Mon, 25 May 2020
WHO stops trial of anti-malarial drug for COVID

Timeline  Refresh

23:29   WHO stops trial of anti-malarial drug for COVID
The World Health Organization said Monday it had "temporarily" suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloriquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19 being carried out across a range of countries as a precautionary measure.

The decision came after the publication last week of a study in the Lancet indicating that using the drug on COVID-19 patients could increase their likelihood of dying, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference.

Tedros said that the executive group of the so-called Solidarity Trial, in which hundreds of hospitals across several countries have enrolled patients to test several possible treatments for the novel coronavirus, had as a precaution suspended trials using that drug.

"The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board," Tedros said.

"The other arms of the trial are continuing," he stressed.

Hydroxychloroquine is normally used to treat arthritis but pronouncement from public figures including US President Donald Trump -- who announced last week he is taking the drug -- has prompted governments to bulk buy the medicine.
22:49   WHO warns there could be a second peak
The World Health Organization is warning of a second peak -- not necessarily a second wave -- of coronavirus cases. 

During a media briefing on Monday, Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of WHOs Health Emergencies Programme, said right now, we are Right in the middle of the first wave, globally."

We're still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up," he added.

We need to be also cognisant of the fact that the disease can jump up at any time. We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now that it's going to keep going down, and the way to get a number of months to get ready for a second wave -- we may get a second peak in this way, Ryan said.

Ryan warned that a second peak or wave could come during the normal influenza season, which will greatly complicate things for disease control.

Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO infectious disease epidemiologist, said all countries need to remain on high alert here. All countries need to be ready to rapidly detect cases, even countries that have had success in suppression. Even countries that have seen a decline in cases must remain ready.  

Van Kerkhove said if given the opportunity, the virus will start an outbreak.

A hallmark of coronaviruses is its ability to amplify in certain settings, its ability to cause transmission or super spreading events. And we are seeing in a number of situations in these closed settings. When the virus has an opportunity, it can transmit readily," she said.
22:26   BJP MP hits out at Gandhis for triggering panic amid COVID-19 pandemic
West Delhi BJP MP Parvesh Verma targeted the Gandhi family on Monday, saying Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra should be "quarantined" till the lockdown ends in order to stop them from triggering "panic" among people already hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Congress retaliated to Verma's assault, asking the Bharatiya Janata Party to answer people over the issues of migrant workers' plight and "unplanned lockdown", instead of personal attacks on its leaders.

Verma said since the lockdown was imposed in the country on March 25, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were "finding faults" in it and triggering panic among people, who are already facing challenges on many fronts.

"Now they have started declaring the lockdown as a failure and triggering panic at a time when people are already troubled due to the disease and loss of livelihood. I think they should be quarantined till the lockdown ends for working  like a virus," Verma said.

The top Congress leadership has been critical of the Narendra Modi government's handling of the pandemic and more so after lakhs of migrant workers started moving from urban centres to their home states across the country.

-- PTI
21:58   Karan Johar's 2 house staff test positive
Filmmaker Karan Johar on Monday said two members of his household staff have tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently under quarantine. 
In a statement, Johar said that the building has been sterilised after Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation was informed about the same. 

"I'd like to inform you that two members of our household staff have tested positive for COVID-19. As soon as the symptoms were detected, they were put under quarantine in a section of our building. The BMC was informed immediately, and the building has been fumigated and sterilised by them as per the norms," he said. 

The filmmaker said the family members and other staff are currently not showing any symptoms but have taken swab test, the result of which was negative. 

"But will remain in self-isolation for the next 14 days for the safety of everyone around us. We stand by our commitment to safeguard everyone and have ensured that all measures prescribed by the authorities have been strictly adhered to.

"We will also ensure that the best treatment and care is provided to them during the illness, and we're sure that they will be fighting fit soon. These are difficult times but by staying in our homes and taking the right precautions, there is no doubt in my mind that we can defeat this virus. Stay home everyone and stay safe," he added. 

As of Monday, Maharashtra reported 2,436 new COVID-19 cases and 60 deaths, taking case count to 52,667 and fatalities to 1,695.

-- PTI
21:33   Japan will expand travel ban after lifting national emergency
Japan is set to expand its travel ban list to 111 countries effective Wednesday, now including the United States, India, and South Africa, the government ministries said.

The ban list, which will add 11 more countries this week, forbids foreign nationals who stayed in those countries from entering Japan, to protect against the spread of coronavirus. 

Japanese citizens are still allowed to enter the country, although they will need to go through medical tests and self-quarantine for 14 days.  

The travel ban expansion comes after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the countrys nationwide state of emergency earlier today. It lasted almost a month. 
21:09   2,436 new COVID cases in Maha, total at 52,667
A total of 2,436 more people in Maharashtra have tested positive of coronavirus, taking the total count of cases in the state to 52,667.

The state reported 60 deaths due to the disease on Monday. "A total of 2,436 new patients of COVID-19, 60 deaths and 1,186 discharged were recorded in Maharastra today. The total number of positive cases in the state rises to 52,667, including 1,695 deaths and 15,786 discharged," a state Health Department release said.

As per the latest update by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the total number of coronavirus cases in the country stands at 1,38,845, including 77,103 active cases.

-- ANI
20:47   5.5-strong earthquake hits Manipur
A moderate earthquake, measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale, struck India's northeast region at about 8.15 pm on Monday. 

Initial reports suggest the earthquake's epicentre lay in Manipur. 

Tremors were also felt in Guwahati and other parts of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram.
20:25   Narayan Rane demands imposition of President's rule in Maha
BJP MP Narayan Rane on Monday met  with Maharashtra Governor B S Koshyari and demanded imposition of President's rule in view of the Shiv Sena-led state government's "failure" in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

Rane told reporters that the Maha Viks Aghadi government of the Sena, the NCP and the Congress has messed up the administrative affairs in the time of the unprecedented crisis.

"This government lacked the capacity to run a government. Maharashtra should be put under President's rule. The governor should step in," he said.

Rane, a Rajya Sabha MP, said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was inexperienced who cannot steer administration and the police force effectively.

"The condition of hospitals run by the state government and civic bodies is pathetic," the former chief minister said.

He said military should take charge of these functions and help in improving the situation on the healthcare front.

Maharashtra, which continues to be the epicentre of the coronavirus infection, has so far reported 52,667 cases and 1,695 deaths, the highest in the country.

-- PTI
19:58   630 cancellations as flights resume operations
India saw resumption of domestic flights on a substantial basis on Monday after a gap of two months even as various state governments expressed reluctance to open up their airports in view of rising cases of coronavirus.

While around 630 flights were cancelled due to states' restrictions, 532 flights carrying 39,231 passengers operated on Monday, said Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. 

The first flight on Monday was from Delhi to Pune at 4.45 am and civil aviation authorities ensured strict regulations were followed by airlines and passengers equally. The first flight from Mumbai was to Patna which took off at 6.45 am. However, a large number of flights were cancelled amid confusion as states differed in the set regulations meant for airline passengers.

Airlines were jittery in resuming services as different states have put in place separate norms and conditions for quarantining passengers arriving there by domestic flights. Some states have decided to put passengers in mandatory institutional quarantine while several others have talked about putting them under home quarantine.

19:52   Himachal Pradesh authorises DMs to extend restrictive orders till June 30
Himachal Pradesh Cabinet on Monday authorised all District Magistrates in the State to extend the order issued by them under Section 144 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure up to June 30 in view of the coronavirus crisis.

"The Cabinet authorised all the District Magistrates of the State under the proviso of Sub-Section (4) of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to extend the order issued by them under Section 144 (1) of the Code up to 30th June 2020," said the Information and Public Relations Department of Himachal Pradesh government in a statement on Monday. 

Following the Cabinet decision, Hamirpur Deputy Commissioner Harikesh Meena announced that the regulations under Section 144 of CrPC imposed in Hamirpur district are extended to June 30.

Himachal Pradesh has so far reported 203 cases of COVID-19, including 63 cured patients and three deaths.

The Cabinet, in its meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, also decided to allow the private schools to charge only tuition fee for the lockdown period.

-- ANI
19:28   Rail Bhawan to remain shut for santisation
An employee of the Rail Bhavan tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Monday, leading to the closure of all offices of the Railways Ministry for the next two days, the second time in less than a fortnight.
A fourth-grade multitasking staffer who attended office till last Tuesday is the fifth COVID-19 case detected in the building in less than two weeks. Nine of his contacts at Rail Bhavan have been sent to home quarantine, officials said.
"Some Officials of Railway Board have recently tested COVID-positive. Accordingly it has been decided to close all Offices at Rail Bhavan on 26th and 27th May, 2020 to carry out intensive sanitization of rooms and common areas," said an order hours after the fifth case came to light.
Offices at fourth floor of Rail Bhavan will remain close till Friday for thorough disinfection, it said.
The incident comes close on the heels of a senior officer of the Railways testing positive for the disease on Sunday, in what was the fourth such case in less than a week at the headquarters. 

-- PTI
19:18   Union minister skips mandatory quarantine
Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda was at the centre of a controversy on Monday after he did not undergo quarantine on arrival from Delhi by a flight in Bengaluru as stipulated, but defended it, saying he came under the exempted category being in-charge of pharmaceuticals, an essential sector.

The Karnataka government came to his defence and said the Centre had issued orders exempting such people handling essential sectors from quarantine norms.

The minister, also Bengaluru North MP, drove off in an official car with out undergoing institutional quarantine as mandated by the Karnataka government for air travellers coming from high COVID-19 prevalence states after arriving in Bengaluru by a commercial airline flight, services of which resumed after two months.

It triggered a controversy with several people taking to social media accusing him of violating norms while others saying rules are only meant for citizens and not for VVIPS, including ministers.

The standard operating procedure (SoP) issued by the government mandates passengers coming from high COVID-19 prevalence states -- Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh -- to go for paid institutional quarantine for a period of seven days.

Defending himself, Gowda said he being a Minister in- charge of Department of Pharmaceuticals, which comes under essential supplies, he is under the exempted clause and hence has been allowed to proceed.

" need people to work for the control (of COVID-19) right? If you say no one should come out can you stop this? As a pharma minister I need to check production, supplies, and ensure it reaches last point, it is my responsibility," the Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister told reporters.

"I come under the exemption clause and I have the exemptions...Arogya Setu App on my phone also shows I'm safe. After checking every things we conduct ourselves in a responsible way. Modi (PM Narendra Modi) also wont spare us, if we move around according to our wish," he added.

State Minister S Suresh Kumar, who is spokesperson for COVID-19 in Karnataka said, "He (Gowda) is exempted in his capacity as a minister handling pharma sector.....orders has already been issued by the central government (in this regard)."

Gowda, who later held a meeting with state Ministers and officials, also said his body temperature was checked before he left the airport.

The minister said he has not come in contact with any one and there were only 11 passengers in the flight.

The senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader also said though he could have opted for a special flight much before, he waited for domestic flights to resume as 'I am not a person who misuses things'.

According to the SoP, at the end of the seven days, the passengers coming from these six states would be sent to home quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19.

Those coming from other states have been asked to follow 14 days of home quarantine.

In special cases involving businessmen coming for urgent work, they are permitted without quarantine if they produce negative test report of COVID-19 from ICMR approved laboratory obtained within two days ahead of their travel date.  -- PTI
Representative image only
Representative image only
19:09   China's fighter drone makes maiden test flight
China's first unmanned helicopter drone designed to fly in plateau areas and capable of firing and conducting reconnaissance from a high altitude has made its maiden flight and could be deployed along the country's borders with India, according to reports in the official media in Beijing.

The AR500C unmanned helicopter, which has the ability to relay communication from a high altitude, could help safeguard China's southwestern borders with India in Tibet, the state-run Global Times reported.

The drone, developed by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), successfully made its maiden flight on Wednesday at an AVIC base in Poyang in East China's Jiangxi Province.

During the flight, it conducted several manoeuvres including hovering, horizontal and vertical moves, according to state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV).

The Global Times report on Sunday said the AR500C, China's first unmanned helicopter designed to fly in plateau areas, can take off at an elevation of 5,000 metres and has a ceiling of 6,700 metres.

It has an endurance of five hours, maximum speed of 170 km an hour and a maximum take-off weight of 500 kg.

The helicopter's main missions include reconnaissance and communication relay, but when equipped with additional devices, it can also run electronic disruption, target indication, fire strike, cargo delivery and nuclear radiation and chemical contamination reconnaissance, an AVIC statement said.

The maiden flight of AR500C came at a time when China-India border tensions have been flaring up, the report by the Global Times, run by China's ruling Communist Party, said.

India on Thursday rejected China's allegations that the Indian troops crossed over to the Chinese side of the frontier in Ladakh and Sikkim, asserting that New Delhi has been taking a responsible approach towards border management.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said it was the Chinese side that recently undertook activities hindering India's normal patrols in the areas.

Fang Yonghong, technology director at AVIC's helicopter branch said that the helicopter can be easily controlled via a keyboard and a screen.

Compared to a traditional fixed-wing drone, a drone helicopter does not require a large airstrip with long runways, making it more flexible to deploy, Chinese air defence expert Fu Qianshao was quoted as saying by the report.

The Chinese military already operates the Z-8G, China's first large transport helicopter with a focus on plateau operations.

It can take off from 4,500 metres above sea level and has a ceiling of more than 6,000 metres and lift troops and supplies to high-altitude areas, it said.  -- PTI
18:57   Over 15 lakh migrants have returned to UP so far in 1,174 trains
Over 15 lakh stranded migrant workers have returned to Uttar Pradesh from different parts of the country on board 1,174 trains till now, a senior state government official said in  Lucknow on Monday.

A total of 24 lakh people have returned to the state so far in buses, trains and other modes of transport, Additional Chief Secretary (Home and Information) Awanish Awasthi said.

"Till Monday 2 pm, as many as 1,174 trains have come to UP, through which 15.62 lakh migrant workers have arrived. Buses are operating from Rajasthan and Haryana.

"So far, around 24 lakh people have come to UP through trains, buses and other modes of transport," he said.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has reviewed the return of migrants to the state, Awasthi said.

"The UP chief minister has directed that the 'Migration Commission' be renamed as 'Kamgar Shramik: Sewayojan evam Rojgar Kalyan Aayog'.

"This commission will work to provide employment to the labourers, while keeping in mind the skill-mapping and skill development of the labourers. The CM also directed that the constitution of the commission should be ensured in the next couple of days," he said.

The official also informed that the UP chief minister would undertake inspection of emergency services in the hospitals.

Police patrolling is going on and there is peace in the state, he said, adding that people celebrated Eid from their homes.

Awasthi said 57,449 FIRs have been lodged for violation of lockdown so far.  -- PTI
18:04   Pak-trained 'spy' pigeon captured near border
A pigeon, suspected to be trained in Pakistan for spying and wearing a ring with alphabets and numbers written on it, was captured by locals of Manyari village near the India-Pakistan international border in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said on Monday.

According to the border police, the villagers have handed over the pigeon to the officials and an investigation has been initiated in the matter.

"We don't know where the bird has come from. It was caught near the fence on our side. We have found a ring on the bird's feet. There are some numbers written on the ring," Senior Superintendent of Police of Kathua, Shailendra Misra told ANI in Kathua on Monday.

He said that the police is examining where the bird has come from and what the alphabets and numbers on the ring mean.

"There is an operations group in Jammu which takes care of these cases (related to infiltration). They have been intimated about the development. They are also looking into the matter," Misra said.

Birds allegedly being used for the purpose of espionage have been seized in Jammu and Kashmir in the past.  -- ANI
17:37   Heatwave likely to abate only after May 28: IMD
Dust and thunderstorms are likely over several parts of north India on May 29-30, bringing the much-needed relief from the intense heatwave, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Monday.

Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and parts of Uttar Pradesh have been experiencing blistering heat for days with temperatures soaring over 45 degrees Celsius in some places.

The IMD had on Sunday issued a red colour-coded alert for north India for May 25-26 when the prevailing heatwave conditions are expected to peak.

Kuldeep Srivastava, head of the Regional Meteorological Department of the IMD, said due to a western disturbance and easterly winds, dust storm and thunderstorm activity is likely over Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on May 29-30.

The wind speed is also likely to be around 50-60 kilometres per hour during this period, Srivastava said, adding that this will bring relief from the intense heat.

A western disturbance is a cyclonic storm that originates in the Mediterranean Sea and travels across Central Asia. When it comes in contact with the Himalayas, it brings rains to the hills and the plains.

Heat wave conditions over some parts and severe heat wave conditions at isolated pockets are very likely over Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, East Madhya Pradesh and Vidarbha during May 25-27, the IMD said in its daily bulletin.

Heat wave conditions are also likely in isolated pockets over Punjab, Chhattisgarh, interior Odisha, Gujarat, Madhya Maharashtra, Marathawada, interior Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar and Jharkhand during next 2-3 days.

"Due to prevailing dry north-westerly winds over plains of northwest India, central India and adjoining interior parts of eastern India, present heatwave conditions very likely to continue to prevail over these areas till May 28 with peak intensity on May 25 and 26," the IMD said in its daily bulletin.   -- PTI
17:10   No exchange of Eid sweets at India, Pak border
Amid tensions due to Pakistan sponsoring cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, Border Security Force (BSF) on Monday did not send sweets to Pakistan Rangers at the Wagah Border on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr.

However, BSF troops exchanged sweets with the Bangladeshi troops deployed at the India-Bangladesh border.

Since the last few occasions, BSF has not been participating in the customary exchange of sweets at the Attari-Wagah border in Punjab which used to take place on Republic Day, Independence Day, Eid, Diwali among other events.

On Diwali too, BSF did not accept sweets from Pakistan side and had also not sent them sweets on Republic Day and the new year.

"Pakistan continues to back terrorism even when the world is threatened by COVID-19. We have not offered them sweets on Eid this time and will reconsider offering them in future too if they refuse to stop terrorists coming to India from their soil," a senior BSF official said.

Eid-ul-Fitr marks the conclusion of the holy month of Ramzan, which is a month of fasting and prayer for the Muslim community.

This year, Eid is being celebrated amid the extended nationwide lockdown enforced to contain the spread of COVID-19. -- ANI
16:33   Delhi sizzles at 45 degrees Celsius
The national capital has been reeling under the effect of heat wave conditions this past week and as per information provided by India Meteorological Department, mercury levels touched 45 degrees Celsius on Monday.

People could be seen drinking water while standing under tree shades to avoid high temperatures. Animals and birds could also be seen searching for water for relief from the heat.

Dust and thunderstorm have been predicted for later in the week by India Meteorological Department.

The weatherman on Sunday predicted that the temperature in Delhi for the next four days would oscillate between 45 degrees Celsius and 46 degrees Celsius and after that, the region is expected to be battered by rainfall accompanied by thunderstorms. -- ANI
16:28   Lakhs and lakhs of locusts swarm into Jaipur
Swarms of locusts entered some residential areas of the city on Monday, presenting the local people with an unusual sight. Locusts normally affect districts in western Rajasthan but this time the swarms have travelled as far as Jaipur city. The swarms later headed towards Dausa district. The swarms are travelling farther and damaging trees as there are no standing crops for them to feed on, an official said. In Jaipur's Murlipura and Vidhyadhar Nagar areas, people beat 'thalis' at the locusts that had settled on walls and trees, hoping to make them move on. "The menace of locust has spread to 18 districts of Rajasthan and they are rapidly travelling in search of food,' Om Prakash, the commissioner of state agriculture department, told PTI. He said the swarms were in Nagaur and reached Jaipur and nearby areas on Sunday. They were seen in residential areas of the city on Monday and then they moved towards Dausa, Prakash said. "There is no standing crop on ground so they are staying on large trees and moving fast. Locust control teams conducted operations by sprinkling pesticide in Jaipur last night and today remaining swarms have moved towards Dausa,' he said. Centre's Locust Warning Organisation in Jodhpur and the state agriculture department are working in coordination to handle the locust attack issue. The latest such attack occurred on April 11 when the swarms entered from Pakistan and damaged cotton crops in Ganganagar to some extent. The swarms later travelled to various other districts and have now crossed Jaipur. Rajasthan Agriculture Minister Lalchand Kataria conducted field visit and met the farmers. The director of agriculture department informed that 200 teams are working in the field to monitor the movement of locusts and nearly 800 tractor-mounted sprayers are being used. He said, fire department is also involved in the operations against the locusts. Prakash said the swarms have covered almost 54,000 hectare area in the state this time and containment operations were conducted in 40,000 hectare area. PTI
16:11   Lockdown extensions economically disastrous: Mahindra
Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra on Monday said lockdown extensions are not just economically disastrous but also create another medical crisis. While acknowledging that choices are not easy for policy makers, he said a lockdown extension will not help. 

"Lockdown extensions aren't just economically disastrous, as I had tweeted earlier, but also create another medical crisis," Mahindra said in a tweet. 

He was referring to an article that highlighted "the dangerous psychological effects of lockdowns & the huge risk of neglecting non-COVID patients". Mahindra, who had earlier proposed a comprehensive lifting after 49 days of lockdown, further said, "The choices aren't easy for policy makers but a lockdown extension won't help". 

He said, "The numbers (coronavirus cases) will continue to rise & the focus must be on rapid expansion of field hospital beds with oxygen lines". 

He further said, "The army has enormous expertise in this". On March 22, before the government announced nationwide lockdown, Mahindra had proposed such a move expressing concerns over reports that India was likely to have already reached stage 3 of coronavirus transmission. PTI
Video grab of new hygine products
Video grab of new hygine products
16:07   Salman launches grooming and personal care brand
Superstar Salman Khan has launched his own grooming and personal care brand FRSH. The 54-year-old actor, who has been living at his Panvel farmhouse since the lockdown was announced on March 25 to rein in the spread of COVID-19, unveiled his new brand on social media on Sunday. 

Considering the importance of hygiene and sanitisation during the coronavirus pandemic, Salman said he decided to launch a sanitiser as the first product under the brand. 

"Launching my new grooming & personal care brand FRSH! @FrshGrooming," the actor posted on his Twitter page alongside a video in which he can be seen introducing the brand. The "Bharat' star said other products will also be launched soon and can be purchased from The products will also be available at various stores across the country once the supply begins.  --  PTI
15:59   Mumbai police issues new order for renting out property
The Mumbai police has issued a new order making it a criminal offence under section 188 of the CrPC to let out or rent a property without police verification of the tenant. If the tenant is a foreigner, requisite details of the tenant including his passport, visa details etc should be furnished with the police. 

The order comes into effect from today for a period of 60 days in . 

The reason for this order, the office of the Commissioner of Police, states is to prevent terrorists and antisocial elements from using rented accommodation as hideouts for terrorism and anti-social activities like shootouts, bomb explosions or riots.  

15:20   The rise of Rishi Sunak, the most popular politician in Britain today
Although his ascent through British politics has been exceptionally fast, he hasn't quite 'come from nowhere'. John Rentoul tells the story of the 'bright boy who would always go on to great things'. Read the column here. 

PS. It may interest you to know that Rishi Sunak is Infosys co-founder NR Naryana Murthy's son-in-law. 
15:16   Pawar meets Maha guv
Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar calls on Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at Raj Bhavan in Mumbai.
Passengers wait their turn at Patna airport
Passengers wait their turn at Patna airport
15:10   Long queues of passengers outside airport terminals
A long queue of passengers was spotted outside IGI Airport's Terminal 3 on Monday as all domestic flights from the national capital are operating from here.As many as 80 flights at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International airport have been cancelled today, officials said.

Domestic flight operations have resumed today across the country after two months of suspension except in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.

All scheduled commercial passenger flights were suspended in India following the Centre imposed lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The Airports Authority of India on Thursday issued Standard Operating Procedures for airports as part of preparations for the recommencement of domestic commercial flight operations.

According to the SOPs, airports have been advised to ensure that passenger seating arrangement is done in such a manner so as to maintain social distancing among passengers by blocking those seats that are not to be used, with proper markers or tapes. 

All passengers also must compulsorily be registered with the Aarogya Setu app on their phones as per the directives.Besides this, alternate check-in counters should be used to avoid congestion. The airport staff must be provided PPE kits, face masks etc, and they should also be provided with hand sanitisers. -- ANI
15:03   Delhi Covid tally 14,053; containment zones 90
With 635 more COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours in Delhi, the total number of coronavirus cases in the city rose to 14,053 on Monday. According to the health bulletin issued by the Delhi government, a total of 231 patients have been discharged or migrated in the last 24 hours which took the total number of the discharged patients to 6,771 in the city.

"In the last 24 hours, 635 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Delhi, taking the total number of cases to 14,053. Total of 231 people have been discharged in the last 24 hours," the bulletin stated.

"The death toll due to the virus reaches 276. Total 7,006 are active cases in Delhi," it further stated.

Three new coronavirus containment zones were identified in Delhi taking their total number in the national capital to 90 as on Monday. So far, 41 zones have been de-contained in the city.
14:42   India ups troop strength to combat China's 5,000
As the Chinese Army has deployed over 5,000 of its troops on the Line of Actual Control at different locations in the Ladakh sector, the Indian Army is also increasing presence of its troops to match their strength and is also enhancing its presence in other areas to deter the People's Liberation Troops from carrying out transgressions in other areas.

At present, the Chinese Army has diverted its troops carrying out a massive exercise on their side of the LAC and deployed them at short notice across the Line of Actual Control in the areas under the Indian Army's 81 and 114 Brigades deployed to counter the Chinese assertions from Daulat Beg Oldie and adjoining areas.Sources in the Indian Army said that the Chinese have moved in troops and heavy vehicles across the Line of Actual Control near the Pangong Tso lake and finger area and are well within the Indian territory.

In the Galwan Nala area, the Chinese have walked in with troops from its road head nearly 10-15 km from the Indian post KM120 there who have pitched tents and are stationed close to it.Sources said the Chinese have been building their roads in the area opposite to the Indian positions for which objections were also raised from Indian side but they continued building infrastructure.

In the Galwan area, the Indian Army has been building a bridge near the Indian patrolling point 14 near Galwan Nala over which the Chinese raised objections and have increased their presence there.

At any time, the Indian post KM120 has 250 troops including men from both the Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police as convoys pass through there but now the post has been reinforced with men and equipment to counter the Chinese aggression there.

India is also using the airfield in the Daulat Beg Oldie sector to ferry in troops from the reserves and other areas to match the Chinese strength in the Eastern Ladakh sector.

Sources said an old proposal is being revived to build an airfield close the Indian position along a road in the DBO sector where the Chinese won't be able to monitor the aerial movement on the Indian side.

In other areas of eastern Ladakh under the 70 brigade, in Himachal sector and the central sector of the LAC including the border with Uttarakhand, the Indian Army has increased the presence of its troops and patrolling to check any attempts by the PLA to transgress in other areas.

Sources stressed that as per the assessment on ground, the way Chinese have increased their troops on the ground, the own side was caught in for a surprise for a brief period.

The ground commanders and the senior leadership are talking to Beijing to resolve the standoff at the earliest but not much progress has been made due to the rigid stand taken by the Chinese. -- ANI
14:29   Govt's wheat procurement surpasses last year's level of 34.1 mn tonnes
The government's wheat procurement so far in the 2020-21 marketing year has surpassed the last year's 34.13 million tonnes, surmounting all impediments in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Wheat procurement target has been set at 40.7 million tonnes for the 2020-21 marketing year. Although the wheat marketing year runs from April-March, the bulk of procurement is normally done in the first three months. 

State-run Food Corporation of India and state agencies undertake purchase of wheat at the minimum support price. In a statement, the food ministry said the overall wheat procurement has touched 34.15 MT as on May 24 in the current marketing year, surpassing last year's figure of 34.13 MT. 

Out of which, 12.58 MT of wheat has been procured in Punjab, 11.33 MT in Madhya Pradesh, 7.06 MT in Haryana, 2.03 MT in Uttar Pradesh, 31,000 tonnes in Uttarakhand, 21,000 tonnes in Gujarat, 12,000 tonnes in Chandigarh and 3,000 tonnes in Himachal Pradesh, it said. 

Highlighting measures taken for smooth procurement, the ministry said wheat harvesting generally starts towards the end of March and procurement commences in the first week of April every year. However, with the imposition of the lockdown with effect from March 24, all operations came to a standstill. The crop had ripened by then and was ready for harvesting.
-- PTI
Representational image
Representational image
14:20   A paper vendor in Mysore has a message for India's paper tigers...
"Commission is down by two-thirds. Some readers look at us like untouchables. The show will go on for just a couple of years." Read more here. 
14:17   Invitee list to be pruned for PMs I-Day address
This year's Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort, New Delhi, will be a scaled down affair, sources in the home ministry have disclosed, given the social distancing norms enforced by the coronavirus pandemic.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15, the number of invitees is expected to be pruned from the usual 3500 or so that comprises diplomats, military officials and civil servants, the sources said. 
14:12   40% travel firms staring at complete shutdown
Around 40 per cent companies operating in the travel and tourism sector are staring at the risk of complete shutdown over the next 3 to 6 months, says a report, even as the domestic flights resume operations after over 2-month suspension due to lockdown. 

Also, nearly 36 per cent of such companies are likely to witness a temporary shutdown, according to the report by BOTT Travel Sentiment Tracker in partnership with seven national associations like IATO, TAAI, ICPB, ADTOI, OTOAI, ATOAI and SITE. 

The report said that 81 per cent travel and tourism companies have lost their revenue up to 100 per cent while 15 per cent of the companies have witnessed it slide up to 75 per cent. 

The BOTT Travel Sentiment Tracker survey was done online with over 2,300 travel and tourism business owners and company representatives across the country over a period of 10 days. 

"The pandemic has hit the travel and tourism sector hard with as many as 40 per cent companies facing the risk of complete shutdown in the next 3 to 6 months while another 35.7 per cent might go for a temporary shutdown," it said. 

The survey report further revealed that 38.6 per cent travel companies are going for job cuts and another 37.6 per cent of the companies are considering the option with uncertainty looming large. 

"The travel and tourism sector is going through a very bad phase. It has taken a severe beating due to the COVID-19 outbreak with lakhs of people dependent on it suffering immense losses and job cuts," the report said. 

This survey has further confirmed fear that travel companies are staring at partial and complete shutdown in addition to job cuts, adjustment of workforce in form of pay cuts, deferment of salaries and termination of contracts, according to the survey. 

"This is an unprecedented situation and the government should extend some relief for the survival of thousands of companies," Travel Agents Association of India president Jyoti Mayal said.

As per the survey, 73 per cent travel companies have gone for adjustment of workforce including pay cuts, deferment of salaries, termination of contracts, while 67 per cent have gone for steps like reduction of overheads. About 49 per cent are deferring their capital expenditures and interestingly, 41.6 per cent companies are introducing new services. -- PTI
13:26   Class X, XII boards to be held at 15K centres
The pending class 10 and 12 board exams will be conducted at 15,000 centres across the country instead of 3,000 centres planned earlier, Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal announced on Monday. The exams, which were postponed in view of the coronavirus lockdown, will now be held from July 1 to July 15. 

"The class 10, 12 exams will now be conducted at over 15,000 exam centres across India. Earlier, CBSE was slated to hold exams at only 3,000 centres," the minister said. 

The decision has been taken to ensure social distancing at exam centres and minimise travel for students. The HRD ministry has already announced that students will appear for exams at schools in which they are enrolled rather than external examination centres. According to home ministry guidelines, there will be no exam centre in COVID-19 containment zones. PTI 
13:24   Dr Siddhartha Mukherjee on guv Cuomo's commission on Covid
Pulitzer Prize-winning Indian-American physician Sid Mukherjee and compatriot higher education leader Satish Tripathi have been named by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo among members of a commission that will focus on plans to jumpstart the state's economy badly hit by the COVID19 pandemic. 

Cuomo on Sunday announced that the state's Blue-Ribbon Commission, chaired by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, will also focus on improving telehealth and broadband access using new, innovative technologies. 

The 15-member commission will include Mukherjee, Tripathi and other eminent leaders namely Chair of Rockefeller Foundation Richard Parsons, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker and President of Cornell University Martha Pollack and IBM Chair Ginny Rommety. India-born 

Mukherjee is a hematologist and oncologist and an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for 'The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.' 

Tripathi is the President of University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Tripathi graduated from Banaras Hindu University and holds three master's degrees - one in computer science from the University of Toronto and two in statistics from the University of Alberta and Banaras Hindu University. 

According to his profile on the university website, Tripathi is a leader in the national higher education community and serves on the board of directors for the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. Cuomo had tapped Schmidt to head the commission that will look into how the state's economy can recover, taking into account lessons learnt from COVID19 pandemic.  -- PTI
13:06   51 more cops test +ve for Covid in Maharashtra
51 more policemen have tested positive for COVID-19 in Maharashtra, taking the total number of personnel affected by coronavirus in the state to 1,809 on Monday. According to the police, the total number of cases includes 194 police officers and 1,615 other ranks.

Out of the total affected persons, 18 have died due to the infection and 678 have recovered so far, Maharashtra Police said.

According to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Maharashtra has reported 50,231 coronavirus cases. Out of the total cases, 14,600 patients have been discharged. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 in the state now stands at 1,635. -- ANI
Representational image
Representational image
13:03   Placentas from COVID-19-positive pregnant women show injury: Study
Researchers have found evidence of injury in the placentas from 16 women who tested positive for COVID-19 while pregnant, pointing to a new complication associated with the deadly disease. The type of injury seen in the placentas shows abnormal blood flow between the mothers and their babies in the womb, according to the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology. 

The researchers from Northwestern University in the US said the findings, though early, could help inform how pregnant women should be clinically monitored during the pandemic. 

"Most of these babies were delivered full-term after otherwise normal pregnancies, so you wouldn't expect to find anything wrong with the placentas, but this virus appears to be inducing some injury in the placenta," said Jeffrey Goldstein, assistant professor of pathology at Northwestern University. 

"It doesn't appear to be inducing negative outcomes in live-born infants, based on our limited data, but it does validate the idea that women with COVID should be monitored more closely," Goldstein said. 

This increased monitoring might come in the form of non-stress tests, which examine how well the placenta is delivering oxygen, or growth ultrasounds, which measure if the baby is growing at a healthy rate, said study co-author Emily Miller, assistant professor at Northwestern University. "Not to paint a scary picture, but these findings worry me," Miller said. -- PTI
12:46   103 more COVID-19 cases in Odisha, state tally reaches 1,438
103 more COVID-19 cases have been reported from Odisha in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of coronavirus cases in the state to 1,438, the state Health Department said.Out of the 103 new cases, 22 are from Deogarh, 15 from Kendrapara, and 10 from Jagatsinghpur among others.

India witnessed the highest ever spike of 6,977 positive cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of COVID-19 to 1,38,845, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. -- ANI
12:39   Covid cases risen due to lockdown easing: Kejriwal
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal media briefing on the Covid-19 situation in the national capital. 

-- Till yesterday, there were 13,418 positive cases of COVID19. Out of this 6540 have recovered and 6617 are active cases. 

-- We have issued a show-cause notice to a private hospital that denied treatment to a patient who tested positive for COVID19. It is the hospital's duty in such a case to provide an ambulance to the patient and take them to a COVID hospital. 

-- The situation is under control in Delhi though I admit that COVID-19 cases are increasing slowly. Most of the cases have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic and being treated at home. 

-- Cases have increased in Delhi due to relaxations in lockdown. But there is nothing to worry about unless the mortality rate or the number of serious cases rises rapidly. If people contract the virus and recover, then there is nothing to worry about.
File pic: Maha CM with governor Koshyari
File pic: Maha CM with governor Koshyari
12:10   Sena slams Maha guv for demanding exams be held
The ruling Shiv Sena in Maharashtra on Monday hit out at Governor B S Koshyari for being in favour of conducting final year university exams in the state, and said health of students cannot be put at risk amid the COVID-19 crisis. An editorial in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' said when the RSS-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad has already opposed holding exams in Gujarat and Goa in the current scenario, why is Koshyari's demand in contrast to it. 

"Is it because the RSS-backed BJP is not in power in Maharashtra?" the Marathi daily asked. Koshyari, who is the chancellor of universities in Maharashtra, last week asked Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to resolve the issue of conduct of final year university exams in the state "without any further delay in the larger interest of students". 

In a letter to CM, Koshyari said "not conducting the final year examinations by universities amounts to breach of the University Grants Commission guidelines". The governor also took strong objection to a letter written by state Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant to UGC, recommending cancellation of final year exams. Koshyari asked Thackeray to issue suitable instructions to Samant for his "unwarranted intervention". 

Defending Samant, the Sena said the minister had expressed his opinion about the examinations, but Koshyaris stand is to go ahead and conduct the exams. 

"The RSS-backed students' wing ABVP has already opposed holding exams in the current period in Gujarat and Goa. Then, why Koshyaris demand is in stark contract with ABVP. Is it because the RSS-backed BJP is not in power in Maharashtra?" the Uddhav Thackeray-led party wondered. These examinations are important for the future of 10 lakh students in the state, but it cannot be held by jeopardising their health, it said. -- ANI
11:33   Employers' listen up: A 4-day workweek could be the new normal
Most companies in the United States are looking forward to shortening work hours and include a four-day workweek in response to the novel coronavirus crisis as some countries implemented the idea floated by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda and observed an increase in staff productivity as well as better quality of life.

After quashing coronavairus outbreak in less than 50 days, Ardern floated the idea of having a four-day workweek which has been implemented in some countries.

In a Facebook video last week, Ardern said, she was seeking creative ways to stimulate domestic tourism help the industry recover as the country begins to reopen with strict border measures still in place, The Washington Post reported.

"I've heard lots of people suggesting we should have a four-day week," she said. "Ultimately, that really sits between employers and employees."

"I've heard lots of people suggesting we should have a four-day week," she said. "Ultimately, that really sits between employers and employees.""I'd really encourage people to think about that if you're an employer and in a position to do so," Ardern said, "if that's something that would work for your workplace."
11:30   1,701 migrants to Rajasthan test +ve for Covid
Rajasthan on Monday recorded 70 new cases of coronavirus, officials said. The number of cases in the state now stands at 7,100 and fatalities at 163. "As many as 70 fresh cases were reported in the state," additional chief secretary (health), Rohit Kumar Singh said. Of the 70 fresh cases, Pali recorded 25 cases followed by 22 in Sikar, 11 in Jaipur, seven in Kota, five in Alwar, one each in Dholpur and Swai Madhopur, officials said. 

A total 3,856 patients have recovered and 3,420 have been discharged. There are 3,081 active cases in the state as of now, they said. Jaipur had recorded maximum 78 deaths and 1,826 positive cases in the state followed by 24 deaths and 1,224 cases in Jodhpur, according to state government data. 

Among the total positive cases in the state are 1,701 migrants who travelled from different parts of the country to Rajasthan and were tested positive, the state government had said.  

The entire state is under lockdown since March 22 and massive screening and search is underway to trace the contagion. -- PTI

Image: Migrants families travel on horse carts to reach Jaipur on Friday. Pic: ANI
11:08   Monsoon to reach Mumbai between June 15 and 20
Update on India's most awaited season that holds the reins of the economy -- the monsoon forecast. 

Rajendra Kumar Jenamani, head of Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre, says India has seen the highest temperature of this year at 47.6 in the last two days. The heatwave will start subsiding from May 28 as easterly winds will start blowing in northern parts of the country.

"Rain accompanied by thunderstorm will start occurring from May 29 due to easterly winds in the northern parts of India and the temperature is expected to go down to 40 degrees Celsius.

"Southwest monsoon is expected to arrive over Kerala coast between June 1 and June 5 & is likely to reach Mumbai between June 15 and 20." 
11:02   How Singapore, India are contributing to a COVID-19 vaccine race
With the COVID-19 cases zipping past five million people globally last week and rocketing towards six million, the search for a vaccine and a therapy has become more and more urgent.

A paper published by the Imperial College London estimated that the number of people infected by COVID-19 in the UK as of March 30 was between 800,000 to 3.7 million. The official case count then was just 22,141. Even the more conservative actual estimate of 800,000 is 36 times higher than the reported count.Without a vaccine and an effective treatment, we may never get back to life as it used to be.

With new cases in the US and Europe declining, they are starting to gradually re-open their economies.Singapore has started to re-open some but limited businesses and social activities ahead of the official "circuit breaker" end date of June 1. 

There will however not be a sudden relaxation of the lockdown rules on that date - only a very gradual and controlled return to some form of normalcy which the government say will take months.

One of the activities that have not ceased during the lockdown is the search for a vaccine in the city-state which is a leading centre in the region for medical research.

Singapore was involved in the international clinical trial of the Gilead Sciences drug Remdesivir which was initially developed to treat Ebola. Around 100 patients in Singapore were enrolled in the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease led international trial which had about 1,000 patients taking part globally. 

The trial showed that Remdesivir significantly improved recovery prospects of COVID-19 patients.Singapore biotech firm Tychan in partnership with the Singapore Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), is working with Chugai Pharmaceutical of Japan on a monoclonal antibodies drug.

On the vaccine front, the Singapore Duke-NUS Medical School is working with Arcturus Therapeutics on its mRNA (messenger Ribonucleic Acid) vaccine which has been shown to be highly effective in pre-clinical studies.

RNA vaccines use a relatively new technology that works by introducing an RNA with specific information into the human body that will produce the antigen (a protein from the pathogen) which will then stimulate the immune system to fight the disease.

Another Singaporean biotech firm Esco Aster is developing a chimeric vaccine with US company Vivaldi Biosciences. Chimeric vaccines work by replacing genes from the target pathogen for similar but safe genes from a closely related organism. 

India's Pune-based Serum Institute is not only India's largest biotech company but one of the world's largest. It has the capacity to produce 1.5 billion doses of vaccine annually. It is currently working on three projects to produce COVID-19 vaccines - one is with UK's Oxford University, another with US-based biotech Codagenix, and it is also working on its own vaccine. To save time, it is taking the risk of preparing part of its facilities to be ready to produce between 20-40 million doses as soon as in September although one or more of the vaccines being worked on may not succeed in clinical trials or be approved by health authorities.

Usually, a factory is prepared for manufacturing a vaccine only after the vaccine has been approved as the equipment and set-up needed to produce different vaccines can be quite different. This process can take up to 6 months or more.

It is with this "running in parallel" concept in mind that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding factories to prepare for 7 different vaccines in the hope that it will save time and lives when a vaccine is ready. -- ANI
10:54   Mahesh Bhatt praises Anupam Kher as 'Saaransh' clocks 36 years
As his iconic film 'Saaransh' clocked 36 years on Monday, director Mahesh Bhatt recalled the portrayal of the central character of the movie by senior actor Anupam Kher.Bhatt took to Twitter to post a still from the flick featuring Kher.

"36 years of SAARANSH! He was just 28 years old when he made his debut in this iconic role of a school teacher who has lost his son in an act of senseless violence," the 'Sadak' director tweeted.

"Thank you, Anupam for helping me birth this heartbreaking inspired creation. @AnupamPKher #Saaransh," his tweet further read.

Veteran actor Anupam Kher's debut flick - 'Saaransh' - won him his first Filmfare award in the best actor category.

The film revolved around the sequence of events in the life of a retired school teacher and his wife after their son loses his life in a mugging.

Helmed by Bhatt, the film also features actors Soni Razdan, and Rohini Hattangadi. -- ANI

10:50   20-year-old allegedly commits suicide after parents denied internet access
A 20-year-old man allegedly committed suicide in Madhya Pradesh's Bhopal, as per information provided by police. Police informed that the man committed suicide after his parents denied to recharge his mobile's internet pack. "He was constantly asking his mother to recharge his internet pack; he committed suicide after being denied. Probe on," said S Sharma, Station-In charge, Bagsewaniya, Bhopal.Further investigation into the case is underway. -- ANI
10:24   Neighbour sneezes on Vir Das for breaking protocol
Actor-comedian Vir Das has shared a video where a man, whom he identified as his neighbour, is seen threatening him and sneezing on him for reportedly not following social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. The 40-year-old comic later rubbished the allegations of not abiding by the rules and regulations in a statement. 

In a three minute-long video posted on Twitter on Sunday by Das, the man is seen charging at the comedian, asking him to wear a mask, step inside his house and even forcefully sneezing on him. The man in the video also comes close to the actor to hit him, saying "Don't laugh I'll give you one blo**y slap" and that he wishes his dead parents would "haunt" Das. 

Explaining his side, the actor said he was helping his friend, who lives three houses away from him, by providing him dinner during the lockdown when the incident happened. He said the duo waited for the dinner to get cooked 15 feet away from each other, with Das being on his doorstep and his friend being outside. 

"I live on the ground floor. We've got a little sit out. At 10pm a neighbour came by, because we had cooked dinner for them too. We do that with them and also some of the others within the complex. We gave him a chair fifteen feet away, fully socially distanced. My neighbour had a can of coke from his house, a mask on, which he had pulled down to have a smoke. 

"I was on the outdoor sit out area of my house, neighbour was in the complex, fully socially distanced. Five minutes later, this happens. This man is not my landlord, he lives on the first floor of the annex building. He is upset because my landlord inherited the house I live in and he didn't," the "Hansmukh" actor said in the statement. 

Das said the man in the video does not own his doorstep, sit-out, or his house and he wondered if what the man did would qualify as harassment. "I'm not sure if an old man threatening to assault me, or sneezing on me, or asking his dead parent to haunt me qualifies as harassment. But this is a little ridiculous. 

"And before this turns into him going to the media, as he has done before, and I've sat through it quietly... I'm not normally one for drama.. I'm sorry but this crossed the line. How's your lockdown going?" he added. 

On Monday morning, Das released another statement "after a crazy night of zero sleep" to express his gratitude and an apology to the people concerned. "Thank you for all your support. Family and I are safe. In fact all our neighbours came by to make sure of it..." he began. 

Das apologised to his followers that his "personal drama" showed up on their screens. Dismissing the incident as "lockdown behaviour", the actor claimed that the man in question has been harassing him, his wife, his staff and many people in his housing society for "eight months".

"We have tried polite conversation, legal notices, regarding these episodes before, telling him categorically we would post it, letting it go, everything. I finally posted it on my social media because if not, I knew he would do it yet again. "Truthfully, I was just really angry last night. We took it quietly for eight months, and something different was needed," he said. -- PTI 
10:17   At 1 death, Meghalaya has least toll, Maha highest
India registered biggest single day spike of COVID-19 cases for the fourth consecutive day on Monday with 6,977 new infections, reported in the last 24 hours, taking the country's tally to 1,38,845, while the death toll rose to 4,021, according to the Union Health Ministry. 

A total 154 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours till Monday 8 am. The number of active COVID-19 cases climbed to 77,103 while 57,720 people have recovered and one patient has migrated, the ministry said.  

"Thus, around 41.57 per cent patients have recovered so far," a senior health ministry official said. The total confirmed cases includes foreigners. Of the 154 deaths reported since Sunday morning, 58 were from Maharashtra, 30 from Delhi, 29 from Gujarat, nine in Madhya Pradesh, eight from Tamil Nadu, six from Uttar Pradesh, four from Telangana, three each from Rajasthan and West Bengal, two from Bihar and one each from Punjab and Uttarakhand.  

Of the total 4,021 fatalities, Maharashtra tops tally with 1,635 deaths followed by Gujarat at 858 deaths, Madhya Pradesh at 290, West Bengal at 272, Delhi at 261, Rajasthan at 163, Uttar Pradesh at 161,Tamil Nadu at 111 and Andhra Pradesh at 56. 

The death toll reached 53 in Telangana, 42 in Karnataka and 40 in Punjab. Jammu and Kashmir has reported 21 fatalities due to the disease, Haryana has 16 deaths while Bihar has registered 13 and Odisha has seven deaths. Kerala, Jharkhand and Assam have reported four deaths each so far. Chandigarh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh each have recorded three COVID-19 fatalities each while Meghalaya has reported one fatality so far, according to the ministry data.  

According to the ministry's website, more than 70 per cent of the deaths are due to comorbidities. PTI
09:34   Dargah closes on Eid
The Mahim Dargah in Mumbai will remain closed for devotees today on Eid amid the 4th phase of Coronavirus lockdown.
09:25   Passengers flights cancelled without notice
Passengers of an Air India Bengaluru-Hyderabad flight say their flight has been cancelled, without prior notice from the airline. They say, "Only when our boarding passes were scanned at the airport entry we were told that boarding has been cancelled.We don't know what to do now."

The new normal: One step forward, two back. 
09:23   Face shields the new normal for flights?
Delhi: Passengers onboard Delhi-Bhubaneswar Vistara flight were seen wearing face shields as a precautionary measure against COVDI19. BJD MP Anubhav Mohanty on board the flight said "I was in Delhi since the Parliament's Budget session. Now, I am returning to my state Odisha."
09:15   6,977 Covid cases in a day in India!
Highest-ever spike of 6977 COVID-19 cases and 154 deaths in India in the last 24 hours. Total number of cases in the country now at 1,38,845 including 77,103 active cases, 57,720 cured/discharged and 4021 deaths: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
08:58   Another Maha cabinet minister tests Covid +ve
A senior Congress leader who is a minister in the Maharashtra cabinet has tested positive for novel coronavirus, sources and a Health official said on Sunday.
The minister has been travelling between Mumbai and his home district in Marathwada frequently, he said.
"He contracted the infection a few days back and is now undergoing treatment," the official said.
Earlier, NCP leader and Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad had tested positive for coronavirus. 

He recovered after remaining admitted in a hospital in Mumbai for more than two weeks. 
08:42   US to provide $6 million to Pakistan to fight coronavirus
The United States on Sunday announced that it will provide $6 million aid to Pakistan to support its effort in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
US ambassador to Pakistan, Paul Jones, in a video message said that the aid money will strengthen Pakistan's "response by expanding training for healthcare workers who take care of patients in hospitals with severe cases of coronavirus; preventing the spread of coronavirus in healthcare facilities and providing a fourth mobile lab to test and treat Pakistanis living in virus hotspots".
Jones in the message also expressed good wished for Pakistan on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr.
"I would like to congratulate all Pakistanis on the completion of Ramazan," said Jones.
Jones also thanked Islamabad for its recent delivery of medical supplies as a gesture of friendship and partnership between the two countries.
The embassy said that the US government has now committed a total of $21 million since it declared Pakistan a 'priority country for coronavirus response'. -- PTI 
Illuminated Jama Masjid on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr
Illuminated Jama Masjid on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr
08:41   PM greets people on Eid-ul-Fitr
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday extended greetings on Eid-ul-Fitr, hoping that the special occasion furthers the spirit of compassion and harmony.
"Greetings on Eid-ul-Fitr. May this special occasion further the spirit of compassion, brotherhood and harmony. May everyone be healthy and prosperous," the prime minister said. 
08:21   Domestic flights resume after 2 months
Indian skies opened up for domestic passenger services from Monday after a gap of two months, with Delhi-Pune and Mumbai-Patna flights were among the first to take off, aviation industry sources said.
All scheduled commercial passenger flights have been suspended since March 25 when the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
Both the flights were be operated by IndiGo on Monday morning. 

It was announced last Thursday that one-third of pre-lockdown domestic flights will operate from Monday. 

All international scheduled commercial passenger flights remain suspended. 
08:14   Hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr passes away
Three-time Olympic gold medal-winning hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr died in Chandigarh on Monday after battling multiple health issues for over two weeks.
The iconic player was 95 and is survived by his daughter Sushbir and three sons Kanwalbir, Karanbir, Gurbir.
"He died at around 6:30 this morning," Abhijit Singh, Director Fortis Hospital, Mohali, where he was admitted on May 8 said. 
Balbir Sr was in a semi-comatose state since May 18 and had developed a blood clot in his brain after being first admitted to the hospital for bronchial pneumonia with high fever.
One of the country's greatest athletes, Balbir Sr was the only Indian among 16 legends chosen by the International Olympic Committee across modern Olympic history.
His world record for most goals scored by an individual in the men's hockey final of the Olympics still remains unbeaten. -- PTI