India on Friday reported yet another record surge in coronavirus infections after 1,31,968 new cases were reported in 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed. The country’s overall count of infection rose to 1,30,60,542 since March 2020. Deaths rose by 780, driving the toll in India to 1,67,642 since March last year. The active caseload stood at 9,79,608.

The health ministry said that Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan accounted for 83.29% of the new cases registered in the last day. Maharashtra recorded the highest daily new cases (56,286), followed by Chhattisgarh (10,652) and Uttar Pradesh (8,474).

Amid the surge in cases, Maharashtra Health minister Rajesh Tope said the state could be heading towards a lockdown, NDTV reported. “But I hope that we don’t have to go for one,” the minister added. “Before that if we contain the virus, we will be happy, satisfied and contented. We are hoping for the best.”

The cumulative vaccines given in the country rose to 9,43,34,262, with 36,91,511 of these administered on Thursday. As many as 180 people have died in India till March 29, after being vaccinated against coronavirus, The Hindu reported on Thursday, quoting data from the official body tracking adverse events following immunisation.

India has been witnessing a massive rise in infections in the second wave of the pandemic since February. The central government has so far deciding against imposing a nationwide lockdown to contain the latest surge but has asked states to decide on imposing local restrictions.

Several states are complaining of vaccine shortages. Earlier on Friday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately halt the export of vaccines. India gifted over 1,00,000 Covid-19 vaccines to Bangladesh on Thursday, the Hindustan Times reported.

Meanwhile, global vaccine alliance GAVI said the Serum Institute of India was legally bound to supply coronavirus vaccines to COVAX, the World Health Organization-backed vaccine sharing facility, Reuters reported.

State updates

  1. As many as 37 doctors at Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital tested positive for the coronavirus, NDTV reported. Five of them were hospitalised, while the remaining 32 doctors are in home isolation, an unidentified official from the hospital told the channel. 
  2. The Karnataka government announced it will conduct spot tests for coronavirus at crowded places, The News Minute reported. Health Minister K Sudhakar urged people of the state to cooperate with the civic authorities and get themselves tested. “I say this because I have received reports of people fighting with the personnel saying they won’t get tested,” he added. 
  3. Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha ordered a night curfew in the urban areas of eight districts, including Jammu and Srinagar, to check the spread of the soaring coronavirus cases, the Hindustan Times reported. The other districts are Udhampur, Kathua, Baramulla, Budgam, Anantnag and Kupwara.
  4. The Central Board of Secondary Education and Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations have ruled out the possibility of delaying board examinations, saying the authorities have made adequate safety arrangements for students, The News Minute reported. This came after over after one lakh students of Class 10 and Class 12 signed petitions, urging the government to either cancel board exams, scheduled to be held in May, or conduct them in online mode, amid a surge in cases.
  5. Amid the surge in Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra, trains at Mumbai’s Lokmanya Tilak Terminus were seen packed with migrant workers who said they want to return to their hometowns before another lockdown is imposed in the country, reported ANI. Similar scenes were reported from Delhi, where migrant workers are planning a temporary departure from the city till the situation gets better, reported The Indian Express. The Centre denied reports of mass movement of people. 
  6. Long queues were seen outside pharmacies in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore city as people rushed to stock up on antiviral drug Remdesivir that has been recommended in the fight against the coronavirus, NDTV reported. 

Global scenario

  1. Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 13.37 crore people and killed 29,00,922, according to the Johns Hopkins University. More than 7.60 crore people have recovered from the infection. 
  2. The success of Britain’s vaccine programme is not enough to protect it from another wave of coronavirus unconnected to rising cases in Europe, a senior World Health Organization said, reported The Guardian. Catherine Smallwood, a senior emergency officer at WHO Europe, said there were still a “significant number” of Covid-19 infections being reported daily in the UK, and that “very restrictive measures” were holding them down. 
  3. Portugal will from now on recommend the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine only for people aged over 60, the country’s health authority said on Thursday, amid concerns over possible links between the shot and very rare cases of blood clots, Reuters reported.
  4. The Serum Institute of India has fully refunded South Africa for the 5 lakh doses of the Covid-19 vaccines, which were not delivered to the country after it decided not to use the vaccine because it was not effective against a new variant of the virus, PTI reported.
  5. Pakistan will start vaccinating all its citizens after Eid next month, Minister for Planning Asad Umar said as cases touched a record-high of 5,329 cases on Thursday, reported PTI. “We will be able to vaccinate more than 1,25,000 people per day after Eid,” Umar said, adding that China was the main provider of the vaccines.
  6. New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, temporarily suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Reuters reported. Several countries have expressed concern about the safety of the vaccine due to its possible link to blood clots.