Here are the top developments of the day

9.13 pm: Union minister Piyush Goyal says the Centre has 6,177 metric tons of oxygen has been finalised to be distributed to states, reports ANI. He says that Maharashtra will get the biggest share of 1,500 metric tons of oxygen. Delhi will to get 350 metric tons and Uttar Pradesh 800 metric ton, he adds.

9.10 pm: NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul says that the standard operating procedures for the coronavirus pandemic should have been followed in political rallies in the poll-bound states and the ongoing Kumbh Mela in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar, reports NDTV.

9.06 pm: The Centre says that coronavirus vaccinations should not be affected as states impose restrictions to contain the spread of infection, reports NDTV.

8.40 pm: Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla writes to all chief secretaries asking them to ensure that supply of oxygen is prohibited for industrial purposes, except those exempted.

8.37 pm: Maharashtra logs 68,631 new coronavirus cases, its highest one-day infection count, reports PTI. With this, the infection tally climbs to 38,37,959. The toll rises by 503 to 60,473.

8.36 pm: West Bengal registers its highest single-day surge of 8,419 new Covid-19 cases, taking the overall infection count since the pandemic broke out in January 2020 to 6,59,927, reports PTI. With 28 new deaths, the toll climbed to 10,568.

8 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal writes to the Centre requesting 700 metric ton of oxygen every day, ANI reports.

7.55 pm: Here’s a look at the cases reported in a few other states on Sunday evening:

Gujarat: 10,340 new cases, 110 deaths in the past 24 hours. It now has 61,647 active cases, while the toll is 5,377.

Uttar Pradesh: 30,596 new cases, 129 deaths in 24 hours. This is the highest single-day rise in case as well as fatalities in UP.

Tamil Nadu: 10,723 new cases, 42 deaths. The state now has 70,391 active cases and 13,113 deaths. This is the highest one-day infection count reported in the state.

7.43 pm: Delhi reports 25,462 new cases – another record high – and 161 deaths in a day. It now has 74,941 active cases, while the toll is 12,121. Delhi’s positivity rate, which is the percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 out of the total tests conducted, has jumped to 29.74% from 24.56% the previous day.

7.42 pm: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal says 800 oxygen beds are being set up at Yamuna Sports Complex, 500 oxygen beds at the Commonwealth Games Village, ANI reports. “I hope by day after tomorrow, additional 1,400-2,000 beds will be functional.”

7.40 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleges the national Capital’s quota of oxygen supply has been diverted to other states, according to ANI.

7.36 pm: Rajasthan reports 10,514 new cases in a day. The state now has 67,387 active cases and 3,151 deaths.

7.34 pm: Uttarakhand reports 2,630 new Covid cases in a day. This includes 1,281 cases in Dehradun and 572 in Haridwar, ANI reports.

7.33 pm: Nagpur district of Maharashtra reports 7,107 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, ANI reports. The district now has 69,243 active cases.

Mumbai, meanwhile, reports 8,479 new cases and 53 deaths. It now has 87,698 active cases and 12,347 deaths.

7.32 pm: Bihar reports 8,690 new cases in a day, says CM Nitish Kumar. He adds that schools, colleges and other educational institutes will remain closed and no examinations will be held till May 15.

Cinema halls, malls and gyms will also be shut.

“All religious places to remain closed in Bihar till May 15,” Kumar says, according to ANI. “Not more than 25 people will be allowed at last rites. Only 100 people will be allowed at weddings.”

7.30 pm: Bihar announces a night curfew between 9 pm and 5 am, ANI reports. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar says “all shops selling vegetables, fruits, eggs and meat will be closed by 6 pm”. Restaurants can operate home delivery and take away services till 9 pm.

7.20 pm: Tamil Nadu announces new restrictions to curb the rising Covid-19 cases. The state will face a night curfew between 10 pm and 4 am, and Sunday lockdowns from April 20, The Times of India reports. Public transport, taxis, and private vehicles will not be allowed to operate during the night curfew. Only essential items such as milk and medicines will be available on Sundays.

6.48 pm: The Ministry of Railways announces that the Indian Railways is set to run “oxygen express” trains to transport liquid medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders as states battle severe shortage amid the raging second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra governments had approached the ministry to explore if liquid medical oxygen tankers could be moved by the Railways, the ministry says.

After technical trials, empty tankers would be moved from “Kalamboli, and Boisar railway stations in and near Mumbai, and sent to Vizag and Jamshedpur, Rourkela, and Bokaro, for loading of liquid medical oxygen tankers”. A “green corridor” is being created for the fast movement of “oxygen express” trains, the ministry adds.

6.34 pm: Karnataka reports 19,067 new cases and 81 deaths in a day. The state now has 1,33,543 active cases.

6.30 pm: Kerala reports 18,257 new coronavirus cases and 25 deaths in a day, ANI reports.

5.57 pm: Kerala makes it mandatory for everyone travelling from other states to register themselves in an online portal. Travellers who have been vaccinated must carry a negative RT-PCR test report carried out within 48 hours before their arrival in the state, ANI reports.

On the other hand, those who have not been vaccinated, need to undergo a test once they reach the state and must be isolated till the result is available.

5.55 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister seeks 5.4 crore more vaccine doses from the Centre, ANI reports.

5.50 pm: Delhi files FIRs against four airlines for not checking the RT-PCR test reports of passengers travelling from Maharashtra, ANI reports. The four airlines are IndiGo, Vistara, SpiceJet and AirAsia.

5.45 pm: Uttarakhand Chief Minister directs officials to increase the penalty for not wearing masks from Rs 200 to Rs 500, ANI reports.

5.35 pm: All India Institute Of Medical Sciences chief Randeep Guleria suggests wearing two cloth or surgical masks to protect oneself against the coronavirus pandemic, reports NDTV. He says the bigger concern is Covid-19 being airborne and therefore, ventilation is key.

5.31 pm: Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien says the only way to tackle the coronavirus pandemic is prioritising three things: “vaccine, vaccine, and vaccine”, reports NDTV. He also alleges that the politics of the Centre has made things worse.

5.25 pm: Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav criticises the Bihar government after a senior doctor at the Nalanda Medical College and Hospital sought to be relieved from his duty citing lack of oxygen supply in the Covid-19 care medical facility.

“The chief minister [Nitish Kumar] did not answer questions in the past 16 years,” Yadav tweets. “... CM will not accept his mistake even if he remains in the chair for 1,600 years.”

The doctor, Vinod Kumar Singh, said in this letter that the hospital was not being given adequate oxygen cylinders despite several reminders and that it could lead to the deaths of patients.

5.24 pm: Niti Aayog Vice Chairperson Rajiv Kumar says the country needs to prepare for “greater uncertainty” in terms of consumer as well as investor sentiments due to the second wave of coronavirus infections, reports PTI. He adds that the government will respond with fiscal measures as and when required.

5.05 pm: At least six coronavirus patients reportedly died because of low pressure in a liquid oxygen tank at a government medical college in Madhya Pradesh’s Shahdol district, reports NDTV. Some reports have said then number may be as high as 10. The hospital, however, dismisses it as factually incorrect, saying the cause of death was not due to lack of oxygen or low pressure in the oxygen tank.

5.01 pm: Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray says that the third coronavirus wave was likely to hit soon, reports NDTV. He, however, says at the NDTV Solutions Summit that it cannot be determined now if the third wave will be as strong as or weaker than the second wave currently affecting the country.

4.57 pm: Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope says the state government is doing its best to break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus, reports NDTV. At the NDTV Solutions Summit, Tope adds that the government has been transparent in handling the pandemic and never “tried to hide even a single case or death”.

3.46 pm: Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil warns of action against those violating the restrictions imposed by the state government to contain the spread of Covid-19, reports PTI.

3.44 pm: Ambulances, carrying coronavirus-patients, form a long queue outside the Civil Hospital in Rajkot, Gujarat.

3.41 pm: Delhi High Court will take up from April 19 extremely urgent matters that are filed only in 2021 in view of the rising coronavirus cases in the national Capital, reports ANI.

3.39 pm: The Delhi government requests Indian Railways to arrange Covid-19 beds at Anand Vihar and Shakur Basti railway station with logistical support, medical staff and oxygen facilities and identify more facilities up to the level of 5,000 beds as was done last year, reports ANI.

3.38 pm: The police in Pune arrest two persons for allegedly issuing fake RT-PCR certificates, reports ANI.

3.36 pm: Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren holds a meeting with its coalition partners about the coronavirus situation in the state, reports ANI.

3.32 pm: Congress leader Jaiveer Shergill says that the Bharatiya Janata Party dispensation would be the first government in the world to force its people to form lines outside cremation and burial grounds, reports ANI. He accuses the BJP of not being a welfare government. “During demonetisation, it forced people to queue up outside banks,” he says. “Now it’s forcing them to stand in lines for oxygen.”

3.29 pm: Centre writes to ministries and public sector undertakings under them to dedicate their hospital beds for management of coronavirus in states and Union Territories, says health ministry.

3.23 pm: Congress leader Manmohan Singh writes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, suggesting that the key to fighting the coronavirus pandemic is to ramp up vaccination effort. Singh makes five suggestions, including supporting vaccine producers in manufacturing.

3.12 pm: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel says India could have better managed the coronavirus crisis by learning from countries already hit by a second wave, reports NDTV. At the NDTV Solutions Summit, the chief minister also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomacy under which anti-Covid vaccines dose were gifted to other countries.

2.05 pm: The Centre says it has sanctioned setting up 162 Pressure Swing Adsorption plants to augment the supply of medical oxygen. Thirty-three such plants have already been set up.

The states have asked the Centre to set up 100 such more plants, which are also being sanctioned.

1.54 pm: At a meeting on the coronavirus situation in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasises on the importance of wearing masks and maintaining physical distance, ANI reports.

Modi adds that health infrastructure in Varanasi has improved over the last five to six years, and this has helped in combating the coronavirus.

1.20 pm: Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren suggests that his state will need the military’s help to rein in the coronavirus pandemic, reports NDTV. Maharashtra, the country’s worst-hit state, had on Tuesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deploy the Indian Air Force to deliver oxygen tanks.

“We will write to the prime minister, the home minister, defence minister...we want to use their manpower and facilities in the state,” says Soren.

On Saturday, Jharkhand reported 3,838 new cases and 30 deaths. The state now has almost 1.6 lakh infections and the toll rose to 1,400.

12.42 pm: Meanwhile, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said that situation in the Capital was grim but there was no need to panic, NDTV reported. “We have increased the number of beds from 6,000 to 17,000 over the past few days,” he adds. “The expansion had been quick, although occupancy remains too high despite that.”

12.39 pm: Delhi Deputy Chief Manish Sisodia also urges the Centre to supply more oxygen to Delhi. Due to higher than usual consumption, the supply of oxygen allocated to Delhi is falling drastically,” he tweets. “Information is being received from some hospitals that they have a stock of oxygen left for a very limited time. The Delhi government has asked the Centre to immediately increase the oxygen quota for the Capital.”

12.33 pm: Arvind Kejriwal says that the Capital recorded more than 25,000 new cases in the last day.

12.27 pm: The Delhi chief minister says that the Commonwealth Games Village and schools will be used to augment the bed capacity.

12.16 pm: Less than 100 Intensive Care Unit beds are left for patients and there’s oxygen shortage, he adds. “Spoke to [Union Health Minister] Harsh Vardhan yesterday and [Union Home Minister] Amit Shah ji this morning regarding lack of beds and informed them that we’re in dire need,” says Kejriwal.

12.15 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says the government is trying to arrange 6,000 oxygen beds in the national Capital.

12.12 pm: Out of 10,000 regular hospital beds in Delhi, we are trying to ensure that at least 7,000 are reserved for treatment of coronavirus patients, says the Aam Aadmi Party chief.

12.10 pm: The coronavirus positivity rate has risen from 24% to about 30% in Delhi over the past 24 hours, says the chief minister.

12.05 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses a press conference.

12 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi says he is suspending all his election rallies in West Bengal in view of the coronavirus situation. “I would advise all political leaders to think deeply about the consequences of holding large public rallies under the current circumstances,” he tweets.

11.55 am: Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya says the government is working to scale up production of antiviral drug remdesivir, reports ANI. He adds that 20 more plants have been approved for production in addition to existing 20.

11.50 am: Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar says India needs to prepare for “greater uncertainty” in terms of consumer as well as investor sentiments due to the second wave of coronavirus pandemic, reports PTI.

“Apart from their direct impact on some sectors like the services sector, the second wave will increase the uncertainty in the economic environment which can have wider indirect effects on economic activities,” Kumar adds.

11.11 am: Actors Arjun Rampal and Neil Nitin Mukesh have tested positive for the coronavirus. Both of them are under home quarantine.

11.05 am: Uttarakhand Education Minister Arvind Pandey announces that Class 10 state board exams have been cancelled and the Class 12 exams have been postponed amid a huge surge in cases in India, reports ANI.

11.02 am: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has called a Cabinet meeting today as the coronavirus situation in the national Capital deteriorates, reports NDTV. Health minister Satyendar Jain will attend the meeting along with other ministers.

10.50 am: Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank announces that IIT-JEE (Main) exams, scheduled from April 27 to 30, has been postponed due to surge in coronavirus cases. The new dates for the engineering entrance exam will be announced later.

9.49 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a meeting at 11 am to review the coronavirus situation in his constituency Varanasi, says his office. The meeting will be attended by top officials, the local administration and doctors.

9.45 am: The Shiv Sena blames the Modi government and the Election Commission for the surge in coronavirus cases in India, reports PTI.

“China might have been responsible for the outbreak of the pandemic in India, but for the second wave of coronavirus, the Election Commission and the Centre are responsible,” the party says in an editorial in Saamna. “The virus spread at 500 times more speed to the rest of the country from the states where polls were either held recently or are still underway.”

9.25 am: India reports 2,61,500 new coronavirus cases in a record rise in infections since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. The country now has 1,47,88,109 total cases. The toll increases by 1,501 to 1,77,150. As many as 1,28,09,643 people have recovered from the infection so far. India has 18,01,316 active cases of the virus.

9.20 am: Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav criticises Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for lack of health infrastructure in the state to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. He shares a letter from a doctor at the Nalanda Medical College and Hospital, seeking permission from authorities to be relieved from his duty because of lack of oxygen supply in the hospital to treat Covid-19 patients.

“This is the false development of Nitish Kumar,” tweets Yadav. “The superintendent of NMCH Hospital, Patna, has requested to be relieved of his work charge due to lack of oxygen. You just imagine the situation. The chief minister did not answer questions in the past 16 years. What is that 16? CM will not accept his mistake even if he remains in the chair for 1600 years.”

9.15 am: Authorities in Mumbai have asked people involved in essential services to use colour-coded stickers to limit vehicular movement during the coronavirus crisis, reports PTI.

“The use of the red, green and yellow stickers has been introduced to ensure strict implementation of the restrictions imposed by the Maharashtra government to control the spread of the virus,” says city Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale.

Vehicles belonging to doctors, medical staff, ambulances and those engaged in supplying medical equipment will have to use red stickers. Vehicles involved in transporting food, vegetables, fruits, groceries and dairy products will use green stickers. Meanwhile, civic officials, personnel of electricity, telephone and press departments have to place yellow stickers on their vehicles.

9.12 am: France will impose a 10-day quarantine on passengers coming from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and South Africa due to rising concerns about variants of the coronavirus, reports AFP. Only flights from Brazil have been suspended until at least next Friday.

9.07 am: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleges the Centre’s “mix of arrogance and suppression of the truth” is killing lakhs of people. “We need humility, a clear vaccine strategy and income support to contain this virus and related damage,” Gandhi adds.

9.04 am: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh says four sites in the state were cleared for setting up oxygen plants but his government was awaiting final permission from the Centre since last year, NDTV reports. “I wrote to Union Minister Piyush Goyal about this,” he adds. “This is a problem.”

8.58 am: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan claims there is no shortage of vaccines in the country.

“The Total Consumption of vaccines so far (wastage included) has been approximately 12,57,18,000 against the 14,15,00,000 doses provided by the Centre to the States,” the government says. “About 1.58 crore doses are still available with the States while another 1,16,84,000 are in pipeline, to be delivered by next week. Stocks of every small state are replenished after 7 days. For big states, the time period is 4 days.”

8.53 am: India is currently reporting the sharpest growth rate in coronavirus cases at 7.6%, the health ministry says. “There is also a sharp growth of 10.2% in the number of deaths,” the government adds. “The widening gap between Daily New Cases and Daily New Recoveries reflects that the infection is spreading at a much faster rate than recoveries with consistently growing active cases.”

8.49 am: Streets in Lucknow are empty in view of the Sunday lockdown.

8.47 am: The Delhi Police check the movement of traffic during the weekend curfew in the Capital.

8.43 am: Seven companies manufacturing Remdesivir have slashed prices of the drug. Zydus Cadilla has reduced the medicine’s price from Rs 2,800 to Rs 899.

7.47 am: North Delhi Mayor Jai Prakash claims that more deaths took place in the national Capital on Friday than what the Arvind Kejriwal-led government had reported, reports PTI.

According to the official data shared by the health department, 141 fatalities were reported on April 16. The North Delhi mayor, however, claims that 193 people had died on that day. “According to cremations and burials performed of Covid-19 victims, the number of fatalities stands at 193,” he alleges.

7.45 am: The Odisha government has stopped innoculation drive in over 1,000 session sites, including in the worst-hit Nuapada district, due to vaccine shortages, reports PTI.

7.35 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday night met top central government officials via video conference to review the worsening coronavirus situation in the country. Opposition leaders have criticised him for campaigning in West Bengal despite reports of acute shortages of medical equipment and hospital beds across several states.

Here’s what he told officials at the meeting:

  • Utilise the entire national capacity to ramp up vaccine production.
  • Ensure additional supply of beds through temporary hospitals and isolation centres.  
  • Installation of approved medical oxygen plants should be accelerated.
  • There is no substitute to testing, tracking and treatment of the coronavirus.
  • All necessary measures must be taken to ramp up the availability of hospital beds for Covid patients.
  • Local administration needs to be proactive and sensitive to concerns of citizens.
  • Use of Remdesivir and other medicines must be in accordance with approved medical guidelines and their misuse and black marketing must be strictly curbed.

A look at developments from Saturday:

  • India reported 2,34,692 new cases of coronavirus, setting yet another grim milestone of a highest single-day rise in infections. The toll rose to 1,75,649, with 1,341 more fatalities since Friday.
  • Private testing labs in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow city are turning away residents, saying they received “orders from the administration to not test”, even as the district reports a surge in coronavirus cases.
  • Delhi has about 24,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday and was facing an acute shortage of hospital beds, life-saving drugs and medical oxygen amid the second wave of the pandemic, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said. “The situation is very serious, it is very concerning,” Kejriwal said at a press briefing. 
  • Mumbai’s civic body, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s mayor Kishori Pednekar on Saturday called for a complete lockdown in the city considering the current Covid-19 situation. Hours after her comments, Maharashtra reported 6 67,123 new cases of coronavirus – another record high from the state.
  • Congress chief Sonia Gandhi criticised the Narendra Modi government for its “the gross unpreparedness and avoidable adhocism” in foreseeing, evaluating and managing the coronavirus crisis in the country.