Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla wrote to all States on Friday “to take necessary measures to regulate crowds” during upcoming festivals by enforcing COVID-19 appropriate behaviour such as wearing of mask and maintaining social distancing, as the country was passing through a critical juncture with the number of cases and deaths on the rise.
There was no direction for political rallies that are seeing huge crowds in poll-bound Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.
You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.
Here are the latest updates:
Six States reporting surge in daily cases; account for 79.57% of new infections, says Govt
Six states — Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh — continue to report a high surge in daily COVID-19 cases and account for 79.57% of the new infections reported in a span of 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Saturday.
India’s total active cases have reached 4,52,647 and currently comprise 3.8% of the country’s total infections, it said.
The country saw 62,258 new cases being registered in the last 24 hours, the highest single day rise so far this year, according to the ministry.
Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 36,902 followed by Punjab (3,122) and Chhattisgarh (2,665), the ministry said.
Covovax trials begin in India, hope to launch it by September 2021: Adar Poonawalla
Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla on Saturday said clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine Covovax have begun in India and the company hopes to launch it by September this year.
In August 2020, American vaccine company Novavax, Inc had announced a licence agreement with SII for the development and commercialisation of NVX-CoV2373, its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, in low and middle-income countries and India.
Sachin Tendulkar tests positive for COVID-19
Former India batsman and captain Sachin Tendulkar on Saturday confirmed that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and has “mild symptoms”. The batting legend, via a statement on his Twitter account, added that all others at home have tested negative.
“I’ve quarantined myself at home and am following all the necessary protocols as adviced by my doctors. I want to thank all the healthcare professionals who are supporting me and many others across the country. Take care all of you,” Tendulkar wrote.
Tendulkar had just taken part in the Road Safety World Series T20 tournament in Raipur, where he captained India Legends to take the title, defeating Sri Lanka Legends in the final.
No possibility of lockdown in Delhi: Satyendar Jain
Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Saturday dismissed any possibility of imposing another lockdown in Delhi, saying it was not a solution to check the spread of the coronavirus that is again surging rapidly.
Mr. Jain said there was a logic behind the lockdown enforced earlier as nobody knew then how the virus propagates.
“It follows a 14-day cycle – between a person catching the infection and recovering from it. Experts said the virus will die if a lockdown is imposed for 21 days,” Mr. Jain told reporters.
“Authorities kept on extending the lockdown, but the virus did not die. I don’t think lockdown is a solution,” he said.
Many people commute during silence hour in Punjab
Many people kept moving in their vehicles in Punjab from 11 am till noon on Saturday as they say they were unaware of the State government’s decision to observe an hour’s silence in memory of those who succumbed to COVID-19.
Police stopped intra city traffic at some places and it led to long queues of vehicles, causing inconvenience to commuters.
The Punjab government had announced observing an hour of silence from 11 am on every Saturday starting March 27 in memory of all those who lost their lives to the contagion.
During that hour, the traffic movement would not be allowed, except on State and national highways. Intra-city vehicular traffic should not be plied during this hour, as per orders.
UN expresses gratitude for India’s gift of 2 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses to peacekeepers
Top United Nations officials, including the UN peacekeeping chief, have expressed gratitude to India for its gift of 2,00,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses for peacekeepers, saying the donation will enable the Blue Helmets to continue their life-saving work in a safe manner.
The 2,00,000 doses of vaccines, announced as a gift by India for UN peacekeepers, left Mumbai in the early hours of March 27 and will arrive at Copenhagen, Denmark. They will then be distributed to all UN peacekeeping missions.
Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support Atul Khare on March 26 hailed India’s contribution.
“An effective roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine to all peacekeepers is a key priority for the United Nations in order to protect our personnel and their capacity to continue their crucial work, help protect vulnerable communities and deliver on their mandates,” Mr. Lacroix said.
“India is a longstanding and steadfast supporter of Peacekeeping and I want to thank the Government and people of India, who have generously donated COVID-19 vaccines to benefit our peacekeeping personnel and enable them to continue their life-saving work in a safe manner.” Mr. Khare said, thanking India.
“This important donation will allow us to ensure that UN peacekeepers are able to remain healthy and deliver in some of the most difficult environments in the world without relying on already stretched national health systems or ongoing COVAX efforts.”
Country sees highest single-day rise in year
India saw 62,258 new coronavirus infections in a day, the highest single day rise so far this year, taking the nationwide COVID-19 tally to 1,19,08,910, according to Union health ministry data updated on Saturday.
Registering a steady increase for the 17th day in row, the active cases have increased to 4,52,647 comprising 3.80 per cent of the total infections, while the recovery rate has further dropped to 94.85 per cent, the data stated.
The 62,258 new cases were reported in a span of 24 hours, the highest since October 16, 2020, while the death toll increased to 1,61,240 with 291 daily new fatalities, the highest in around three months, the data updated at 8 am showed.
As many as 63,371 new infections were recorded in a span of 24 hours on October 16.