Fri, 16 April 2021
Appoint lawyer to represent Jadhav: Pak to India
23:57 Ensure free movement of medical oxygen carrying vehicles along inter-state borders: MHA
The Centre on Friday directed the states to ensure uninterrupted movement of medical oxygen carrying vehicles along their borders, and said they must not impose any curb on production and supply of the essential public health commodity anywhere.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla's communication to chief secretaries of all states and Union territories came in the wake of reports of shortage of the medical oxygen for COVID-19 patients in different parts of the country in the last few days.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday also undertook a comprehensive review to ensure adequate medical grade oxygen supply in the country and called for ramping up its production.
In the communication to the chief secretaries of states/UTs, the Union home secretary said there is no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods as announced in the guidelines on March 23.
He said in the last few days, a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases has been observed in the country along with high positivity rate, and in order to break the chain of transmission and curb the spread of the infection, various states and UTs have imposed additional restrictions on certain activities, curfews, among others.
Bhalla said availability of adequate and uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen is an important pre-requisite for managing moderate and severe cases of COVID-19 and with increasing cases, the medical oxygen supplies will need to keep pace with the requirements of the states.
The home secretary emphasised that medical oxygen is an essential public health commodity and any impediment in its supply in the country may critically impact the management of patients suffering from COVID-19 disease in other parts of the country.
"Therefore, you are requested to ensure that no such restriction is imposed on the movement of medical oxygen between the states and UTs, and transport authorities shall be instructed to accordingly allow free inter-state movement of oxygen carrying vehicles," the letter said.
Bhalla told the states that no curb shall be imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to limit the oxygen supplies only to the hospitals of the state in which they are located and there shall be free movement of oxygen carrying vehicles into the cities, without any restriction of timings, while also enabling inter-city supply without restriction. -- PTI
22:56 Appoint lawyer to represent Kulbhushan Jadhav: Pak to India
Pakistan on Friday again urged India to appoint a lawyer to represent death row convict Kulbhushan Jadhav to implement the verdict of the International Court of Justice.
The Islamabad High Court, while hearing the case on Thursday, asked the Foreign Office to approach India about appointing a counsel and clarifying the issue of jurisdiction of the case being heard by the court.
FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry, addressing a weekly briefing, said: We once again urge India to cooperate with the Pakistani courts by inter-alia appointing a lawyer in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case so that full effect could be given to the ICJ judgment in the case.
Jadhav, the 50-year-old retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017. India approached the International Court of Justice against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence.
The Hague-based ICJ ruled in July 2019 that Pakistan must undertake an "effective review and reconsideration" of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay.
The ICJ, in its 2019 verdict, had asked Pakistan to provide a proper forum for appeal against the sentence given to Jadhav by a military court.
Asked about backchannel contacts with India, Chaudhry said states have ways and means to communicate with other states which remain available even during wars.
He said Pakistan never shied away from talks with India and has always underscored the need for a meaningful dialogue' and peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
"We believe durable peace, security and development in the region hinge on peaceful resolution of the long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute," he said.
Asked about the UAE's role in peace effort between Pakistan and India, Chaudhry said Pakistan always maintained that the international community can play an important role in averting risks to peace and stability in the region, and facilitating a just and lasting solution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
He said that the onus is on India to create the enabling environment for a meaningful dialogue that promotes peace and precludes the occurrences which might result in avoidable conflict in the region.
Chaudhry said that a group of 818 Sikhs arrived in Pakistan on April 12 via the Wagah Border to participate in the annual rituals of Baisakhi Festival at Gurdwara Panja Sahib.
He said that the pilgrims would visit different Gurdwaras during their stay from April 12-22, including a one-night stay at Kartarpur for the first time.
Rejecting concern by India about their security, Chaudhry said that the relevant institutions made adequate arrangements for travelling, accommodation, langer, security and medical assistance to the Sikhs.
Asked about the France's advisory asking its citizens to leave Pakistan, he said that the advice issued by the French Embassy apparently was based on their own assessment of the situation. -- PTI
22:49 US keeps 11 countries including India, China in currency watch list
The United States on Friday placed 11 countries, including India, China, Japan, South Korea, Germany and Italy in the currency practices monitoring list.
Other countries named by the Department of Treasury in its quarterly report to Congress, the first under the Biden administration, are Ireland, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Mexico.
All except Ireland and Mexico were covered in the December 2020 report, which was under the previous Trump administration.
As directed by Congress, Treasury has established a monitoring list of major trading partners that merit close attention to their currency practices and macroeconomic policies.
An economy meeting two of the three criteria in the 2015 Act is placed on the Monitoring List.
These are a persistent, one-sided intervention in the foreign exchange market that occur when net purchases of foreign currency are conducted repeatedly, in at least six out of 12 months, and these net purchases total at least two per cent of an economy's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over a 12-month period.
As a further measure, the Treasury will add and retain on the Monitoring List any major US trading partner that accounts for a large and disproportionate share of the overall US trade deficit even if that economy has not met two of the three criteria from the 2015 Act, it said.
In its report, the Treasury said that a number of economies have conducted foreign exchange market intervention in a persistent, one-sided manner.
"Over the four quarters through December 2020, five major US trading partners -- Vietnam, Switzerland, Taiwan, India and Singapore -- intervened in the foreign exchange market in a sustained, asymmetric manner with the effect of weakening their currencies," it alleged.
Three of these economies -- Vietnam, Switzerland, and Taiwan -- exceeded the two other thresholds established by Treasury to identify potentially unfair currency practices or excessive external imbalances, which could impede the US growth or harm US workers and firms, the report said.
According to the report, the Chinese economic growth in 2020 exceeded that of other large economies but has been driven by the early resumption of manufacturing and increased external demand, especially for medical supplies, personal protection equipment and electronics.
"Questions remain about the continued strength of the Chinese recovery absent a sustained increase in household consumption. While official data do not show significant accumulation of foreign exchange assets by the central bank, China's failure to publish foreign exchange intervention and broader lack of transparency around key features of its exchange rate mechanism and the activities of state-owned banks warrant close monitoring of renminbi developments going forward," it said.
Over the four quarters through December 2020, a number of economies have experienced significant expansions in their current account surpluses as the pandemic drastically affected global trade, including China, Taiwan and Singapore, while other economies, including Germany and Vietnam have maintained large current account surpluses, which allowed for external asset stock positions to widen further, it added. -- PTI
22:31 2nd Covid wave can last up to 100 days: Advisory
The second wave of coronavirus can last up to 100 days and such waves will keep coming till 70 per cent of the population is vaccinated and herd immunity is achieved, according to an advisory prepared by an expert for Southeast Delhi Police.
Aimed at creating awareness among police personnel, the advisory by Dr. Neeraj Kaushik said the new mutated virus has potential to skip immunity and even vaccine. "This is the reason for re-infection and cases among vaccinated people."
This mutated virus is so infectious that if one member is affected, the whole family gets infected. It is preying on children too, Dr Kaushik said in the document.
He said that routine RT-PCR tests may not detect the mutated virus. However, loss of smell is a very strong indicator that a person is corona positive.
"The second wave of coronavirus can last up to 100 days. Such waves will keep coming until we attain 70 percent vaccination and herd community. So, do not lower your guard, especially mask," the advisory read.
It said surface transmission of virus is no more a threat now as per the recent trends. Hence, not much emphasis on surface disinfection is needed.
The doctor told police personnel that the chance of getting infected becomes very high "when you come in contact with the positive person for more than 15 minutes".
People with comorbidities such as obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease etc. must take extra precaution, he said.
Dr Kaushik advised police personnel to avoid over exercise and junk food.
"Go for nutritious foods including juice, coconut water. Dalia in meals," he said.
He also suggested the personnel change their "careless mindset and attitude and learn to wear masks professionally".
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southeast) RP Meena said Kaushik has been working with the district police since the pandemic began.
He has conducted several various campaigns and prescribed medicines for our staff, Meena said, adding suggestions by him will help us understand and deal with the second wave. -- PTI
22:09 Mumbai reports 8,839 new COVID-19 cases, 53 deaths
Mumbai on Friday reported 8,839 new COVID-19 cases, taking the tally to 5,61,998, while 53 more patients succumbed to the infection, the city civic body said.
According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's updated data, the new cases took the overall COVID-19 tally in the financial capital to 5,61,998, while the toll rose to 12,242.
As compared to a day before, the city reported nearly 600 more COVID-19 cases and four more fatalities. Mumbai had recorded 8,217 new infections and 49 fatalities on Thursday.
Mumbai's highest one-day case count so far is 11,163, reported on April 4.
Also, 9,033 patients were discharged from hospitals during the day, taking the number of recovered cases to 4,63,344, the civic body said.
The BMC said with 50,533 more COVID-19 tests conducted in the last 24 hours, the number of samples examined so far increased to 48,51,752.
The city's COVID-19 recovery rate stood at 82 per cent, while the growth rate was 1.60 per cent, it said.
According to the BMC, Mumbai has 97 containment zones in slums and chawls (old row tenements), while the number of sealed buildings in the city stood at 1,169. -- PTI
22:05 Maha reports biggest ever single-day Covid spike
Maharashtra on Friday reported 63,729 fresh coronavirus cases, the highest single-day count so far, taking the tally past the 37-lakh mark, while 398 more patients succumbed to the infection, said a health department official.
With 63,729 COVID new cases, the tally increased to 37,03,584, while 398 fatalities pushed the toll to 59,551, he said.
The state's earlier highest one-day case count was 63,294, recorded on April 11, followed by 61,695 on April 15.
Also, 45,335 patients were discharged during the day, raising the number of recovered cases to 30,04,391, he said.
Maharashtra's number of active cases has increased to 6,38,034, the official said.
Mumbai recorded 8,803 new cases and 53 fatalities, taking the tally to 5,62,207 and the toll to 12,250.
With 2,72,226 new tests, the number of samples tested so far in Maharashtra has gone up to 2,33,08,878, the official said.
Currently, 35,14,181 people are in home quarantine, while 25,168 people are in institutional quarantine in the state, the health department said.
Maharashtra's COVID-19 recovery rate stood at 81.12 per cent, while the fatality rate was 1.61 per cent, the department said.
The Mumbai division, including Mumbai city and its satellite towns, recorded 17,635 cases and 73 deaths, taking the count of cases to 11,68,411 and the fatalities to 21,489, it said.
The Nashik division reported 9,286 cases, including 2,459 in Nashik city, while 2,159 infections were recorded in Ahmednagar district. Out of 73 fresh deaths in the division, 25 were from Ahmednagar district and 20 in Nashik district, among others, the official said.
The Pune division saw 13,891 fresh infections, including 5,437 in Pune city. Out of 65 deaths in the division, Pune city and Satara reported 36 and 12, respectively, the official said.
The Kolhapur division added 2,106 new cases, the Aurangabad division 3,095, the Latur division 4,893 and the Akola division 2,264, he said.
The Nagpur division registered 10,559 cases, including 4,190 in Nagpur city, while Bhandara district recorded 1,384 fresh infections. -- PTI
21:55 China to build more bio labs amid row over Wuhan lab
China has operationalised its new biosecurity law to fortify the legal cover for the establishment and safe operation of more bio labs in the country amidst questions whether the COVID-19 originated from such a laboratory in Wuhan.
The novel coronavirus emerged at China's central Wuhan city in December 2019 and became a pandemic, upending life across the globe.
Under the new Biosecurity Law, China will continue to build and approve more labs specialising in advanced pathogenic microbiology with a scrupulous and scientific manner, the country's Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Xiang Libin said.
China will carry out major scientific research to enhance its biosecurity science and technological capacity against future infectious diseases, state-run Global Times quoted Xiang as saying.
The ministry has examined and approved the construction of three biosafety level-4 labs, or P4 labs, and 88 biosafety level-3 labs, or P3 labs, in China, he said.
A biosafety level (BSL), or pathogen/protection level, is a set of biocontainment precautions required to isolate dangerous biological agents in an enclosed laboratory facility.
The levels of containment range from the lowest biosafety level 1 (BSL-1) to the highest at level 4 (BSL-4).
Bai Chunli, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in April last year that China had two P4 labs besides 81 P3 labs in operation or approved for construction.
In contrast, the US has 12 P4 and 1,500 P3 labs, the Global Times report said.
Bio labs acquired significance as the US has alleged that the COVID-19 may have emanated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) which is a P-4 bio lab. China has strongly denied the charge.
A team of WHO experts, which probed the origin of the coronavirus, concluded last month that all hypotheses included the allegation that COVID-19 could have emanated from a bio lab "remained open".
World Health Organisation Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, while receiving the report of the international experts' team which visited Wuhan, said on March 30 that "as far as the WHO is concerned, all hypotheses remain on the table".
21:26 Bengal polls: Coronavirus-positive RSP candidate dies
Revolutionary Socialist Party candidate Pradip Kumar Nandi, who tested positive for COVID-19 four days ago, died at a hospital in Berhampore on Friday, a health department official said.
Nandi, 73, the party's nominee from the Jangipur assembly constituency in Murshidabad district in the ongoing West Bengal assembly elections, was in home isolation and taken to the Berhampore hospital on Thursday night after his condition deteriorated, he said.
He had comorbidities and died around 6 pm at the medical facility, the official said.
Congress candidate from Samsherganj assembly segment Rezaul Haque, who had tested positive for COVID-19, also died at a hospital in Kolkata on Thursday. -- PTI
20:52 Delhi sees record daily rise of 19,486 Covid cases
Delhi on Friday recorded the biggest single-day jump of 19,486 fresh COVID-19 cases and 141 deaths due to the disease, according to data shared by the health department.
This is the fifth record daily rise in cases in the national capital in the last six days.
The positivity rate fell marginally to 19.69 per cent from Thursday's 20.22 per cent, the highest so far.
With the fresh cases, the national capital's cumulative tally has risen to 8,03,623. The death toll stands at 11,793, according to the latest bulletin.
A total of 98,957 tests, including 64,939 RT-PCR tests and 34,018 rapid antigen tests, were conducted the previous day, the bulletin said.
So far, over 7.3 lakh patients have recovered in Delhi, it added.
The number of active cases in the city increased to 61,005 from 54,309 the day before, the bulletin stated.
The number of people under home isolation increased to 29,705 from 26,974 on Thursday, while that of containment zones mounted to 9,929 from 8,661 the day before, it said. -- PTI
Vehicles line up outside a crematorium in Gujarat
20:45 'Divya Bhaskar' pens obituary for over 5000 Gujaratis lost to Covid
In the wake of revelations that the Gujarat government is underreporting Covid deaths, Divya Bhaskar today published a moving obituary for the over 5,000 people who have lost their lives to the virus in the state so far writes NewsLaundry.
The obituary accompanies a report headlined "Number of lives lost to coronavirus in Gujarat crosses 5000', the media watch website says, here, adding that the obituary, loosely translated from Gujarati, reads:
"What do I write to make my divine offerings?
What do I write to describe my feelings ?
What do I write to express my fury?
What do I write to douse my grief?
What do I write to offer my love?
What do I write to deceive myself?
There really are no words.
I pray to the almighty that may the souls of those who lost their lives to corona rest in peace.
And may he give strength to their loved ones to get through this pain.
Om shanti shanti shanti.
In this moment of grief, 6.5 crore Gujaratis are with you."
20:20 EC makes seizures worth Rs 1,000 cr in 5-state polls
The seizure of illegal inducements to voters, such as liquor and cash, during the ongoing polls to five assemblies and by-polls to some seats has crossed the record value of Rs 1,000 crore, a whopping jump of over four times since the 2016 polls, the Election Commission said Friday.
An Election Commission "progressive" report, which will get updated as the remaining phases of poll are conducted, said the maximum Rs 446.28 crore was seized in Tamil Nadu, where the elections have already ended, followed by West Bengal (Rs 300.11 crore), where four phases are yet to take place.
Polling in Assam, Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry has also finished. Counting of votes for these five assemblies is slated to be held on May 2.
The poll-panel called these seizures by its various field and technical enforcement teams a "historic milestone" achieved "for the first time in any assembly electoral process, meaning during simultaneously-held assembly polls.
"The stupendous rise in seizure figures is because of better preparedness and multi-pronged strategy of the Commission. The Commission conducted exhaustive reviews at various levels which included review meetings with enforcement agencies of the state/UT and central agencies," the EC said in a statement.
The agencies of the Union government primarily include the Income Tax Department, the Customs and GST directorates and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
According to data compiled till Thursday, the EC said, Tamil Nadu had reported a total seizures of Rs 446.28 crore, West Bengal Rs 300.11 crore (so far), Assam 122.35 crore, Kerala Rs 84.91 crore, Puducherry Rs 36.95 crore.
Additionally, the seizure of cash, liquor, drugs and other freebies of Rs 10.84 crore was reported in constituencies that saw by-polls during the same period, it said.
The total value of these seizures stands at Rs 1001.44 crore while it was Rs 225.77 crore in these five assemblies during the 2016 assembly polls.
A pie chart analysis shows that while liquor (Rs 41.97 crore out of total Rs 122.35 crore) was the freebie that was being pushed maximum to lure voters in Assam, precious metals (Rs 27.42 crore out of total Rs 36.95 crore) was used the most as a bribe to attract voters in the Union Territory of Puducherry.
Similarly, in Tamil Nadu, cash (Rs 236.69 crore out of total Rs 446.28 crore) was abused the most as poll bribe, while in Kerala precious metals was used the most to attract voters (Rs 50.86 crore out of Rs 84.91 crore).
In West Bengal-- where the remaining four phases of polls are scheduled to take place on Saturday followed by on April 22, 26 and 29 -- drugs and narcotics are the highest category of illegal inducements seized till now (Rs 118.83 crore out of the total Rs 300.11 crore). -- PTI
20:08 CICSE defers class 10, 12 exams
The CICSE or Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations on Friday deferred the board exams of classes 10 and 12 in view of a rise in COVID-19 cases across the country.
In light of the nationwide surge in coronavirus cases, the class 10 and 12 exams which were to be held from May 4 have been deferred, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations' chief executive and secretary Gerry Arathoon said.
"We will closely monitor the situation and review it in the first week of June to take a final decision on conduct of examination," he said.
"While class 12 exams will be conducted at a later stage, class 10 students will get an option to either appear in offline exams later or get evaluated on basis of fair and unbiased criteria to be developed by board," Arathoon added.
Earlier this week, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had cancelled its class 10 board exams and deferred the class 12 board exams. Several state boards have postponed or cancelled their exams too. --PTI
20:07 Actor Vivekh suffers cardiac arrest, put on ECMO
The health condition of popular Tamil actor Vivekh, who suffered a cardiac arrest due to one hundred per cent blockage in a heart vessel, is critical and he has been put on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation support - to circulate blood through an artificial lung back into the bloodstream - doctors attending on him said.
ECMO provides heart-lung bypass support outside of the patient.
The 59-year-old comedian will be closely monitored for the next 24 hours and his sudden downturn in health has nothing to do with the Covaxin shot that he was administered on Thursday, said Dr. Raju Sivasamy, vice president of SIMS hospital here, where the actor is undergoing treatment.
Tamil Nadu health secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan, who along with health officials,visited the hospital and interacted with the medical team attending on Vivekh, said there was no Covid vaccine reaction on the actor who had tested negative for the virus.
"Usually, a vaccine reaction occurs within 15 to 30 minutes. Such is not his case. His smiling visage when he took the shots yesterday along with his team is still fresh in my memory," Radhakrishnan told reporters at the hospital.
He claimed six people had taken the shots along with Vivekh.
"Nearly 23,000 people have been administered the Covaxin at the hospital here and 5. 68 lakh throughout Tamil Nadu, so far. There has been no adverse reaction anywhere," the health secretary said.
On Thursday, about 830 people were given Covaxin at the Omandurar Government hospital where the actor took the first dose.
"He had volunteered to have the dose administered at the government hospital so that others could get inspired and insulate themselves from Coronavirus," Radhakrishnan said.
Vivekh was brought to the hospital at 11 am today in an unconscious condition by his family members and immediately after admission, the emergency and cardiac team resuscitated him.
Angioplasty and stenting was performed as one of the critical blood vessels in his left coronary artery - left anterior descending artery - had a block.
"It took nearly an hour for the doctors to remove the block.
He was then put on an ECMO.
His is an acute coronary syndrome with cardiogenic shock and not related to the vaccine," Dr Sivasamy told reporters and added that test and CT reports showed that the actor did not have COVID-19.
The actor underwent emergency coronary angiogram followed by angioplasty.
"This is a separate cardiac event. It may not be due to COVID vaccination," Dr Vijayakumar Chockken, director, medical services said. -- PTI
19:55 Krishna Prasad joins 'The Hindu' as group editorial officer
'The Hindu group, which publishes The Hindu newspaper, has appointed Krishna Prasad as its first ever "group editorial officer". Prasad is the former editor-in-chief of Outlook magazine and editor of Vijay Times. He also runs the blogs Churumuri and Sans Serif on Indian journalism, NewsLaundry has reported.
'In a letter to employees of the company, Malini Parthasarathy, the chairman of the Hindu Publishing Group and former editor of The Hindu newspaper, said the role of group editorial officer was created to help them in their "ambitious journey towards the digital transformation of editorial operations". The officer will "coordinate with the editors of the various print publications and digital offerings on content strategy and management",' the media watch website writes, here.
19:13 Covid: EC bans rallies in Bengal from 7 pm to 10 am
The Election Commission has banned rallies, public meetings in West Bengal from 7 pm to 10 am beginning Friday due to rise in COVID-19 cases.
18:45 15-day-old infant dies of COVID-19 in Gujarat
A 15-day-old baby girl, who was born to a COVID-19 patient, succumbed to the infection at a hospital in Gujarat's Surat city, an official said on Friday.
The infant was born with the infection on April 1, as her mother had also contracted the disease, said Dinesh Navadiya, the trustee of Diamond Hospital said.
While the child's mother was shifted to another hospital, the newborn was under intensive treatment and was also administered remdesivir injection when her condition started deteriorating, he said.
The baby, who was on ventilator support, breathed her last on Thursday night, Navadiya said.
Former mayor of Surat Dr Jagdish Patel, who had recently recovered from COVID-19, donated his blood plasma for the infant's treatment, it was stated.
"Our doctors tried their best to save the newborn. As per our knowledge, she was one of the youngest victims of coronavirus in Gujarat," Navadiya said.
On Wednesday, a 14-day-old boy from adjoining Tapi district, who had contracted the infection, died at Surat's new civil hospital.
According to doctors, unlike the first wave witnessed last year, more children are getting infected with coronavirus this time around.
"The infection rate of the new strain is higher than the previous strain. Hence, even children are contracting the disease this time, as the earning members of a household get infected first and then pass the virus on to other members of the family," Ahmedabad-based paediatrician, Dr Nishchal Bhatt said.
Surat city on Thursday registered 1,551 COVID-19 cases and 26 casualties. -- PTI
18:29 Gainers and losers in the Sensex pack
A strong recovery in the rupee, which zoomed 58 paise, and a bullish trend in global equities supported the bourses on Friday, traders said.
After a choppy session, the 30-share BSE Sensex closed 28.35 points or 0.06 per cent higher at 48,832.03.
Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty rose 36.40 points or 0.25 per cent to 14,617.85.
Asian Paints was the top performer among the Sensex components, spurting 3.07 per cent, followed by UltraTech Cement, ONGC, M&M, Sun Pharma, HCL Tech, Tech Mahindra and Nestle India.
On the other hand, ICICI Bank, L&T, Bajaj Finance, TCS, SBI, Infosys and Reliance Industries were among the losers, declining up to1.55 per cent.
18:26 Mohan Bhagwat discharged from hospital, advised home quarantine
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, who had earlier tested positive for Covid-19, has been discharged from the Kingsway hospital in Nagpur where he was admitted.
The team of attending doctors decided to discharge the RSS chief with the advice to remain in home quarantine for the next five days.
"All his parameters like pulse, blood pressure, respiration, oxygenation were normal. All blood investigation including markers were normal today, so the attending doctors have decided to discharge him today," a statement from the hospital said.
Bhagwat had tested positive for the virus on April 9.
18:12 Minister Prakash Javadekar tests positive for Covid
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on Friday said that he has tested positive for Covid-19 and urged those who came in contact with him in the last two-three days to get themselves tested.
Javadekar, who holds the key portfolios of environment, forest and climate change; information and broadcasting; and heavy industries and public enterprises; informed about having tested positive for coronavirus on Twitter.
"I have tested #COVID positive today. All those who have come in contact with me in the last 2-3 days may please get themselves tested," the 70-year-old Union minister said.
Several top political leaders, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, have also tested positive for Covid-19 recently.
17:58 Maha to face Remdesivir crunch in 2 to 3 days: Min
Maharashtra will face a shortage of 12,000 to 15,000 Remdesivir injections, used to treat COVID-19 patients, for the next two to three days, state Food and Drug Administration Minister Rajendra Shingane said on Friday.
He said pharma companies manufacturing Remdesivir have stepped up production but it will take time for the new stock to reach the market.
Speaking to reporters in Mumbai, he said, "Companies that produce Remdesivir injection have increased their production but it will take some time for the vials to hit the market. If we consider a 10-12 per cent shortage, Maharashtra will continue to face a shortage of 12,000 to 15,000 Remdesivir vials for the next two to three days."
Blaming companies for delay in supply of the much sough-after COVID-19 drug, the FDA minister said, "The heads of Remdesivir-making companies had 15 days back assured me to supply around 55,000 vials of the injection. However, till April 15 these companies could provide only 37,000 to 39,000 vials to the state."
"I held a video conference meeting with the CEOs and MDs of some of the companies that produce Remdesivir today again. These companies have now assured me that supply will be streamlined April 19 onwards," he said.
He lauded the Centre's move to ban the export of Remdesivir.
"Ready stocks of Remdesivir (which were bound for shipments abroad) are available even in Maharashtra. Some of the company representatives met me with a proposal of allowing these stocks to be sold in Maharashtra," Shingane said.
"Maharashtra chief minster Uddhav Thackeray has also issued orders allowing export-bound stocks to be sold in the state (following the ban). I do not know how much such vials are available (with companies)," he said. -- PTI
PM Modi meets people from the Matua community in Bengal
17:38 Matua votes to play crucial role in deciding fate of poll-bound Bengal
As the West Bengal Assembly elections is on its fifth phase, the crucial Matua community's (or Namasudras) votes that forms a major chunk of votes in the upcoming phases happens to be instrumental in deciding who comes into power in the state. In areas that have a predominant presence of this community, political parties are wooing Matuas with varied promises.On one hand, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is pitching implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the first cabinet meeting once it forms government in the state whereas the Left Front that has the fragrance of its lost glory lingering in these areas speaks of providing employment and education. All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) stated that it has done a lot of development for Matua but promises to do more.People belonging to this community are classified as a Scheduled Caste. Immediately after partition, the community started migrating to the state of West Bengal. Roughly there is a presence of around 2.5 crores Matuas pan West Bengal whereas pan India the figure scores to approximately 6 crores.With its huge population, it is believed that the voters belonging to this community possibly can influence at least 40 Assembly seats in the state, especially the fate of parties in North 24 Parganas, Nadia, Coochbehar and Burdwan districts.
Meghdoot Gyan a Matua who lives in Thakurnagar demands the implementation of CAA. Gyan's village is among the ones that have the maximum presence of the Matua community.
"We the Matua community who escaped to India because of the issue of religion demands implementation of CAA, no matter who comes to power. Our citizenship right is the issue, which needs to be addressed immediately," Gyan said.
Sourabh Tikadar an expert on Matua community said, "A minimal percentage of Matuas have developed themselves in terms of education, employment and other basic necessities however a large percentage has still remained underdeveloped. The underdeveloped Matuas need issues of health, education, shelter and economic stability addressed."
Tikadar sternly said, "It is very much visible that because of the community's massive population the political parties are banking on them and it is absolutely political in nature. Moreover, the Matuas are mostly united and hence political parties want these people beside them for votes."
Candidate Kapil Krishna Thakur of Samyukt Morcha said, "We are focusing on employment because it is the primary requirement for existence irrespective of caste, creed and refugee level", however, he said the issue of citizenship holds importance.
Since the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, both the BJP and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) have outdone each other to woo the Matuas ahead of elections.
History shows that in 2011, TMC received support from Matuas. Again in 2016 out of 33 seats TMC won 27. However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls BJP gained a foothold here, TMC lost 12 Assembly seats.
However, before the 2019 elections, an allocation of Rs 10 crore for the development of the Matua Development Board and University was announced by the incumbent West Bengal government.
The fifth phase of polling will be held on Saturday, with 319 candidates contesting for 45 constituencies across six districts - Jalpaiguri, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Nadia, North 24 Parganas and Purba Bardhaman. -- ANI
17:31 Pawan Kalyan tests positive for Covid
Telugu film star and Jana Sena Party chief K Pawan Kalyan has tested positive for coronavirus but is now stable, his political secretary P Hariprasad said on Friday.
"Kalyan is being monitored closely by his personal doctor as well as a team of experts from Apollo Hospitals. There is some flum in his lungs and he is suffering from small bouts of fever. But he is stable," Hariprasad said in a statement.
Kalyan remained in self-isolation at his farm house outside Hyderabad after returning from the by-election campaign in Tirupati on April 3. Initial test turned out a negative result for Covid- 19 but he continued to suffer from slight fever and body pain.
"A second test revealed the Covid-19 infection," Hariprasad said. A cardiologist and viral diseases expert Dr T Suman, their family medical advisor, has been attending on Kalyan while a team of experts from Apollo was also treating the star actor. Hariprasad quoted Kalyan as saying that he was stable and would soon come before his fans and party workers in full health.
17:14 Benchmarks eke out slim gains; close lower for the week
The Sensex and Nifty ticked higher for the third session on the trot on Friday but could not wipe off weekly losses amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. A strong recovery in the rupee, which zoomed 58 paise, and a bullish trend in global equities supported the bourses on Friday, traders said.
After a choppy session, the 30-share BSE Sensex closed 28.35 points or 0.06 per cent higher at 48,832.03. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty rose 36.40 points or 0.25 per cent to 14,617.85.
Asian Paints was the top performer among the Sensex components, spurting 3.07 per cent, followed by UltraTech Cement, ONGC, M&M, Sun Pharma, HCL Tech, Tech Mahindra and Nestle India.
On the other hand, ICICI Bank, L&T, Bajaj Finance, TCS, SBI, Infosys and Reliance Industries were among the losers, declining up to1.55 per cent. During the holiday-truncated week, the Sensex sank 759.29 points or 1.53 per cent, while the Nifty tumbled 217 points or 1.46 per cent.
17:10 High drama! Cannabis grown in Dombivali flat
The Narcotics Control Bureau raided a flat in Dombivali in neighboring Thane district and seized cannabis being cultivated in a flat using a method in which plants are grown with using soil, also called hydroponic farming, an official said on Friday.
The drug was being cultivated a two bedroom-hall-kitchen (BHK) flat owned by one Rehan Khan, who is based in Saudi Arabia and was financing the operation, the official added.
"After the raid on Thursday, we have seized pH regulators, plant nutrients, clay pebbles, water pumps, air circulation systems, carbon dioxide gas cylinders, photosynthesis lighting systems etc from the flat.
The hydroponic cultivation of cannabis was being done by two people identified as Javed Jahangir Shaikh and Arshad Khatri. Shaikh is an expert in this kind of farming, while Khatri was looking after the distribution. The information about the flat was given by Ganesh Shere and Siddhant Amin, who were arrested from Parel in Mumbai on Monday," he said. -- PTI
17:06 Bengal poll schedule should be maintained, Left Front tells all-party meet on COVID
The Left Front on Friday told an all-party meeting called by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) over the alarming COVID-19 situation in West Bengal that the poll schedule should be maintained, CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP Bikash Bhattacharya said..
Out of the eight-phase assembly elections in the state, four phases have been completed and the remaining four are scheduled to be held between April 17 and 29.
"Our point is that the schedule should be maintained. The election is in motion. There is no question of change of schedule at this point of time," Bhattacharya said after the all-party meeting. Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Thursday urged the Election Commission to think about conducting polls for the remaining assembly seats at one go.
West Bengal CEO Aariz Aftab called the all-party meeting following the Calcutta High Courts direction to him and all district magistrates of the state to ensure strict implementation of COVID-19 protocol during campaigning for the remaining phases of the election.
TMC MP Derek O'Brien
16:55 TMC wants all phases clubbed amid Covid surge
TMC leader Derek O'Brien on the EC's all party meeting regarding the Bengal polls the Covid surge. "TMC's position is clear, we want remaining elections to be held in one phase. I request BJP to make their position clear. Do they agree with us that politics is a second priority, first is handling the COVID19 pandemic?"
An all-party meeting called by Chief Electoral Officer, West Bengal over COVID19 norms, was held at Kolkata Circuit House. Bharatiya Janata Party delegation and the TMC delegation attended the meeting, among other parties. Reports say the next phases may go to the polls on one day due to the surge in Covid cases.
16:42 Haffkine targets 22.8 cr Covaxin vials a year
After receiving permission to make Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin, Mumbai-based Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical on Friday said it would take least at one year's time for the company to start actual production. A top official said the state-run company is targeting to produce 22.8 crore vials of the vaccine per year.
Speaking to reporters, Dr Sandeep Rathod, managing director, Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, said, "Our target is to produce around 22.8 crore vaccine vials but it will take one year for us to start production. Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and the ICMR have developed Covaxin, one of the two vaccines being used in the ongoing nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive.
"And now we received a contract to produce the vaccine at our Parel facility in Mumbai," he said.
"A proposal was submitted in January this year owing to the rising cases of coronavirus and need for more vaccines to immunise a large number of people. It is an ambitious project which is important from the angle of vaccination of such a large population, said the managing director of the Maharashtra government undertaking. There will be an internal team as well as a technical team to set up the facility for production of raw materials. Once we receive all the clearances from the Centre about safety and quality standards, we will start vaccine production, he said.
"The installed capacity of the new facility will be of 22.8 crore vials per year and we will make optimum use of it," Dr Rathod said. PTI
16:24 BJP responsible for Covid surge in Bengal: Mamata
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Friday she will call upon the Election Commission to stop the BJP from bringing "outsiders" during campaigning, squarely blaming the saffron party for exacerbating the COVID-19 situation in the state.
Banerjee, during a public meeting here in Nadia district, said the BJP brought people from "worst-hit" states like Gujarat for erecting marquees for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's poll rallies.
"I will tell the EC to stop the inflow of outsiders from states like Gujarat who are responsible for the COVID-19 spread in Bengal. "We have nothing to say if the PM or other leaders come for campaigning... Why should the BJP bring people from worst-affected states to set up podiums and pandals for rallies," she said.
The Trinamool Congress boss said local labourers and decorators can be engaged for the purpose after necessary COVID-19 tests. Referring to her injury, the chief minister said the BJP wanted to stop her from canvassing by "targeting her leg", but she has managed to come out triumphant. "They had targeted my leg, but I proved them wrong with the blessings of people. The injury has healed 75 per cent," she said. -- PTI
JP Nadda's roadshow in Burdwan today
15:51 BJP mulls stopping rallies amid Covid surge in WB
Considering the gravity of COVID-19 situation across the country, a section of senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionaries are looking at various alternatives to traditional campaigning for the remaining three phases.
The deliberations are on to find realistic alternatives to bigger rallies and rath yatras, which are considered an act of show of strength on part of political parties, a highly placed source informed."There is a huge discussion on whether we should continue rath yatras where thousands of people gather and also big rallies that need supporters to throng the grounds in huge numbers or not," stated a senior BJP leader.
While the discussion was in progress, a senior RSS functionary said both senior BJP leaders and RSS believe that the campaigning involving mass gatherings should be avoided if every political party agrees to it.
"Public meetings with a limited number of people like nukkad sabhas are the best ways to ensure that the spread of COVID-19 remains restricted," said the functionary.
Interestingly, during one such nukkad sabha on Thursday BJP Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya announced that instead of big rallies in and around Kolkata there would only be nukkad meetings. He also asked everyone to wear a mask as a responsible citizen. He also asked party workers to distribute mask to everyone present.
15:34 PM calls for increasing oxygen production
Amid a steep rise in coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday undertook a comprehensive review to ensure adequate medical grade oxygen supply in the country and called for ramping up its production.
With cases hitting a new peak in several parts of the country, the demand for medical oxygen has increased as it is a critical component in the treatment of COVID-19-affected patients.
Prime Minister Modi took a comprehensive review to ensure adequate medical grade oxygen supply in the country, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement. Inputs from ministries like health, steel, road transport, and the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) were also shared with the prime minister during the review, it said.
Prime Minister Modi stressed that it is important to ensure synergy across ministries and state governments, the PMO said.
He also took a detailed review of the current situation of oxygen supply and projected use in the coming 15 days across 12 high-burden states -- Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. The PMO said that an overview of district-level situation in these states was presented to the prime minister.
He was informed that the Centre and states are in regular contact and estimates for projected demand have been shared with states as on April 20, April 25 and April 30, it said.
The PMO said, accordingly, 4,880 MT , 5,619 MT and 6,593 MT have been allocated to these 12 states for meeting their projected demand of medical oxygen as on April 20, April 25 and April 30, respectively. The prime minister was briefed about production capacity in the country to meet the rising demand, it said.
He suggested increasing oxygen production as per capacity of each plant. It was discussed that surplus stocks of oxygen supply in steel plants are being offered for medical use, the PMO said. The prime minister also asked officials to ensure seamless and free movement of tankers carrying oxygen throughout the country.
The government has exempted all inter-state movement of oxygen tankers from registration of permits to enable easier movement, the PMO's statement said. Prime Minister Modi was informed that states and transporters have been asked to ensure tankers move round the clock with drivers working in shifts to ensure faster turnaround and adequate capacity to meet the surge in demand.
Cylinder filling plants will also be permitted to work for 24 hours with necessary safeguards, the PMO said.
15:18 Rajnath instructs DRDO to construct 2 COVID hospitals in Lucknow
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has instructed the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to construct two hospitals, with 250-300 beds each, for COVID-19 patients in Lucknow, sources said on Friday.
According to Singh's instructions, a DRDO team is reaching Lucknow on Friday, they noted. These hospitals will be constructed on two different places in the city on a mission mode, the sources stated.
Each of these two hospitals will have 250-300 beds, they said. Uttar Pradesh had on Thursday reported 104 deaths and 22,439 fresh cases, pushing the fatality count to 9,480 and the total infection number to 7,66,360. Its Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Friday ordered the establishment of a 1,000-bed makeshift COVID hospital in Lucknow to tackle the rising number of coronavirus cases. -- PTI
Jaya Bachchan with Mamata Banerjee in Bowbazar
15:11 Five Bengal poll candidates test +ve for Covid
At least five candidates of different parties contesting the ongoing assembly election in West Bengal have tested positive for COVID-19, a health department official said on Friday.
Out of the five candidates who tested positive, three are from the Trinamool Congress (TMC), and one each from the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he said. RSP's Jangipur candidate, 73-year-old Pradip Kumar Nandi, tested positive on Wednesday and is now in home isolation, the official said.
BJP'S candidate for Matigara-Naxalbari seat Anandamay Barman (38), TMC's Goalpokhar nominee Mohmmed Ghulam Rabbani, Tapan candidate Kalpana Kisku, and Jalpaiguri candidate Dr. Pradip Kumar Barma have tested COVID-19 positive, the health official said.
According to an official at the CEO, "The candidates who tested positive must immediately stop campaigning. Either they should isolate themselves at their homes or get themselves hospitalised depending on severity of the infection," he said. Congress nominee from Samsherganj assembly constituency in Murshidabad district, Rezaul Haque, who had tested positive for COVID-19, died at a hospital here early on Thursday. PTI
15:01 Jaslok defies BMC, will treat non-Covid patients too
The Mumbai civic body's plan to convert the Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai into a dedicated facility for coronavirus patients seems to have hit a roadblock with the hospital saying that it would continue to treat other critically ill non-COVID patients as well.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had on Wednesday issued a circular, in which it had said that the Jaslok Hospital will no longer admit non-COVID-19 patients and added that instructions to this effect had been issued to the hospital's management. It had taken this decision in view of the spike in infection cases in the city.
However, the hospital issued a statement late night on Thursday, saying that it has increased the number of beds for coronavirus patients, but it would continue to treat other critically-ill patients also. "Keeping in view the rising cases of COVID-19 in Maharashtra, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai has increased the number of beds allotted to the COVID-19 patients from 58 to 150 to support the current crisis. But we continue our efforts in treating other critically-ill chronic patients and (conducting) procedures," it said in the statement.
"We understand the importance of addressing the health needs of all patients, while emphasizing and sustaining our fight against COVID-19. Together, we stand by the Government in this fight against the second wave of COVID-19," the hospital said.
The civic body had earlier said that it had directed the Jaslok Hospital to discharge all stable patients, admitted in its non-COVID-19 wards, who do not require tertiary care. The hospital had also been asked to transfer the non-COVID-19 patients requiring tertiary care to nearby facilities within 48 hours, the BMC had added. PTI
14:38 EC holds all-party meeting in Kolkata
An all-party meeting called by Chief Electoral Officer,West Bengal over COVID19 norms, underway at Kolkata Circuit House. Bharatiya Janata Party delegation and the TMC delegation is at the Circuit House. Reports say the next phases may go to the polls on one day due to the surge in Covid cases.
14:01 Instant PAN allotment is a reality
Information: Courtesy, Dr Raj Chawla (CA):
1. CBDT has made instant PAN allotment in near to real time available at free of cost. Individuals (other than minors) with a valid Aadhaar number (with updated mobile number) can avail the PAN allotment facility.
2. Income Tax : For indexation of cost, effective date is date of allotment of property. Case Name : L. Vivekananda M/s. Vivek Hotels Vs ACIT (ITAT Bangalore).
3. Indirect tax collections up by 12% in FY 2020-21; GST down by 8% amid Covid-19.
GSTN: Clarification on reporting 4-digit/6-digit HSNs.
GSTN: New features of Form GSTR-2B & GSTR-3B made available to taxpayers under QRMP Scheme.
GSTN: Updates in Forms GSTR-1, GSTR-3B and Matching Offline Tool for taxpayers in QRMP Scheme.
4. MCA due date for DIN KYC is 30/09/2021, kindly get all KYC done in time, failing which there will be late fees of Rs 5000.
Security forces at Sitalkuchi, Cooch Behar
13:41 CID takes over CISF firing in Cooch Behar
West Bengal CID Friday took over the case of killing of four people in firing by the CISF during polling in Cooch Behar district on April 10, a senior government official said.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has been constituted to conduct the probe in the incident which happened during the fourth phase of polling at Sitalkuchi.
The incident had set off an acrimonious war of words between the ruling TMC and challenger BJP, and triggered public outrage. Investigators will visit booth number 126/5 in Jorpatki in Sitalkuchi assembly constituency where CISF personnel had opened fire after they allegedly came under attack from a group of villagers.
The TMC has claimed those killed were its supporters who were gunned down when they were standing in queue to cast their votes. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is also the TMC chief, had called the incident a "genocide". -- PTI
13:36 Actor Vivekh hospitalised
Popular Tamil actor Vivekh was hospitalised here on Friday, film industry sources said. The comedian, who had taken the COVID vaccine on Thursday, "fainted" and was rushed to a private hospital, the sources said without elaborating. Vivekh, a Padma Shree recipient, has acted with top Tamil heroes including Rajinikanth, Vijay and Ajith Kumar. PTI
13:26 Covid deaths: Crematoriums not working in Patna
Bihar runs short of crematoriums. The Centre meanwhile, continues to focus on the Bengal elections with Union Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah visiting Tehatta in Nadia district. Shah had earlier claimed that the Maharashtra government was lying about a shortage of Covid vaccinations.
Rajkumar, in charge of the Patna Nagar Nigam crematorium says, "Around 10-12 bodies including 6-7 COVID-19 bodies have been brought here today. Today, the number of bodies brought here is less as compared to other days. We have been working for nearly 24 hours."
District Magistrate, Patna, says, "We have written to Patna Municipal Corporation to repair and make functional all the electric crematoriums which are not working. Three ghats including one in Patna City marked for the cremation of bodies to avoid the rush at one ghat."
13:00 Harsh Vardhan to visit hospitals over next few days
Amidst the surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, the Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan will visit various healthcare facilities over the next few days to assess and further scale-up facilities.
The union minister visited the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Friday. AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria and other doctors of the hospital were present during his visit.
Briefing the mediapersons, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, "The number of cases is rising across the country. That is why we are visiting various hospitals to assess the situation and also talking to doctors and everyone for further preparations."
"You know that when we started the war against COVID last year, we had a shortage on every front. But, as we learned from the experience, the challenge can be turned into an opportunity," he added.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said more than 20 lakh COVID beds have been made all over the country. "PPE KITS, N95 masks, labs for adequate testing, testing kits and now vaccination, all these things we have prepared in a year. Doctors have prepared a strategy to fight against COVID. We are now assessing what other things we can strengthen in advance," he said.
"This is the goal of today's AIIMS visit. Doctors have given all the information, we have told them our thing. We discussed innovative solutions and new reforms that can be adopted in the fight against COVID," stated Dr Harsh Vardhan. -- ANI
12:52 Eight dead at shootout in Fedex facility in US
Eight people with injuries consistent with gunshot wounds were pronounced dead at an Indianapolis FedEx facility, police said.
Authorities said they were aware of multiple other injured victims in hospitals.
Multiple people with gunshot wounds have been brought to local hospitals after a shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, according to Officer Genae Cook, a spokesperson for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
Police believe the shooter took his own life and there is "no active threat to the community at this time," she said.
Earlier, law enforcement officials said there was a "mass casualty situation" at the FedEx facility located at 8951 Mirabel Road in Indianapolis.
Two employees inside the building at the time told CNN affiliate WISH-TV that they heard as many as ten gunshots. -- CNN
12:40 Kerala nun found dead inside convent well
A 42-year-old Catholic nun was found dead inside the well of the St Joseph convent at Kureepuzha in this south Kerala district on Friday, police said. The other inmates noticed the body of Mable Joseph, a native of Karunagappally, inside the well of the sprawling convent campus in the morning. They carried out a search after she failed to turn up for the usual morning prayers.
Police said prima facie it was a suspected case of suicide and other details could be known only after the post-mortem and investigation. A suicide note, suspected to be written by the deceased nun, was recovered from her room, they said. '
As per the note, no one was responsible for her death and she was ending her life due to health issues. Police said an investigation is already on into the incident. PTI
Union minister Harsh Vardhan visits AIIMS, Delhi
12:32 Kejriwal calls Covid meeting amid 112 deaths
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has called a meeting on Friday to review the COVID-19 situation in the national capital. Coronavirus cases in the city have been spiralling with 16,699 fresh COVID-19 infections and 112 fatalities reported on Thursday.
A senior government official said, "The chief minister has called a meeting to review the COVID-19 situation in Delhi at 4 PM today. Health Minister Satyendar Jain and senior government officials will be present at the meeting at the Delhi Secretariat."
The Delhi government had on Thursday announced sweeping restrictions, including a weekend curfew and the closure of malls, gyms, spas and auditoriums, in a bid to break the chain of COVID infections in the city.PTI
11:50 European countriedes interest in purchasing Denmark's unwanted AstraZeneca vaccines
Many European countries on Thursday expressed their interest in purchasing unwanted AstraZeneca vaccines from Denmark.Hans Kluge, the Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) for Europe said Denmark was considering sharing unused doses with poorer countries, reported euronews.
"I understand that the ministry of foreign affairs of Denmark is ready to, or looking already into options, for sharing AstraZeneca vaccines with poorer countries," Kluge told a virtual press conference.Kluge expressed his "appreciation" that Denmark was following the WHO's recommendations on the matter and sympathised with the decision to suspend AstraZeneca's vaccine.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Denmark became the first European country to abandon AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine due to a link with extremely rare cases of blood clots.A day later, Norway's Public Health Institute also recommended against further use of the jab.
However, the WHO has reiterated that the jab is "safe and effective" against COVID-19 and that the risk of thrombosis and blood clots is "much higher" if you contract the virus, reported euronews.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has maintained that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of side effects, explaining that COVID-19 is a "very serious disease".
On the other hand, other EU member states have limited AstraZeneca doses to certain age groups, reported euronews.
Danish authorities have said "it is important to emphasise that it (AstraZeneca) is still an approved vaccine" and did not rule out using it in the future amid a rise in infection rates in the country.
On Wednesday, the Czech Health Minister Jan Hamacek tweeted that his country would be interested in Denmark's remaining doses, reported euronews.
"We are looking for vaccines all over the world, we are willing to buy AstraZeneca from Denmark," Hamacek said.
11:37 PIL in SC for Covid vaccine for all adults
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Supreme Court on Friday seeking COVID-19 vaccination for all above the age of 18 years because of a sudden upsurge in coronavirus cases across the country.
The plea filed by advocate Rashmi Singh said that widespread vaccination of all young and working population is essential to arrest the deadly surge of the coronovirus in its second wave.
The petition stated that the administration of the vaccine in itself takes between six to eight weeks for both the doses and hence by the time the vaccine reaches the age group of 18 years and above, the COVID-19 virus would have spread rapidly and may give rise to a situation.
The denial of vaccines to those in the age bracket of 18-45 years is arbitrary, "discriminatory and unreasonable", said the plea, adding that such denial results in infringement of right to health and right to life.
The petition highlighted that several experts, including the Indian Medical Association (IMA), have demanded the ramping up of COVID-19 vaccination and added that certain experts advised that India needs to administer at least 10 million doses daily to tackle the situation.
The Central government at present is making the vaccine available only to those above the age of 45 years. -- ANI
11:10 Uddhav to hold meet on Covid, pre-rains prep
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to chair a meeting through video conferencing later today, to assess the COVID-19 situation in the jurisdiction of BMC and also to take an update on BMC's pre-monsoon preparations.
Maharashtra wants to vaccinate 6 to 7 lakh people against COVID-19 on a daily basis and to achieve the target, the state needs 40 to 45 lakh vaccine vials every week, health minister Rajesh Tope said on Thursday.
A large-scale vaccination drive will help to bring down the COVID-19 cases and stem its spread, he said.
Speaking to reporters, he said, Maharashtra wants to vaccinate 6 to 7 lakh persons on a daily basis, for which we need to receive 40-45 lakh vaccine vials on a weekly basis. "If we manage to vaccinate so many people on a daily basis, it would be a major step in curbing the COVID-19 spread in the state, Tope said. Maharashtra is the worst-hit state in the country when it comes to cumulative infections and deaths due to COVID-19.
The PM had also told Indians to light lamps in solidarity of Covid workers
10:39 Rahul slams govt's Covid-19 strategy
Taking a dig at the government, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said its strategy to fight the COVID-19 pandemic consisted of imposing a 'Tughlaqi lockdown, ringing bells and singing praises to the Lord.
In a tweet in Hindi, Gandhi said, "The Central government's COVID-19 strategy -- Stage 1- Impose a Tughlaqi lockdown, Stage 2- Ring bells, Stage 3- Sing praises to the Lord."
The Congress in the past also has compared some of the government's decisions to those taken by Delhi Sultanate ruler Muhammad bin Tughlaq, to allege that they were arbitrary and not well though out. The Congress has also taken swipes at the government over its 'taali-thaali' call last year in which people across India clapped, rang bells, blew conch shells and beat metal plates in solidarity with health workers fighting the novel coronavirus.
Gandhi's attack on the government came amid a steep rise in coronavirus cases in the country with a record 2,17,353new infections taking India's total tally of COVID-19 cases to1,42,91,917 on Friday.-- PTI
10:25 Former CBI director Ranjit Sinha passes away
Former Central Bureau of Investigation director Ranjit Sinha passed away in Delhi on Friday morning.
Sinha was a retired officer of the 1974 batch of the Indian Police Service and had during his lifetime held several senior posts including that of the CBI director and the Director General of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
He passed away at 4:30 am on Friday, ANI reported.
Sinha's COVID-19 report had come yesterday, he had tested positive for the disease.
10:07 India records 2.17 lakh new Covid cases
In the last 24 hours, India recorded 2,17,353 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 along with 1,185 more virus-related deaths.
There are now 15,69,743 active cases in India while a total of 1,25,47,866 patients have recovered and 1,74,308 have succumbed to the infection.
India has reported 1,42,91,917 confirmed cases to date.
A total of 11,72,23,509 doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered across the country.
10:01 India may see 2,320 Covid deaths per day: Report
With India in the grip of a second Covid-19 wave, the country may see 1,750 coronavirus related deaths per day, rising to approximately 2,320 by the first week of June, a report of the Lancet Covid-19 Commission by India Task Force members said.
The report, titled Managing Indias second Covid-19 wave: Urgent steps, highlights the key points of the second wave of pandemic. The report also recommends steps that should be taken now to help slow down the spread of infection.
The overall Case Fatality Ratio since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 has been reported to be around 1.3%. The CFR among patients who have contracted the virus since the beginning of 2021 is far less at 0.87%. Provisionally, it appears that CFR is lower in the second wave.
Yet, India is reporting 664 deaths per day across the country (seven day moving average a/o April 10th, 2021).
Additionally, disruptions to regular health services, such as routine immunisation and delivery care, could have devastating consequences for maternal and child survival.
09:40 Senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala tests positive for Covid-19
Senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala tests positive for Covid-19.
Taking to Twitter, he wrote, "I have tested +ve for #COVID19 today morning. Anyone who has come in contact with me in the last 5 days, please self isolate & take necessary precautions."
08:44 'Sputnik V deliveries to India to begin in April'
Indian Ambassador to Russia, Bala Venkatesh Varma said that the first batch of Russia's COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V will be delivered to India in April.
"What we heard from companies is that by (the end of) this month, the first shipment will take place and the production will be (launched) there in May and slowly increase," Bala Venkatesh told reporters, as quoted by Russian news agency Sputnik.
Venkatesh said that the volume of vaccine production in India will be gradually increasing and may exceed 50 million doses per month.
On Wednesday, Russian Deputy Envoy to India Roman Babushkin had said that Sputnik vaccine emergency use approval by India will open up a new dimension in the special partnership.
"As far as Sputnik vaccine approval is concerned, this is a very significant step because it will open up a new dimension in our special privileged strategic partnership. It would definitely support efforts of vaccination in India," Babushkin had said.
Russia's Sputnik V got approval from the Subject expert committee for Emergency Use Authorisation, making it the third COVID-19 vaccine to get clearance in India.
India has become the 60th country to authorise the use of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus.
07:58 2 akhadas opt out of Kumbh Mela amid Covid surge
Niranjani Akhada and Tapo Nidhi Shri Anand Akhada, two of the 13 akhadas of seers participating in the Kumbh Mela taking place in Uttarakhand's Haridwar decided to opt-out of the event citing the deteriorating Covid-19 situation in the state.
Both the Akhadas will wrap up their cantonments on April 17.
"The main Shahi Snan held on the occasion of Mesh Sankranti on April 14 is over. Many in our akhada are showing Covid-19 symptoms. So, for us the Kumbh Mela is over," Niranjani Akhada secretary Ravindra Puri said.
Rising cases of coronavirus infection in Uttarakhand has spared none with several seers testing positive.
A total of 1,701 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Haridwar Kumbh Mela area from April 10 to 14 confirming fears that one of the world's largest religious gatherings may contribute further to the rapid rise in coronavirus cases.
00:17 BMC appoints 6 coordinators for oxygen supply in Mumbai
In the wake of a surge in demand for medical oxygen, the Mumbai civic body on Thursday said it has appointed six of its officers as coordinators for maintaining seamless supply of the life-saving gas used in treatment of critical COVID-19 patients.
The civic body also said up to 2,000 more hospital beds for COVID-19 patients will be added in the next one week.
According to a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) release, civic commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal informed about the appointments at a virtual meeting with Maharashtra Tourism and Environment minister Aaditya Thackeray, Food and Drugs Commissioner Abhimanyu Kale and others.
The release said the officials will give instructions to private hospitals and nursing homes on judicious use of oxygen to present wastage. They will also coordinate with oxygen suppliers, civic ward officers and the Food and Drugs administration for seamless supply of the gas.
In the meeting, Chahal said hospitals in Mumbai are currently being supplied with 235 metric tonnes of oxygen and they have asked the state government to increase the supply in view of its growing number, according to the release.
He informed that presently Mumbai has 20,000 beds available at 150 COVID-19 hospitals, including government, BMC and private hospital-run.
The number of hospital beds will go up to 22,000, in a week, the release quoted the civic chief as telling the meeting.
Though the daily number of coronavirus cases are between 8,000 to 10,000, the next 15 days are crucial for the city, the senior bureaucrat said.
At the meeting, Thackeray said all necessary measures are being taken for the treatment of COVID-19 patients in the metropolis and a demand for 2 lakh Remedesivir injections has also placed by the state government, according to the release.
The number of beds is also being increased besides ramping up the oxygen supply, the minister, an MLA from Mumbai, said.
FDA commissioner Kale said the Maharashtra government is in touch with other states for supply of medical-grade oxygen.
He said once more stocks are received, oxygen will be provided to Mumbai on a priority basis. -- PTI