India on Thursday reported 17,407 new coronavirus cases, pushing the country’s tally to 1,11,56,923, Union health ministry data showed. The toll jumped by 89 to 1,57,435.

The Centre said that Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka continued to witness a surge in coronavirus cases. The six states accounted for 85.51% of the new cases.

India’s count of active cases stood at 1,73,413, while the number of recoveries reached 1,08,26,075. The active case rate was 1.53%, while the recovery rate stood at 97.06%. The fatality rate was at 1.41%.

So far, 1,66,16,048 beneficiaries have been inoculated, with 9,94,452 receiving the shots on Wednesday alone.

Source: Ministry of Health and Family Affairs

Maharashtra on Wednesday reported 9,855 new coronavirus cases, pushing the overall case count in the state to 21,79,185. This was the highest single-day jump since October 18, when the state reported 10,259 cases.

Maharashtra reported 42 deaths – the maximum among the states in the last day. Kerala recorded 15 deaths, while Punjab reported 12. These three states, along with with Delhi, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, accounted for 89% of the daily deaths in the country.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the state government will issue the standard operating procedure for coronavirus care centres by the end of the month to curb crimes against women there, PTI reported. Pawar’s announcement came after the Opposition piled pressure on the government over an incident where a doctor allegedly tried to molest a patient at a coronavirus facility in Aurangabad.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, 21,91,78,908 samples have been tested till Wednesday. Of this, 7,75,631 samples were tested on Wednesday alone.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech’s coronavirus vaccine Covaxin has shown 81% efficacy in the third phase of trials, the Union health ministry said on Wednesday. The company said that the trials involved 25,800 subjects and claimed that it was the largest ever trial conducted in India.

On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court issued a notice to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on a matter related to declaring people associated with judicial functions such as judges, court staff and lawyers, as frontline workers, reported The Hindu.

Meanwhile, India delivered its first shipment of 5 lakh coronavirus vaccine doses to Canada on Wednesday in Toronto, reported the Hindustan Times. The consignment of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Covishield, was sent by the Serum Institute of India.

Information Technology company Infosys and consulting and outsourcing services provider Accenture said that they will cover the coronavirus vaccination costs for their employees in India, reported Reuters. The companies said that they would cover the costs of vaccinations for their employees and their immediate families.

United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund data showed that around 1.5 million, or 15 lakh, schools remained shut in India because of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown, affecting 247 million, or 24.7 crore, elementary and secondary school children, reported The Indian Express.

In a statement, UNICEF, a United Nations body, also raised concerns about the possibility of a higher dropout rate in schools after they reopen. “Online education is not an option for all as only one in four children has access to digital devices and Internet connectivity,” it added. “Pre-Covid-19, only a quarter of households [24%] in India had access to the Internet and there is a large rural-urban and gender divide.”

Global updates

  1. Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 11.51 crore people and killed over 25.58 lakh, according to John Hopkins University. Over 6.51 crore people have recovered from the infection in the world.
  2. A Canadian panel of vaccine experts has recommended that provinces in the country extend the interval between the two Covid-19 vaccine shots to four months in order to quickly inoculate more people amid a shortage of doses, reported AP. A number of provinces have agreed to do it.
  3. Brazil registered a record Covid-19 deaths for the second straight day on Wednesday, reporting 1,910 fatalities, reported AFP. The country has so far registered 2,59,271 deaths.
  4. Germany planned to extend the lockdown by three more weeks but Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of the 16 states in the country have agreed to ease restrictions to allow non-essential services to reopen in places that have relatively low infection rates, reported AP.     
  5. United States President Joe Biden said that the decision to remove mask-wearing mandates in Texas and Mississippi states was a “big mistake”, reported AFP. “The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine – take off your mask, forget it,” he said. “It still matters.”