10.36 pm: West Bengal reports 3,856 new cases and 54 deaths today on Thursday. The state’s tally rises to 4,20,840 and the toll reaches 7,506.

10.35 pm: Photos show huge crowds at markets in Delhi, ahead of Diwali.

10.33 pm: Delhi’s reports over 7,000 cases and 104 deaths on Thursday. The Capital’s tally rises to 4,67,028 and the toll reaches 7,332.

10.32 pm: Andaman and Nicobar Islands registers 13 new cases on Thursday, ANI reports. The Union territory’s tally rises to 4,507. Its toll is at 61.

9.08 pm: Congress leader Sachin Pilot says he has tested positive for Covid-19. “Anyone who may have come in contact with me over the last few day, please get yourselves tested,” Pilot tweets. “Am taking appropriate doctoral advice. Hope to recover soon.”

9.05 pm: Manipur records 254 new cases in 24 hours, taking the case count to 21,211. The toll stands at 207, reports ANI.

9.03 pm: Maharashtra registers 4,496 new cases, taking the tally to 17,36,329, reports ANI. The toll rises by 122 to 45,682.

9.01 pm: Mumbai records 858 new cases, 2,175 recovered cases, and 19 deaths today, according to ANI. The total cases in the city stands at 2,67,604, including 2,41,975 discharges, 11,531 active cases, and 10,522 deaths.

6.09 pm: World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says people are getting weary of the coronavirus pandemic but cautions them to remain vigilant and continue to take precautions while the world awaits a vaccine, reports Reuters.

6.05 pm: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation adds another $70 million, or over Rs 520 crore, of funding to global efforts to develop and distribute vaccines and treatments against the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Reuters.

6.01 pm: Chandigarh administration allows Chhath celebration subject to strict observation of Covid-19 protocol, reports ANI. Advisor Manoj Parida says organisers will be responsible to maintain Covid-19 protocol during the celebration.

5.57 pm: Himachal Pradesh reports 170 new Covid-19 cases, pushing the tally in the state to 27,588, according to ANI. The toll stands at 403. There are 5,586 active cases in the state and 21,571 have recovered from the infection.

5.55 pm: The active coronavirus tally in Bihar rises to 6,915 after the state reports 523 new infections, reports ANI.

5.48 pm: The Telangana Junior Doctors Association at Gandhi Medical College and Hospital, Secunderabad, calls for strike and boycotts duties, reports ANI. The association is demanding the resumption of non-Covid services at the hospital.

5.45 pm: Tripura reports 59 new Covid-19 cases, pushing the tally in the state to 31,765, reports PTI. The overall tally includes 1,201 active cases, 30,185 recoveries and 356 deaths.

3.08 pm: A recap of the the Atmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana for job creation:

  1. Every organisation registered with the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation that recruits new employees – who were not covered under EPFO, or those who lost their jobs between March 1 and September 30 this year – will receive benefits under the aegis of the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana.
  2. The scheme will be effective from October 1, 2020 and will be active till June 30, 2021.
  3. Establishments with less than 50 employees must recruit at least two new employees, and organisations with more than 50 employees must employ at least five new employees. The month of September will be considered as the base for the scheme.
  4. For organisations with up to 1,000 employees, who earn up to Rs 15,000 per month and are registered under EPFO, the 12% contribution of the employees and 12% from the employer –amounting to a total 24 per cent – will be borne entirely by the central government.

3.03 pm: Sitharaman says the total stimulus equals to 15% of GDP.

2.58 pm: Nirmala Sitharaman says the size of the stimulus being provided by the government, as part of the 12 announcements made today under Aatmanirbhar Bharat 3.0, amounts to Rs 2.65 lakh crore. “This includes Rs 12,71,200 crore announced by RBI over the months,” she adds.

2.53 pm: A recap of the incentives announced by the government in the real estate sector:

  1. For residential units worth up to Rs 2 crore, differential allowed between agreement value and circle rate has been increased from 10% to 20% .
  2. For the construction and infrastructure sector, the government says it will relax the Earnest Money Deposit, or EMD, and reduce the performance security on government tenders to 3% from the existing 5%.
  3. Earnest Money Deposit will not be required for tenders and will be replaced by Bid Security Declaration.
  4. Additional outlay of Rs 18,000 crore for the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana. This will help ground 12 lakh houses and complete 18 lakh houses, according to the government.
  5. Relaxations will be given till 31st December, 2021.

2.45 pm: The government will provide Rs 900 crore to the Department of Biotechnology for research and development of the coronavirus vaccine. “This money goes to the department of biotechnology , and not [the department of] health, for research purposes,” Sitharaman says. “This money is provided not for the coronavirus vaccine, but for the research of the vaccine. The actual cost of the vaccine and the logistics required for its distribution will be separate.”

Credit: PIB

2.41 pm: Sitharaman announces an additional budget of Rs 10,200 to promote industries and create industrial infrastructure under the Centre’s “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” scheme. “This is to make capital and industrial stimulus a priority,” she says.

2.38 pm: For the strengthening of trade and boosting exports, the government says it will release Rs 3,000 crore from Exim Bank for the promotion of project exports through Line of Credit under the IDEAs scheme.

2.32 pm: To boost rural employment, the government announces an additional outlay of Rs 10,000 crore for the PM Garib Kalyan Rozgar Yojana in FY21. The Centre had launched the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan initiative on June 20 to tackle the impact of Covid-19 on migrants workers in India with an initial funding of Rs 50,000 crore.

2.29 pm: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announces that the government will provide Rs 65,000 crore for subsidized fertilisers to farmers in a bid to boost agriculture. The move, she claims, is going to benefit 14 million farmers.

2.26 pm: Rs 6,000 crore of equity to be provided to the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund debt platform for funding infrastructure, the finance ministry says. By 2025, they will have to fund projects worth Rs 1,10,000 crore.

2.20 pm: In the residential real estate sector, the finance ministry announces Income Tax relief for home buyers. For residential units worth up to Rs 2 crore, differential allowed between agreement value and circle rate has been increased from 10% to 20% till June 30, 2021.

2.16 pm: For the construction and infrastructure sector, the government says it will relax the Earnest Money Deposit, or EMD. It would also reduce the performance security on government tenders to 3% from the existing 5% to 10% till December 31, 2021.

2.10 pm: For the real estate sector, the finance ministry announces additional outlay of Rs 18,000 crore for the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana. This will help ground 12 lakh houses and complete 18 lakh houses.

Additionally, Nirmala Sitharaman says the scheme will create additional 78 lakh jobs and improve production and sale of steel and cement, resulting in multiplier effect on economy.

2.06 pm: The 10 “champion sectors” for which the government is launching production linked incentive scheme.

Credit: PIB

2.02 pm: Sitharaman says the production linked incentive will give a big boost to the Indian economy, investment, exports and job creation.

2 pm: Production linked incentive worth Rs 1.46 lakh crore will be offered to 10 champion sectors, to help boost competitiveness of domestic manufacturing, says Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. This is the third component under the new stimulus package.

Credit: PIB

1.57 pm: Sitharaman adds that they are launching credit guarantee support scheme for healthcare sector. Entities will get additional credit up to 20% of outstanding credit, repayment can be done in five years’ time (1 year moratorium + 4 years repayment).

1.55 pm: Nirmala Sitharaman says guaranteed credit support for 26 stressed sectors has been identified by the Kamath Committee.

1.52 pm: The finance ministry also announces that the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme or ECLGS is extended till March 31, 2021. This is collateral-free, fully guaranteed loan.

Credit: PIB

1.50 pm: The Centre says the government will bear the 24% EPF contribution if the number of employees are less than 1,000. In case of employees over 1,000, 12% employee contribution will be borne by the government for the next two years.

Credit: PIB

1.42 pm: As per the finance ministry presentation, the benefit will apply to all those “new employees” earning monthly wages less than Rs 15,000. Establishments registered under the EPFO have to add at least two more employees for firms with less than 50 employees and minimum five employees for firms with over 50 employees. This hiring can happen between October 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, and will be valid for two years, says the finance minister.

1.40 pm: Under the job creation scheme, EPFO registered establishments – if they take in new employees or those who lost jobs earlier – these employees will get some benefits, says Nirmala Sitharaman. This is effective from October 1.

Credit: PIB

1.37 pm: The finance minister says 12 new measures to be announced under the new stimulus package. She calls this “Atmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana”, meant to incentivise employers to hire and give boost to employment amid the coronavirus crisis.

1.35 pm: The finance minister, however, says Rs 1.32 lakh crore has been given to nearly 39.7 lakh taxpayers as Income Tax refunds without any delay.

1.30 pm: On the progress of the second tranche of stimulus package, Sitharaman says:

  • 11 states have been sanctioned interest-free loan worth Rs 3,621 crore towards capital expenditure. (This amount is exclusive of what Bihar proposes to do).
  • Rs 25,000 crore additional cap expenditure to Ministries of Road Transport and Defence.
  • SBI Utsav cards being distributed, under the festival advance scheme announced on October 12.

1.27 pm: Other points mentioned by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on the progress on first trench of stimulus package:

  • Rs 7,227 crore has been disbursed to housing finance companies and non-banking finance companies under a special liquidity scheme.
  • Total loans of Rs 1,18,273 crore have been sanctioned to 17 States and Union Territories as part of the liquidity injection scheme for power discoms.

1.25 pm: Sitharaman, while explaining progress of schemes under the Atma Nirbhar Package, says Rs 25,000 crore has been distributed to help farmers prepare for Rabi sowing, this is over and above the budget allocation.

1.22 pm: Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur says that India has made a strong comeback economically. “Markets are on a record-high and India’s foreign exchange reserves are at $560 billion,” he says.

1.20 pm: Rs 25,000 crore additional emergency working capital funding has been disbursed for farmers through National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, says the finance minister.

1.18 pm: Sitharaman says credit boost has been given to 2.5 crore farmers through Kisan Credit Cards, and Rs 1.4 lakh crore has been distributed to farmers.

Credit: PIB

1.15 pm: The finance minister now shares the progress on first trench of stimulus package. She says there are 68.6 crore beneficiaries of One Nation-One Ration card in 28 states. Under Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor’s Atma Nirbhar Nidhi, around 14 lakh loans have been sanctioned, she adds.

1.12 pm: “Moody’s has revised India’s GDP growth from -9.6% to -8.9%,” says Sitharaman. She adds that Reserve Bank of India predicts a strong likelihood of return to positive growth in Q3 of 2020-’21.

1.10 pm: Sitharaman says quite a few measures and indicators show that Indian economy is recovering. “It is just not pent-up demand but also a strong pitch for recovery,” she says.

1.08 pm: The finance minister also says that GST collections are up 10%, stock markets are at record high and FDI inflows in April to August are up 13% year-on-year.

Credit: PIB

1.06 pm: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says “strong recovery” is emerging now, adding that there has been strongest increase in output in close to nine years.

1.05 pm: “A strong coronavirus recovery scene is emerging, active cases have declined from 10 lakh to 4.89 lakh, fatality rate has come down to 1.47%,” says the finance minister.

1.02 pm: Sitharaman says the new announcements are part of the stimulus package and notes the declining coronavirus cases in India.

1 pm: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman begins her address.

12.45 pm: The Delhi High Court again pulls up the Arvind Kejriwal government and expresses concern over rise in coronavirus cases, reports PTI.

A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad questioned the AAP government’s “doing everything under the sun to unlock things” when cases are rising steadily. The judges said the Delhi government has to be “much more alive to the current situation”.

12.44 pm: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will begin her press conference shortly.


12.08 pm: Tamil Nadu reverses move to reopen schools from November 16 for classes 9-12, reports PTI. The government adds colleges and universities, also scheduled to start from 16, will resume from December 2 only for research scholars and final year postgraduate students of science and technology streams.

10.47 am: Union minister Smriti Irani says she has tested negative for the coronavirus. The BJP leader had contracted the infection on October 28.

10.38 am: Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Uttarakhand Surendra Singh Jeena, who was undergoing treatment for coronavirus at a hospital in New Delhi, died on Thursday, state BJP vice president Devendra Bhasin said, PTI reports.

10.36 am: Arunachal Pradesh’s coronavirus tally rises to 15,657 on Thursday as 76 more people, including five security personnel, tested positive for the infection, PTI reports. “Four Indian Reserve Battalion personnel and an Army jawan are among the new patients,” State Surveillance Officer Dr Lobsang Jampa says. The Indian Reserve Battalion personnel had returned from Bihar after completing their election duties, he adds.

10.33 am: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Italy on Wednesday passed the 10-lakh mark, while the toll from the disease neared 43,000 people, AFP reports. The country was the first in Europe to be hit by the outbreak earlier this year, sparking an unprecedented national lockdown that curbed infection rates but devastated the economy.

10.26 am: The all too familiar noun lockdown has been named the word of the year by Collins Dictionary. Lockdown is defined by Collins as “the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces”.

Other pandemic-related words such as coronavirus, social distancing, self-isolate and furlough were on the dictionary’s list of the top 10 words. So was the term key worker. According to Collins, key worker saw a 60-fold increase in usage over the last year, which reflects “the importance attributed this year to professions considered to be essential to society”.

Source: Collinsdictionary.com

10.20 am: Brazil health regulator Anvisa on Wednesday allowed resumption of late-stage clinical trials for China’s Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine, which it had suspended citing a “severe adverse incident” – reported to be the death of a volunteer, BBC reports.

The head of the institute conducting the trial said the death had no connection to the vaccine. In a statement on Wednesday, Anvisa said it now had “sufficient information to allow vaccination to resume”.

10.17 am: One in four of the 15,000 people tested in the latest serological survey in the Capital showed prevalence of antibodies against the coronavirus, the Aam Aadmi Party-led government informed the Delhi High Court on Wednesday, the Hindustan Times reports. The value indicates that the proportion of people with antibodies has remained largely unchanged from the previous round of the exercise held in September.

9.57 am: India records 47,905 new coronavirus cases, pushing the tally in the country to 86,83,916, according to the health ministry’s data. The toll rises by 550 to 1,28,121 in 24 hours. There are now 4,89,294 active cases and 80,66,501 recoveries.

8.50 am: Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 5.20 crore people and killed 12,82,184 people, according to the John Hopkins University data. The recoveries stand at 3,34,90,724.

8.40 am: According to The Washington Post, in one week, new daily coronavirus cases in the United States has gone up from 1,04,000 to more than 1,45,000 on Wednesday, the latest all-time high.

8.35 am: Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says cold storage requirements of Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines could hamper distribution, reports Reuters.

“It does have cold-chain challenges as it were,” Fauci said at the Financial Times’ global pharmaceutical and biotechnology conference. “In a country like the UK and the United States we can address them and it still would be challenging. But, probably much more challenging in countries in the developing world.”

8.30 am: The United Kingdom becomes the fifth country in the world to record more than 50,000 coronavirus-related deaths, reports AP. As many as 595 more people in the country died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus, the highest daily number since May. With this, the UK’s total toll in the pandemic rises to 50,365.

8.25 am: Here are the top updates from Wednesday:

  • India recorded 44,281 new coronavirus cases, pushing the tally in the country to 86,36,011, according to the health ministry’s data. The toll rose by 512 to 1,27,571 in 24 hours. There are now 4,94,657 active cases and 80,13,783 recoveries.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and praised the global body for its role in facilitating a coordinated global response to the coronavirus crisis.
  • All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director Randeep Guleria said that it would be a challenge for countries such as India to store and supply American pharmaceutical firm Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, which needs to kept at minus 70 degree Celsius.
  • The Supreme Court dismissed a plea seeking to quash a Calcutta High Court order banning firecrackers in the state. In its order, the top court observed that preserving life was more important than festivals.
  • The Delhi High Court pulled up the Aam Aadmi Party government for relaxing the norms of public gathering and movement in the Capital even when there is a surge in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks.
  • Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the Union government should work out the logistics and distribution strategy for making the coronavirus vaccine developed by drug manufacturer Pfizer available to all Indians.