing the examinations.
While its third-semester B.Tech. examinations had commenced on April 15, the first-semester B.Tech. examinations were scheduled to get underway on April 19. Postgraduate examinations including those of M.Tech., M.Arch. and M.Plan. were also set to commence on April 27. The Syndicate which is expected to meet during the first week of May is likely to decide on a fresh schedule. Kerala University has tentatively decided to resume its examinations on May 10.
KUHS postpones exams
The Kerala University of Health Sciences (KUHS) has postponed all theory and practical examinations, scheduled to be held from April 19, until further notice, according to the KUHS press release.
Mahatma Gandhi University puts off exams
All examinations of Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, scheduled to be held from April 19 onward, have been postponed until further notice, according to a communication from the varsity
Sree Sankaracharya University exams postponed
All examinations of Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, scheduled from April 19 have been postponed until further notice.
Students are requested to check the University website (www.ssus.ac.in) regularly for updates, according to a communication from the varsity.
Calicut University puts off all exams
Calicut University has postponed all exams scheduled to be held from April 19 in view of the “acute and rapid increase of COVID-19 pandemic”.
A release by the Controller of Examinations on April 18 said this followed a direction by the Governor, who is also the Chancellor of the University. Revised schedule of exams will be announced later, the release added.
Delhi has less than 100 ICU beds left, says CM Kejriwal
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said that the COVID-19 situation in Delhi was worrisome as the positivity rate in the past 24 hours had reached 30% from 24.56% the previous day and that there was a shortage of ICU beds and oxygen.
In a digital address, he said that there were less than 100 ICU beds left in Delhi and there was a shortage of oxygen. “We have asked the Central government for help and we are receiving it as well. I have spoken to Home Minister Amit Shah and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan about the need for more beds in Central government hospitals and oxygen for COVID-19 patients” Mr. Kejriwal said.
6 COVID-19 patients die due to low pressure oxygen in Madhya Pradesh hospital
At least six COVID-19 patients died in the ICU of a government hospital in Madhya Pradesh’s Shahdol due to low pressure in medical oxygen supply, an official said on Sunday.
The incident took place at the Government Medical College Hospital in Shahdol on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday.
“Out of 62 patients admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ward of the medical college’s COVID-19 centre, six patients died due to low pressure of liquid oxygen late last night,” the facility’s dean, Dr. Milind Shiralkar, said. The other critical patients are safe, he said. — PTI
Oxygen production for COVID-19 management being doubled, says Harsh Vardhan
Amidst heightened demand for medical-grade oxygen, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that the production was being doubled.
The government had sanctioned 162 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) plants of which 33 had been installed. Five of them were installed in Madhya Pradesh, four in Maharashtra, three each in Chandigarh, Gujarat and Uttarakhand, two each in Bihar, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra, Puducherry, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
Superintendent of Bihar’s COVID-19 dedicated hospital writes to govt. to relieve him
A senior doctor and Superintendent of Bihar’s COVID-19 dedicated Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH) has written to the government to relieve him from the post due to lack of oxygen supply in the hospital which has put the lives of dozens of patients in danger.
After an all-party meeting with the Governor on Saturday, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is scheduled to hold discussions with District Magistrates and top officials on Sunday in view of the surge in the pandemic cases.
Declare a national health emergency: Sibal to PM
Amid a steep rise in coronavirus cases, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare a national health emergency.
The former Union Minister also called on the Election Commission to declare a moratorium on election rallies in view of the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.
“COVID-19 infections faster than recoveries. Modiji: Declare a National Health Emergency. Election Commission: Declare a moratorium on election rallies. Courts: Protect people’s lives,” Mr. Sibal tweeted. — PTI
Mandatory 14-day quarantine for Delhi residents returning from Kumbh Mela
Delhi residents who have visited the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar or are planning to do so will have to undergo compulsory 14-day home quarantine on their return and upload their details on an official website, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority said in an order.
The ongoing Kumbh Mela has been at the centre of controversy amid fears that it could be a superspreader event with lakhs of devotees attending the event as the second wave of the coronavirus surges uncontrollably. — PTI
Mandatory tests, 14-day quarantine for Kumbh Mela returnees in Odisha
The Odisha government on Saturday said all returnees from the Kumbh Mela will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine period, apart from RT-PCR tests before setting foot in the state, in an effort to rein in the spread of COVID-19.
The quarantine can be completed at home or temporary medical camps (TMC), Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Jena said in an order. — PTI
Engineering entrance exam JEE-Mains scheduled to be held from April 27-30 has been postponed in view of the COVID-19 situation, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ announced on Sunday.
“Given the current #covid19 situation, I have advised @DG_NTA to postpone the JEE (Main) – 2021 April Session. I would like to reiterate that safety of our students & their academic career are @EduMinOfIndia’s and my prime concerns right now,” Mr. Nishank tweeted.
According to an official order by the National Testing Agency (NTA), “looking at the present situation of COVID-19 pandemic and also taking into account the safety and well being of candidates and examination functionaries, it has been decided to postpone JEE-(Main) April session”.
“The revised dates will be announced later on and at least 15 days before the examination,” the order said.
Vizianagaram DSP died of COVID
Vizianagaram DSP (CCS) J. Paparao died of COVID-19 in the early hours of Sunday.
He was suffering from fever for over a week and was admitted to a private hospital for treatment.
The tests showed he was infected by coronavirus and doctors tried in vain to save him. Paparao was a native of Srikakulam and is survived by wife and two kids.
Vizianagaram SP B. Rajkumari recalled his services to the department and told the police officers and staff to be cautious while discharging their duties.
Central Crime Station (CCS) officials were shocked by the sudden demise of their senior colleague.
Arjun Rampal, Neil Nitin Mukesh test positive for COVID-19
Actors Arjun Rampal and Neil Nitin Mukesh have tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently under home quarantine.
Both Rampal and Mukesh took to their respective social media pages to inform fans about their diagnosis. Sharing a note late Friday, 48-year-old Rampal said though he was “asymptomatic”, he was getting the necessary medical care. – PTI
PM Modi to chair meeting to review COVID situation in Varanasi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a meeting on Sunday to review the COVID-19 situation in Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency.
“At 11 a.m., Prime Minister @narendramodi will be chairing a meeting to review the COVID-19 situation in Varanasi. The meeting will be attended by top officials, local administration and doctors who are involved in fighting COVID in Varanasi,” his office said.
The holy city has also witnessed a surge in COVID-19 cases like other major urban centres of Uttar Pradesh. – PTI
India records highest single-day rise of 2,61,500 cases, 1,501 deaths
A record single-day rise of 2,61,500 coronavirus infections has taken India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,47,88,109, while active cases have surpassed the 18-lakh mark, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.
The death toll increased to 1,77,150 with a record 1,501 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.
Registering a steady increase for the 39th day in a row, the active cases stand at 18,01,316, comprising 12.18% of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has dropped to 86.62%, the ministry said. – PTI
Mumbai cops grill pharma director over ‘excess’ Remdesivir stock; BJP fumes
Mumbai police questioned a pharma company director over alleged excess stock of the Remdesivir drug and allowed him to leave after he produced necessary documents, a police official said on Sunday.
“He had stocked at least 60,000 vials. The State and central governments had allowed him to sell the stock, originally meant for export, in the domestic market due to scarcity of the drug used to treat coronavirus patients,” the police official said.
The opposition BJP in Maharashtra objected to the pharma executive’s grilling by Mumbai police, saying the Shiv Sena-led government in the State was playing politics amid the pandemic. – PTI
Mayor claims ‘more COVID deaths’ took place than reported by Delhi govt.
More deaths from COVID-19 took place on Friday according to municipal records vis-a-vis the figures reported by the city government, North Delhi Mayor Jai Prakash claimed on Saturday.
According to the official data shared by the health department, 141 fatalities were reported on April 16.
The North Delhi mayor, however, claimed that the “death count from COVID-19 was 193 on Friday”.
“According to cremations and burials performed of COVID-19 victims, the number of fatalities stands at 193,” he claimed.
In civic areas across Delhi, 300 platforms have been reserved for COVID victims, he said. – PTI
(With inputs from Correspondents and Agencies)