Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday warned that the government “may have to impose a lockdown like last year” if the residents of the state do not follow the new restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
This came after Maharashtra recorded its biggest single-day jump of 63,729 new infections since the beginning of the pandemic last year, taking its tally over 37.03 lakh. Delhi too registered a record-high of 19,486 new cases, pushing its count to 8,03,623.
India, meanwhile, reported 2,17,353 new cases, also the highest figure recorded so far since the outbreak was first reported in January 2020. The country now has 1,42,91,917 cases. The toll increased to 1,74,308 with 1,185 deaths, the highest since September 19.
Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 13.88 crore people and killed 29,84,237 since the pandemic broke out in December 2019, according to the Johns Hopkins University. More than 7.81 crore people have recovered from the infection.
Here are the day’s updates:
10.46 pm: The total number of coronavirus vaccine doses administered in the country approached the 12 crore-mark on Friday, with more than 26.14 lakh doses given till 8 pm, PTI reports quoting the Union Health Ministry.
10.45 pm: The Odisha government forms a state-level committee to stop hoarding and black marketing of medicines and other healthcare supplies essential for treatment and prevention of Covid-19, reports PTI.
10.44 pm: Delhi Police personnel make security checks at the Delhi-Haryana border near Gurugram as a weekend curfew has come into force in the Capital from tonight.
10.30 pm: Assam registers 573 new coronavirus cases and four deaths in 24 hours, reports ANI.
10.28 pm: Tripura government suspends classes at all schools, colleges and universities of the state until further orders from April 17, reports ANI.
10.25 pm: Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar warns that if the residents of the state do not follow the restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus, then the government “may have to impose a lockdown like last year”, reports ANI. He also appeals to doctors to give antiviral drug Remdesivir only in critical cases, and tells them they “need not do anything” to arrange it as the government is “working on that”.
10.23 pm: West Bengal registers 6,910 new coronavirus cases, taking the election-bound state’s count to 6,43,795, reports ANI. The toll rises by 26 to 10,506.
8.33 pm: Maharashtra registers 63,729 coronavirus cases in 24 hours, pushing the state’s tally to 37,03,584, reports ANI. This is the highest single-day rise in infections reported in the state since the pandemic began in January last year. The toll rises to 59,551, with 398 new deaths logged in a day.
8.29 pm: Delhi registers 19,486 new coronavirus cases – the highest since the pandemic began in January 2020 – taking its tally to 8,03,623. The toll increases to 11,793 with 141 deaths.
8.26 pm: Uttar Pradesh records 27,426 new coronavirus cases, pushing the state’s tally to 7,93,720, reports ANI. The toll rises to 9,853 after 103 deaths were registered in 24 hours.
8.01 pm: The administration in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district acquires the oxygen plant of a steel factory, reports PTI. “The plant has the capacity to produce nearly 500 oxygen cylinders per day,” an official tells the news agency. “This facility will be used if there is a rise demand for oxygen and the existing suppliers cannot fulfill it.”
7.56 pm: Rajasthan’s tally rises to 3,95,309 with record 7,359 new cases. The state’s toll is now 3072 after 31 more deaths were registered.
7.52 pm: The Karnataka government has placed an order for purchasing 70,000 doses of Remdesivir, reports ANI. Of these, 20,000 doses are being supplied today.
7.51 pm: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has called an all-party meeting tomorrow to review the coronavirus situation in the state, reports ANI.
7.41 pm: Andhra Pradesh registers 6,096 new cases and 20 deaths, pushing the state’s tally to 9,48,231. The toll rises to 7,373, reports ANI.
7.16 pm: Railway Board Chairperson Suneet Sharma says that so far, no state has asked the Railways to suspend train services, in view of the rising coronavirus cases, reports PTI. “However, whenever there are concerns, the state governments have discussed the issues with us and where there are containment zones, they are doing random tests and checks,” he adds. “The railways has all these details on the e-ticketing website and passengers are provided information on whether they have to undergo tests or carry a COVID-negative certificate on arrival.”
7.14 pm: The Odisha government suspends vaccination in the urban areas of 10 districts, which border Chhattisgarh, during the weekend shutdown until further orders, reports ANI. However, the vaccination will continue in rural areas of the districts.
7.11 pm: The Indian Army issues directions to reduce physical attendance in its offices by 50%, in view of the rising coronavirus cases, reports ANI.
7.08 pm: As many as 24 devotees who attended the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar city of Uttarakhand, test positive for the coronavirus, reports ANI.
6.58 pm: The Election Commission says campaigning for the West Bengal Assembly polls can only take place till 7 pm, ANI reports The silence period is extended from 48 hours to 72 hours in each of the last three phases of voting, ANI reports.
The Election Commission says the organisers of public meetings will have to provide masks and sanitisers to every person attending them.
“Star campaigners/political leaders/candidates/aspiring policymakers shall demonstrate by their personal example and nudge all supporters at beginning of campaigning to wear mask, use sanitisers & maintain social distance and put in place such crowd control measures as necessary,” it adds.
6.54 pm: Goa records 927 new coronavirus cases on Friday, taking its overall count since the outbreak of the pandemic last year to 65,499, PTI reports. The state’s toll rises by six to 868.
6.52 pm: Gatherings of four or more people are banned in Meghalaya’s capital Shillong in view of the rise in cases, PTI reports.
6.50 pm: The Centre is making all the necessary efforts to ramp up the production of Remdesivir, Union minister Sadananda Gowda says.
6.47 pm: Mumbai-based pharmaceutical company Haffkine Biopharma Corporation, which has been given permission to manufacture Covaxin, said it is aiming to produce over 22 crore vials of the vaccine per year, PTI reports.
However, the company adds that it would take an year before it can start the production.
6.41 pm: Karnataka reports 14,859 new coronavirus cases on Friday, taking its total count since the beginning of the pandemic in January last year to 11,24,509. The state’s toll rises by 78 to 13,190.
6.29 pm: The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations postpones board exams for classes 10 and 12. The final decision on the exams will be made in June. They were scheduled to begin from May 4.
5.35 pm: Union minister Prakash Javadekar says he has tested positive for the coronavirus, and requests all those who have been in his contact over the last few days to get themselves tested.
5.32 pm: The Puducherry University postpones all theory-based and practical examinations of colleges affiliated to the institution until further orders, reports ANI. The exams were scheduled to begin from April 19.
5.31 pm: The Ministry of Science and Technology says that as part of the Centre’s vaccine augmentation plan, capacities of Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, which produces Covaxin, as well as that of other public sector manufacturers, are being upgraded with required infrastructure and technology, reports ANI.
“Financial support is being provided as grant from GoI [the Government of India] to the tune of approximately Rs 65 Crore to Bharat Biotech’s new Bangalore facility which is being repurposed to increase the capacity of vaccine production,” it adds.
5.20 pm: The Centre says the current production capacity of the indigenous vaccine, Covaxin, will be doubled by May to June, and then will increased nearly six to seven fold by August, reports ANI. This would mean the the production of vaccines will be increased from the current one crore doses per month in April, to about six to seven crore doses per month in August, the Ministry of Science and Technology says. “It’s expected to reach nearly 10 crore doses per month by September 2021,” it adds.
5.16 pm: A new study published in the medical journal, Lancet, has found “consistent, strong evidence” that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, is predominantly transmitted through the air, reports ANI. Therefore, public health measures that fail to treat the virus as predominantly airborne leave people unprotected and allow the virus to spread, according to six experts from the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
5.08 pm: Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey tells ANI that there has been no shortage of medical oxygen in any hospital of the state so far. Pandey adds that the state government has decided to convert the Nalanda Medical College and Hospital into a dedicated Covid facility, to meet the rise in demand for hospital beds.
5.06 pm: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat, who tested positive on April 9, will be discharged from hospital today, ANI reports, quoting a team of doctors from Kingsway Hospital, Nagpur. Bhagwat will remain in home quarantine for the next five days.
5.02 pm: Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla writes to all the states and Union Territories, asking them to ensure smooth inter-city and interstate transportation of oxygen supplies, reports ANI. He also asks authorities to allow the movement of oxygen manufacturers without imposing any time limits.
4.49 pm: The health ministry says Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra are the only three states which have more than one lakh active cases. Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had reviewed the situation in Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh earlier on Friday.
“Both Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh are reporting very high number of daily new Covid-19 cases and high deaths,” the health ministry said. “Chhattisgarh has reported nearly 6.2% increase in weekly new COVID cases based on 7 day moving average. In last two weeks, the State has seen almost 131% increase in weekly new cases.”
The government added: Uttar Pradesh has reported a growth rate of 19.25% in daily new cases. 46 districts in Uttar Pradesh have crossed their reported highest cases in the last 30 days; Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi and Prayagraj are the most affected districts.”
4.47 pm: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy asks the Centre for 60 lakh vaccine doses, ANI reports.
4.27 pm: Serum Institute Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla urges United States President Joe Biden to lift the embargo on export of raw materials so that vaccine production can be ramped up.
4.23 pm: The Election Commission holds an all-party meeting in West Bengal to discuss the implementation of safety norms, ANI reports.
BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta says: “We’ve advised EC to balance the need for a robust democratic culture with safety norms. It is up to the EC to tell us what exactly political parties must do. We’ve assured them that we’ll adhere to protocols:”
4.22 pm: Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan hold a meeting to review the coronavirus situation in Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh, ANI reports.
4.13 pm: World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the number of new coronavirus cases reported per week has about doubled globally in the last two months, Reuters reports. He adds that the pace of the infection is approaching the highest rate recorded in the pandemic so far.
4.01 pm: At the meeting to review availability of oxygen, the officials tell Modi that transporters have been asked to ensure tankers move round the clock with drivers work in shifts to ensure “faster turnaround and adequate capacity”.
“Cylinder filling plants will also be permitted 24 hour working with necessary safeguards,” the Prime Minister’s Office says. “The Government is allowing Industrial cylinders to be used for medical oxygen after due purging. Similarly nitrogen and argon tankers will be automatically allowed to be converted to oxygen tankers to overcome the potential shortage of tankers.”
3.12 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds a meeting with officials on oxygen supply in the country amid the surge in coronavirus cases, PTI reports.
The officials inform Modi about the steps being taken to import medical grade oxygen and also about the production capacity in the country.
Modi suggests increasing oxygen production as per the capacity of each manufacturing plant. He also asks the officials to ensure unhindered movement of oxygen supplies across the country.
2.33 pm: On Friday morning, BS Yediyurappa had held an emergency meeting at his residence to discuss the coronavirus situation with officials, The News Minute reported. Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Commissioner Gaurav Gupta were at the meeting.
2.20 pm: Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa tests positive for the coronavirus, The New Indian Express reports. He has been moved to the Manipal hospital.
Yediyurappa had tested positive for the infection last year too. He was discharged from the Manipal Hospital on August 10 after recovering from the coronavirus.
2.18 pm: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath orders setting up a 1,000-bed makeshift coronavirus hospital in Lucknow amid the surge in coronavirus cases, PTI reports.
1.25 pm: Uttar Pradesh government announces Sunday lockdown amid the surge in cases, ANI reports. Essential services are exempted from the restrictions. A fine of Rs 1,000 will be imposed for not wearing a mask.
1.18 pm: Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal reviews preparations for the enforcement of weekend curfew in the Capital, ANI reports. Baijal directs the chief secretary to ensure that helplines are set up to provide information about the availability of beds in hospitals.
Baijal also orders the official to set up a help desk in every hospital to assist patients and attendants.
1.14 pm: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan will on Saturday hold a meeting with the health ministers of states with the most number of coronavirus cases, ANI reports. On Monday, the union health minister will hold a meeting with All India Institute of Medical Sciences hospitals across India to discuss scaling up health infrastructure.
1.10 pm: Congress MP Digvijaya Singh also tweets to say that he has contracted the infection. “I am in quarantine at my Delhi residence,” he says. “I appeal to those who came into contact with me to isolate themselves and take all necessary precautions.”
1.08 pm: Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal tests positive for the coronavirus.
1.05 pm: Lakhs of devotees are participating in the Kumbh Mela in Haridwa, despite the massive surge in coronavirus cases in the country.
12.15 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi again criticises the Narendra Modi government’s management of the coronavirus crisis.
He says the strategy of the government to fight the pandemic consists of imposing a “Tughlaqi lockdown, ringing bells and singing praises to the Lord”.
12.12 pm: Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has been appointed as nodal minister for Covid-19 management, reports PTI.
12.08 pm: The health ministry advises all central ministries to issue instructions to hospitals under their control to set up exclusive dedicated hospital wards or separate blocks within the hospitals for care of coronavirus patients amid surge in infections, reports ANI.
12.05 pm: The Centre has decided to import 50,000 metric tonnes of medical oxygen as coronavirus infections surged to a new daily record, the government says. The Ministry of External Affairs via its missions abroad has been asked to identify and explore where oxygen can be imported.
11.15 am: The Manipur government has made it mandatory for all persons entering the state to produce a negative coronavirus test report, reports PTI. The order will come into effect from April 18.
11.10 am: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to chair a meeting today via video conference to assess the coronavirus situation in the state, reports ANI.
9.55 am: India reports 2,17,353 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the highest so far, to take its tally to 1,42,91,917. The toll rises by 1,185 to 1,74,308. As many as 1,25,47,866 people have recovered from the infection so far.
9.40 am: The Gujarat High Court has pulled up the state government as cases continue to increase at an alarming rate, reports the Hindustan Times.
“The figures given by the state are not matching with the actual number of positive cases,” a division bench led by Chief Justice Vikram Nath said on Thursday. “We told you to get ready with more Covid-designated hospitals; sufficient beds should be available; testing should be increased; make sure people wear masks; and [maintain] strict vigilance at public places.”
9.33 am: Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala tests positive for the coronavirus. “Anyone who has come in contact with me in the last 5 days, please self isolate and take necessary precautions,” he tweets.
9.30 am: The Centre asks Madhya Pradesh government to effectively implement a five-fold strategy of “test, track, treat, follow Covid-appropriate behaviour and vaccinate” to rein in the pandemic, reports PTI. The health ministry has directed the government restrict non-essential movement of large groups of people and gathering that have the potential to become super-spreader events.
9.25 am: Over 300 Delhi Police personnel have tested positive for the coronavirus in the last few days, according to ANI. Fifteen of them are admitted to hospitals, while others are in home quarantine.
9.22 am: Indian Ambassador to Russia, Bala Venkatesh Varma, says that the first batch of Sputnik V vaccine will be delivered in April, reports ANI.
Russia’s Sputnik V is the third vaccine to receive emergency-use authorisation in India, after Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
9.20 am: China’s economy has expanded at record pace in the first quarter with 18.3% growth, rebounding from the slump caused by the coronavirus outbreak, reports AFP.
9.15 am: With the surge in coronavirus cases, the Centre has said officers of the level of Under Secretary and below are allowed to work from home and their physical attendance in office should be restricted to 50% of the overall strength.
“All officers who attend office can stagger timings with entry into office spread between 9 am and 10 am with corresponding office exit timings and those living in containment zones be exempted from attending office,” a statement says.
9.10 am: Delhi recorded 17,282 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday. This is the highest single-day surge since the onset of the pandemic in January 2020. With this, Delhi has become the worst-affected city in India, leaving financial capital Mumbai far behind in the daily tally.
The national Capital now has 7,67,438 total cases.
“It is an absolute rampage in the city, young and old, vaccinated or not vaccinated, the virus is just hitting everyone,” Suranjit Chatterjee, a senior consultant at Apollo Hospitals told PTI. “Delhi’s situation is grim.”
A look at developments from Thursday:
- India reported over 2 lakh new coronavirus cases – a record high since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. This is the fifth straight day when India has recorded over 1.5 lakh new cases and the ninth consecutive day of over 1 lakh cases. The country now has 1,40,74,564 cases. The toll jumped by 1,038 to 1,73,123.
- The head of the Maha Nirvani Akhara from Madhya Pradesh, who had tested positive for the coronavirus, died at a hospital in Uttarakhand’s Dehradun city. Kapil Dev had come to Uttarakhand to attend the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar.
- West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged the Election Commission to club the four remaining phases of the Assembly elections into one amid the surge in coronavirus cases in the country.
- The Centre postponed the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (post graduate) or NEET-PG medical exam amid the surge in coronavirus cases in the country. The exam was scheduled for April 18 and nearly 1.7 lakh medical aspirants were going to appear for it.
- A group of over 170 world leaders and Nobel Prize winners have urged United States President Joe Biden to support a waiver proposing to suspend rules of intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments to boost global vaccination rates. India and South Africa had moved this proposal at the World Trade Organization in October.