9.17 pm: Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha tests positive for coronavirus, reports PTI.

9.16 pm: Jammu and Kashmir’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh hospitals shuts down its out-patient department services in the wake of the a surge in Covid-19 cases in the Union Territory, reports PTI. The hospital said the decision was taken “in order to cater to the rush of COVID-19 patients/suspected cases”.

9.15 pm: Punjab records 4,498 new coronavirus cases and 64 deaths in 24 hours, reports ANI. With this, the state’s tally rises to 2,95,138, while the toll climbs to 7,834.

9.15 pm: Haryana records 7,717 new coronavirus cases, taking the state’s tally of infections to 3,49,794.

9.13 pm: The Assam Health Department says it will provide Remdesivir, an antiviral drug used to treat severe cases of Covid-19, free of cost to below the poverty line patients, reports PTI.

9.11 pm: Jammu and Kashmir registers 1,145 new coronavirus cases, taking the Union Territory’s tally to 1,45,166, reports ANI.

8.45 pm: Tamil Nadu records 9,344 new coronavirus cases, while Uttarakhand has 2,757 new cases, reports ANI. Of the cases in Uttarakhand, 1,179 have been in Dehradun and 617 in Haridwar.

8.40 pm: Union minister Kiren Rijiju tests positive for Covid-19.

8.15 pm: Karnataka also reports a record high in daily cases, with 17,489 new cases today, says PTI. Of these, Bengaluru Urban accounts for 11,404 new cases.

8.09 pm: Maharashtra reports 67,123 new Covid cases in the last 24 hours, with 8,834 in Mumbai.

6.50 pm: Former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who tested positive for the coronavirus, could not secure a bed at the Manipal Hospital in Bengaluru, the state’s High Court was informed, reports Bar and Bench. When privileged people cannot get beds, one can only imagine the plight of poorer sections of the society,” advocate Clifton D Rozario, who made the submission to the court, says.

6.37 pm: Avdheshanand Giri of Juna Akhara announces an early end to the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the religious gathering should now be held as a “symbolic event” due to the coronavirus situation.

“Our first priority is the protection of people of India [against Covid-19],” Giri writes on Twitter. “In view of the coronavirus pandemic, we have performed the visarjan of all Gods. This is the end of Kumbh from June Akhara.”

Earlier in the day, Giri had requested devotees to not come for snan (bath) in large numbers, in the wake of Covid situation, and follow all rules.

6.21 pm: Madhya Pradesh instructs all devotees returning from the Kumbh Mela to quarantine themselves, reports ANI. They will also have to inform their district collector of their return.

6.10 pm: The central government has cut the retail price of remdesivir, the drug being used to treat severe cases of the coronavirus.

5.50 pm: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani says devotees returning from the Kumbh Mela will have to undergo an RT-PCR coronavirus test before they are allowed to return to their homes, reports The New Indian Express.

5.47 pm: The prime minister will at 8 pm hold a Covid-19 review meeting with top officials from across ministries, reports ANI.

5.27 pm: Kejriwal says his government is monitoring the situation closely. “We will keep a close eye...If the situation deteriorates, we will take whatever step is needed to save your lives,” he adds.

5.24 pm: The Delhi chief minister adds that his government hopes to add 6,000 beds in two or three days. “The central government gave 4,100 beds in November, but this time only 1,800 beds have been given,” Kejriwal says. “I requested [Union Health Minister] Dr Harsh Vardhan to reserve 50% beds for Covid patients.”

5.23 pm: “Delhi has a limited number of intensive care unit beds,” Kejriwal says. “Oxygen and ICU beds are decreasing very sharply. We are taking several steps to scale up beds capacity.”

5.10 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says the Capital registered 24,000 new cases in the last 24 hours. “The positivity rate is over 24%,” he adds. “The situation is grim. We are facing a shortage of ICU beds, oxygen and Remdesivir.”

3.43 pm: Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, who is being treated for Covid-19, remains under medical observation, reports ANI. “All his vital parameters are being monitored as per protocol and he is receiving appropriate treatment. He is stable and cheerful.”

3.41 pm: Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava says they are strictly enforcing the weekend curfew in the Capital, reports The Indian Express. “People who are out of their house unnecessarily are being prosecuted and cases are being registered against them,” he adds. “I appeal to people to respect weekend curfew and stay at home and not face any trouble.”

3.39 pm: The Indian Railways will impose a penalty of upto Rs 500 for not wearing masks on its premises, reports The Times of India.

3.37 pm: Amid a surge in Covid-19 cases, Gurugram’s health department has ramped up its focus on testing, reports The Indian Express.

3.36 pm: Residents line up outside Jai Prakash District Hospital in Madhya Pradesh to get tested, reports ANI.

3.35 pm: “We have to remember that no vaccine is 100% efficient,” adds the AIIMS director. “You may get the infection but the antibodies in our body will not allow the virus to multiply and you will not have the severe disease.”

3.32 pm: Guleria adds that India’s healthcare system has seen a “huge strain”. “We have to keep increasing our hospital beds/resources for the increasing number of cases,” he adds, according to ANI. “We also have to urgently bring down the number of Covid-19 cases.”

3.30 pm: AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria says the cause for the surge in Covid-19 cases has many factors. “But two main causes are – when in January or February vaccination started and cases went down people stopped following Covid appropriate behaviour and at this time the virus mutated and it spread more rapidly,” he tells ANI.

2.40 pm: The governor of Bihar has called a virtual all-party meeting to discuss the deteriorating healthcare situation as the number of Covid cases rises rapidly in the state, reports The Hindu.

2.39 pm: Actor Sonu Sood says he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

2.32 pm: More than 5,000 people have tested positive for Covid at the Kumbh Mela, reports Mirror Now.

2.30 pm: Mumbai’s Mayor Kishori Pednekar suggests that all devotees returning from the Kumbh Mela be quarantined, reports Times Now.

2.25 pm: The global toll from the coronavirus has passed 3 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. Indian is fourth in the number of deaths, behind the US, Brazil and Mexico.

1.41 pm: Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik claims the Centre has asked export companies not to supply anti-viral drug remdesivir to the state. “These companies were warned, if they did, their licence will be cancelled,” he says. “This is a dangerous precedent and under these circumstances, [the] Maharashtra government will have no choice but to seize the stock of Remdesivir from these exporters and supply it to the needy.”

11.22 am: Maharashtra government decides to relax fortnightly RT-PCR tests it had mandated for household helps, hotel and restaurant staffers, industrial workers and e-commerce delivery persons, The Times of India reports. The decision has been taken to ease the strain on laboratories.

11.16 am: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik writes to PM Modi requesting to make vaccines available in the open market outside government supply chain, reports ANI.

11.14 am: Union home ministry deputes 25 doctors and 75 paramedics from Central Armed Police Forces at Defence Research and Development Organisation’s 900-bed Covid-19 hospital in Ahmedabad, reports ANI.

11.12 am: Photos of police picketing on the first day of weekend lockdown in Delhi, announced earlier this week:

11.10 am: Former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy tweets saying he has tested positive for coronavirus.

11.08 am: Fashion designer Manish Malhotra tests positive for coronavirus, reports NDTV.

11.06 am: Multiple Union ministries, including the home ministry, issue orders restricting attendance in their respective departments, reports The Indian Express.

11.03 am: Chhattisgarh Health Minister TS Singh Deo says the state government is making efforts to add more Intensive Care Unit beds and oxygen-equipped beds, reports PTI.

10.56 am: The Railways has formulated a policy for the transportation of liquid medical oxygen in cryogenic tankers, following Maharashtra’s request on the matter, reports PTI. The cryogenic tankers will be transported as a paid for roll-on-roll service to various destinations across states.

10.52 am: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will hold a meeting at 1 pm on Saturday to review the coronavirus situation in the national Capital, his office says in a tweet.

9.44 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi urges to keep Kumbh Mela a “symbolic event” after speaking to Avdheshanand Giri of Juna Akhada.

Also read

‘Kumbh should now be symbolic,’ says PM Modi after akhara head dies of Covid-19

9.41 am: India reports 2,34,692 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, taking the tally up to 1,45,26,609, government data showed. The toll rose to 1,75,649, with 1,341 more deaths

9.30 am: Top updates from Friday

  1. India on Friday reported 2,17,353 new coronavirus cases, taking its tally to 1,42,91,917. The country is hit by a massive second wave of infections and this is the highest figure recorded so far since the pandemic began in January 2020. The country’s toll rose to 1,74,308 with 1,185 deaths, the highest since September 19.
  2. The Centre said it will double the production capacity of indigenously developed Covaxin vaccine by May or June, and then will increase it nearly six to seven fold by August. 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 said. “It’s expected to reach nearly 10 crore doses per month by September 2021,” it added.
  3. World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of new Covid-19 cases per week has nearly doubled globally over the past two months, approaching the highest rate seen so far during the pandemic, reported Reuters.
  4. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the availability of medical oxygen in the country amid the surge in coronavirus cases. Officials at the meeting informed Modi about the steps being taken to import medical grade oxygen and also the production capacity in the country. The prime minister suggested increasing oxygen production as per the capacity of each manufacturing plant and also asked the officials to ensure unhindered movement of oxygen tankers. across the country.
  5. Uttar Pradesh announced a Sunday lockdown amid the surge in coronavirus cases. Essential services are exempted from the restrictions. Those who don’t wear a mask will be fined Rs 1,000.
  6. The Centre allowed Mumbai-based pharmaceutical company Haffkine Biopharma Corporation to manufacture Covaxin. The decision was taken following Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s request to the Centre to allow the transfer of technology for the vaccine from Bharat Biotech to Haffkine.