India on Friday reported 16,838 new coronavirus cases, pushing the country’s tally to 1,11,73,761, data from the health ministry showed. The toll jumped by 113 to 1,57,548.

The number of active cases stood at 1,76,319, constituting 1.58% of the total infections. The recoveries reached 1,08,39,894.

The Centre said that Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh were showing a steep rise in daily infections. Six states – Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujarat, Punjab, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu – accounted for 84% of the new cases.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

The government said that Maharashtra, Punjab, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh accounted for 89% of the deaths reported in the last day.

The health ministry’s data showed that 18 states and Union territories did not report any death in the last day. These included Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chandigarh, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Puducherry, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

As many as 1,80,05,503 beneficiaries have been vaccinated so far. Of these, 13,88,170 received the shots on Thursday, which was the highest so far.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday urged people to take the indigenous Covaxin, produced by Bharat Biotech, without any hesitation now that its results from the third phase of clinical trials were available, PTI reported. Kerala has been witnessing a surge of cases lately.

“There was some reluctance among the public to take the vaccine as part of the delay in getting the results of its third phase trials,” the chief minister said at a press meet. “The Indian Council of Medical Research has now released the interim results of the third phase clinical trials. According to it, the vaccine has shown an interim efficacy of 81% in preventing Covid-19.”

Vijayan added that it had also been reported that the vaccine can prevent the viral infection with very severe symptoms. “As per ICMR, Covaxin also has the ability to neutralize the UK variant strain of SARS-CoV-2 [coronavirus],” he said. “Therefore, based on these evidence, people should be ready to accept Covaxin along with Covishield vaccine.” Covishield is the local name of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India.

Meanwhile, the Press Association urged the Centre to include accredited journalists in priority groups for vaccination, given that the media played a vital role in fighting the pandemic, PTI reported.

“Like health professionals, security persons and many others, a number of journalists have also lost their lives on the line of duty,” the press body said. “Like all other essential services, media houses also remained open during the whole calamity.”

Global updates

  1. Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 11.55 crore people and killed over 25.69 lakh, according to John Hopkins University. Over 6.53 crore people have recovered from the infection in the world.
  2. Israel, Denmark and Austria announced that they will jointly invest in the research and roll-out of vaccines to protect their citizens against new surges and mutations of the coronavirus, PTI reported. The leaders of the three countries said their alliance will set up vaccine distribution plants in Europe and Israel, based on the latter’s world-leading inoculation drive. Details about the costs and the time frame for opening the projects were still being worked out. 
  3. A World Health Organization team investigating the origins of Covid-19 is planning to scrap an interim report on its recent mission to China amid mounting tensions between Beijing and Washington over the investigation, the Wall Street Journal reported. A group of two dozen scientists from around the world have also called for a new probe. They said in an open letter that the WHO team had insufficient access in China to adequately investigate possible sources of the new coronavirus, including whether it slipped from a laboratory. 
  4. The Japanese government plans to extend a state of emergency to combat the spread of coronavirus in Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures until March 21, two weeks longer than originally scheduled, Reuters reported, quoting Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura. Under the state of emergency, the government has requested restaurants and bars close by 8 pm and stop serving alcohol an hour earlier. People are also asked to stay home after 8 pm unless they have essential reasons to go out.
  5. Australia requested the European Commission to review Italy’s decision to block a shipment of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, Reuters reported. However, Australia said that the missing doses will not affect its vaccination drive.