The Centre on Friday told the Delhi High Court that it had set up a control room for the nodal officers of various states to coordinate the management of oxygen supply. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed chief ministers to ensure that tankers carrying oxygen to other states must not be stopped or stranded amid severe shortage of supply across the country.
The first “Oxygen Express” run by railways unloaded three tankers at Nagpur on Friday Maharashtra, meanwhile, reported 66,836 new cases and 773 people died in 24 hours. Of the new cases, 7,221 are from Mumbai.
India on Friday registered another global high of 3,32,730 coronavirus cases, pushing the infection tally in the country to 1,62,63,695 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. The country also registered its highest toll at 2,263. With this, the toll climbed to 1,86,920.
Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 14.43 crore people and killed over 30.68 lakh since the pandemic broke out in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 8.28 crore people have recovered from the infection.
The national helpline number is 011-23978046, and the toll-free number is 1075.
Read the day’s top updates here
10.54 pm: Kerala announces “restrictions similar to lockdown” for Saturday and Sunday, reports ANI.
10.52 pm: Haryana records 11,854 new cases and 60 deaths, reports ANI.
10.50 pm: Delhi registers 24,331 new cases as tally goes up to 9,80,679, shows government data. Toll rises to 13,541, with 348 more deaths in the last 24 hours.
10 pm: Karnataka reports highest single-day rise in cases as the state registers 26,962 new infections, reports PTI. With 190 deaths, the toll goes past 14,000. Of the total cases, Bengaluru Urban district alone accounts for 16,662 infections.
9.55 pm: The first “Oxygen Express” train that left Visakhapatnam on Thursday, arrives in Maharashtra’s Nagpur, ANI reports. Three of the seven oxygen tankers that the train was carrying gets unloaded at Nagpur.
9.31 pm: West Bengal reports 12,876 new Covid-19 cases, 59 fatalities and 6,878 discharges in 24 hours, reports ANI, citing the state department bulletin. The overall case count stands at 7,13,780 and active cases at 74,737.
9.25 pm: Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla asks all states and Union Territories to provide adequate security to oxygen-transporting vehicles and to make arrangements for exclusive corridors for its transportation, reports ANI.
9.12 pm: A train carrying oxygen from Visakhapatnam to Maharashtra reached Nagpur on Friday evening, reports said. The state is among those facing a severe oxygen shortage as it struggles to cope with a second wave of the coronavirus.
Seven tankers carrying 15 tonnes of liquid medical oxygen each have arrived in the state, NDTV reports.
8.58 pm: Maharashtra has 66,836 new cases, and 773 people have died of Covid in the state in the last 24 hours, reports ANI. Of the new cases, 7,221 are from Mumbai.
8.53 pm: Bengaluru’s metro will be closed during the lockdown over the weekend, reports The News Minute.
8.52 pm: Rajasthan reports 15,398 new Covid cases, according to ANI.
8.51 pm: Sixty-five health care workers who were on duty at the Kumbh Mela have tested positive for the coronavirus, reports PTI.
8.45 pm: Those travelling by air from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh to West Bengal from Monday will have to carry coronavirus negative tests not less than 72 hours old.
8.38 pm: West Bengal has 12,876 new coronavirus cases, reports PTI.
8.30 pm: The European Union has made the world’s biggest vaccine supply deal with Pfizer for it to supply around 1.8 billion doses of the company’s coronavirus vaccine between 2021 and 2023, reports Reuters. The EU is seeking to stock up on longterm Covid vaccine supplies to ensure its population of around 450 million is inoculated for the next couple of years.
The agreement comes even as the World Health Organization has pointed out that vaccines are still unavailable in some of the world’s poorest countries.
8.01 pm: Batra Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Delhi, Executive Director Dr Bankata says that oxygen firm Inox has refused to provide liquid medical oxygen supplies beyond 1.7 tonnes that they supplied at 2 pm on Friday. “We may run out of oxygen by 8-8:30 pm for 275 Covid-19 patients,” he tells ANI. “Need at least 6 tonnes till we get supply tomorrow at noon.”
7.54 pm: Maharashtra’s Nagpur district reports 7,485 new Covid-19 cases, 6,531 recoveries and 82 deaths in 24 hours, reports ANI.
7.51 pm: Union Home Minister Amit Shah tells ANI: “Dhanvantari Covid Hospital will be functional from tomorrow with 950 beds, 250 ICU [intensive care unit] beds. Gujarat has more ICU beds in comparison to other states.”
7.49 pm: The Gurugram administration has ordered closing of all shops by 6 pm, reports The Indian Express.
7.40 pm: The Defence ministry has decided to airlift 23 mobile oxygen generating plants from Germany as many states reel under an acute shortage of medical oxygen due to a massive surge in Covid-19 cases, reports PTI.
7.33 pm: The Andhra Pradesh government decides to imposes a night curfew from 10 pm to 5 am from Saturday onwards, amid the prevailing Covid-19 situation in the state, reports The News Minute.
7.19 pm: Delhi is experiencing a surge in cases involving the UK strain of the coronavirus, as well the Indian double mutant version, reports NDTV. According to the National Centre for Disease Control, cases of the UK virus strain have almost doubled, from the samples taken in the Capital in March.
7.11 pm: The new mutant version of the coronavirus might be undetectable by the RT-PCR test, Dr Souradipta Chandra from Delhi’s Helvetia Medical Centre tells ANI. “I believe there are double and triple mutant varieties that have been discovered & due to change in structure, RT-PCR tests unable to detect,” he says.
He adds that there are several “new” symptoms such as abdominal pain, rashes, confusion, brain fog, bluish discolouration of the fingers, and others.
7.05 pm: Tamil Nadu has 13,766 new cases today, with 78 deaths and 8,078 recoveries.
7 pm: Andhra Pradesh has 11,766 new cases of coronavirus today, reports ANI.
6.30 pm: On Thursday, the US State Department said that America has a responsibility towards its citizens, when asked about repeated requests to remove export bans on raw materials required to manufacture vaccines in India.
“It is, of course, not only in our interest to see Americans vaccinated, it’s in the interests of the rest of the world to see Americans vaccinated,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.
6.24 pm: Goa has 1,420 new cases of coronavirus and 11,040 active cases as of now, reports The Times of India.
6.18 pm: Andhra Pradesh decides to impose a night curfew starting tonight at 10 pm, which will last up to 5 am, reports ANI.
5.20 pm: AIIMS chief Randeep Guleria says it seems the virus has become more infectious. “And that is why we’re seeing this huge spike in the number of cases in such a short period of time,” he tells News18. “As far as mortality is concerned, our mortality still continues to be low, but it’s still more than what we would like it to be.”
5.13 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi questions the government’s priorities as it invites bids for the Central Vista project during the second wave of the pandemic in the country.
5.11 pm: A Norwegian climber becomes the first to be tested positive for coronavirus in Mount Everest base camp, reports the AP. Erlend Ness tested positive on April 15 and was flown to Kathmandu.
5.09 pm: The Congress says the Supreme Court’s suo motu intervention in the management of Covid situation in the country is wrong, reports PTI. “The Supreme Court’s intervention on April 22, 2021 is totally uncalled for,” says Abhishek Singhvi. “Unfortunately, it is wrong, wrong and wrong. It is wrong because it is not suo motu ameliorative but a reaction to palliative high court orders.”
5.07 pm: Zydus Cadila says it has received emergency use approval from the Drugs Controller General of India for emergency use of its drug ‘Virafin’ for treating moderate cases of COVID-19 in adults. “The fact that we are able to offer a therapy which significantly reduces viral load when given early on can help in better disease management,” says Cadila Managing Director Sharvil Patel. “It comes at a much-needed time for patients.”
5.01 pm: The Centre tells the Delhi High Court that it has set up a control room for the nodal officers of various states to coordinate the management of oxygen supply, reports NDTV. The court is hearing the plea of two Delhi hospitals.
“We can’t send paramilitary forces for the transportation of oxygen,” says Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. “Constitutionally it can’t be done. There might be a conflict between the state police and the central forces. The arrangement has been made to sort it at the bureaucratic level.”
4.14 pm: Delhi on Thursday registered its highest one-day toll amid a severe oxygen shortage. Besides health care staff, the Capital’s crematoriums are also under tremendous pressure.
3.08 pm: Modi urges state governments to set up high-level coordination committees to carry oxygen to hospitals.
3.05 pm: The prime minister’s office says Railways, Air Force is being deployed to reduce travel and turnaround time for oxygen tankers.
3.03 pm: Modi also directs state governments to ensure that oxygen tankers aren’t stopped or stranded amid the escalating crisis across the country.
3.01 pm: In his meeting with chief ministers of states to rein in the pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says there will not be paucity of resources if everybody works as one nation, according to a statement from his office.
2.55 pm: The Congress criticises the suo motu intervention made by the Supreme Court on the management of the coronavirus crisis in India, reports PTI.
“The Supreme Court’s intervention is totally uncalled for,” says Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi. “Unfortunately, it is wrong, wrong and wrong. It is wrong because it is not suo motu ameliorative but a reaction to palliative high court orders.”
2.48 pm: The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited says services will be closed on Saturdays and Sundays due to the weekend curfew, reports ANI.
2.42 pm: The Supreme Court asks why the Tamil Nadu government cannot take over Vedanta’s Sterlite copper unit at Tuticorin, closed since May 2018 due to pollution concerns, for producing oxygen to treat coronavirus patient as shortages are being reported across India, reports PTI.
“We are not interested that Vedanta or A, B or C runs it,” says a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said. “We are interested that oxygen should be produced.”
2.37 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s office expresses regret after his discussion with Prime Minister Narendra Modi was shared live, reports ANI.
“There has never been any instruction, written or verbal, from central government that the said interaction could not be shared live,” his office says. “There have been multiple occasions of similar interactions where matters of public importance which had no confidential information were shared live. However, if any inconvenience was caused we highly regret that.”
Kejriwal had raised the oxygen crisis in the national Capital. But the Modi government has accused him of using the meeting to “play politics” and “spread lies”, reports NDTV.
2.04 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleges that the Centre has diverted her state’s oxygen supplies to Uttar Pradesh, reports ANI. “The supply chain is being maintained in BJP states,” she alleges. “Where will we get oxygen from?”
2.02 pm: Telangana reports 6,206 new Covid-19 infections, pushing the tally of cases in the state over 3.79 lakh, while the toll rises to 1,928 with 29 more fatalities, reports PTI.
2 pm: Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan reported 75.01% of the new Covid-19 cases registered today, says the Union Health Ministry.
1.59 pm: A tanker carrying liquid oxygen, which was travelling from Panipat to Sirsa in Haryana, has gone missing, reports PTI. The state police have registered a case and launched an investigation.
1.58 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is holding a meeting with oxygen manufacturers in the country.
1.08 pm: “We fear big tragedy may happen due to lack of oxygen for patients, national plan needed to deal with situation,” says Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
1 pm: At a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal suggests that the Centre should take over all oxygen plants through Army, reports PTI.
12.55 pm: A bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Ravindra Bhat also express displeasure for senior counsel “imputing motives” to them for registering suo motu case on management of the pandemic, reports Bar and Bench.
“You have read the order,” the bench tells President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Vikas Singh. “Is there any intention to transfer the case? Mr Singh listen to us. Even before reading the order, there was criticism about something which was not there in order. This is how the institution is being destroyed.”
12.44 pm: The Supreme Court adjourns hearing on the management of the coronavirus pandemic to Tuesday after Solitictor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, sought more time, reports Live Law.
The matter will be now heard by incoming Chief Justice NV Ramana. Chief Justice SA Bobde retires today.
12.01 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asks Prime Minister Narendra Modi to suggest to whom he should speak in the central government when an oxygen tanker destined for Delhi is stopped in another state, reports ANI.
“There’s a huge shortage of oxygen in Delhi,” Kejriwal adds. “Will people of Delhi not get oxygen if there is no oxygen-producing plant here?” Modi is holding a review meeting on the coronavirus situation with chief ministers of all the states.
11.59 am: Chief Justice of India SA Bobde adjourns the hearing on the Supreme Court Bar Association plea till April 27, reports ANI.
11.56 am: Senior lawyer Vikas Singh, appearing for the Supreme Court Bar Association, tells the court that it should look into the interstate movement of oxygen as there is a serious shortage, reports ANI. The association had approached on Thursday the Supreme Court opposing the transfer of High Court cases related to Covid-19 to the top court.
11.52 am: French President Emmanuel Macron says the country is with India in its struggle against the coronavirus, which spares no one, reports ANI. “We stand ready to provide our support,” he says.
11.50 am: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat calls an all-party meeting to discuss the coronavirus situation in the state, reports ANI, citing his office.
11.49 am: A doctor at Delhi’s Holy Family Hospital says that the facility has liquid medical oxygen that will last one hour and the backup oxygen supply that will last two hours, reports ANI. The doctor, Sumit Ray, the hospital is waiting on oxygen firm Linde to come and fill the tanks.
11.45 am: Advocate Harish Salve requests the bench to recuse himself as amicus curiae from the case, reports ANI. The Supreme Court allows it.
11.44 am: The Supreme Court is hearing the suo motu cognisance case on coronavirus crisis, reports ANI. The court will also examine the judicial power of High Courts to declare a lockdown.
11.22 am: Puducherry begins a four day lockdown from Friday, PTI reports.
11.16 am: The health ministry advises Covid-19 patients isolated at home to practise proning in case of breathing discomfort. Proning is the process of turning a patient with precise, safe motions, from their back onto their abdomen (stomach), so the individual is lying face down.
11.14 am: The All India Institute of Medical Sciences will only test symptomatic health care workers from now, ANI reports.
11.12 am: Pfizer says it plans to provide India its vaccine at a “not-for-profit” price, The Indian Express reports.
10.57 am: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi blames the Centre for the shortage of oxygen and ICU beds in the country.
10.55 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds a meeting with the chief ministers of states witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases, ANI reports.
10.51 am: The Empowered Group of Officers, set up by the Centre for Covid-19 response, had warned of the shortage of oxygen back in April last year, The Indian Express reports.
10.39 am: Uttar Pradesh on Thursday reported a record 34,379 new cases, taking its overall count since the beginning of the pandemic in January last year to 9,76,765, according to PTI. The state’s toll rose to 10,541 as it registered 195 deaths in the last day.
Karnataka also reports a record 25,795 new cases, taking its tally of infections since the beginning of the pandemic to 12,47,997. The state’s toll rises by 123 to 13,885. Bengaluru alone records over 15,000 cases.
10.36 am: The double mutant Indian variant of the coronavirus has now been detected in Belgium, AFP reports.
Twenty nursing students, who arrived in Belgium from France in mid-April, have tested positive for the Covid variant.
10.27 am: The health ministry releases new clinical guidance for management of adult coronavirus patients. It says that remdesivir should be given only to those patients with moderate to severe diseases (requiring supplemental oxygen) within 10 days of onset of symptoms.
The health ministry recommends off-label use of convalescent plasma only in the early moderate disease, preferably within seven days of the onset of symptoms.
The guidelines say that Tocilizumab drug should be used in case of severe diseases, preferably within 24 to 48 hours of the onset of the disease or ICU admission.
10.25 am: An oxygen tanker arrives at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi, where 25 patients have died.
10.12 am: Max Healthcare says it won’t admit new patients in its hospitals in Delhi-NCR till oxygen supplies stablilise.
Max Healthcare has since deleted its tweet.
10.07 am: Covishield, the Serum Institute of India’s vaccine against the coronavirus, offers protection against the double mutant variant detected in India, Rakesh Mishra, the director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, says, citing preliminary results of a study.
9.39 am: India has so far administered 13,54,78,420 Covid-19 vaccine doses, giving 31,47,782 shots on Thursday.
9.29 am: India reports a record 3,32,730 coronavirus cases, pushing the tally in the country to 1,62,63,695 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. The country also registers its highest toll at 2,263. With this, the total number of fatalities climbed to 1,86,920. There are 24,28,616 active cases and 1,36,48,159 patients have so far recovered.
9.05 am: The director of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi says 25 “sickest” patients have died in the last 24 hours and that the hospital’s oxygen stock will last for only two more hours, reports ANI.
Citing sources, reports are saying low oxygen pressure was the likely cause of the death of 25 patients.
“Ventilators and Bipap not working effectively,” the director says in a statement. “Resorting to manual ventilation in ICUs [Intensive Care Unit] and Emergency. Major crisis likely. Lives of another 60 sickest patients at risk, need urgent intervention.”
India has reported a global record of more than 3,14,835 new infections on Thursday and is critically short of hospital beds and medical oxygen.
8 am: Music composer Shravan Kumar Rathod died on Thursday evening due to coronavirus, ANI reports. The 66-year-old had recently tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was hospitalised in a critical condition. Rathod was a part of the popular composer duo Nadeem-Shravan.
7.50 am: The Jharkhand government has also promised to provide free coronavirus vaccines to all above 18 years, ANI reports.
7.45 am: The Punjab and Himachal Pradesh governments announce that they would provide free vaccines for all above 18 from May 1, The Indian Express reports.
7.40 am: The oxygen shortage continues to worsen as two hospitals in Gautam Buddh Nagar in Uttar Pradesh complain of a crunch, PTI reports. The two private hospitals – Kailash Hospital in Sector 27 and Prakash Hospital in Sector 31 – have around 600 Covid patients between them. They said that their resources were already overstretched and that they had only some hours of oxygen supply.
“In such hospitals, no new admissions are being taken,” Chief Medical Officer Deepak Ohri says. “They will resume once oxygen supply is normalised.”
7.35 am: The All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi discontinues the testing of asymptomatic health care workers due to shortage of staff, ANI reports. Only those who show symptoms will now be tested and isolated if needed.
7.30 am: At least 13 coronavirus patients die after a fire breaks out at a Covid Center in Maharashtra’s Palghar district, ANI reports.
The fire broke out in the ICU of the hospital in Vasai around 3 am. Sixteen patients were undergoing treatment at the hospital. District Disaster Control Cell chief Vivekanand Kadam says an explosion in the AC unit of the ICU may have caused the fire, according to PTI.
7.20 am: Canada bans all flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days as coronavirus cases rise in the region, AP reports. The move will go into effect from 9 am Friday.
Here are the top updates from Thursday
- India on Thursday set a grave new milestone by recording 3.14 lakh new Covid-19 cases – the world’s highest single-day rise in infections since the virus first surfaced in China last year. The country now has 1,59,30,965 total cases. For the first time, 2,104 deaths were recorded and the toll rose to 1,84,657. The second wave of the pandemic is rapidly worsening with the country reporting over 2 lakh cases everyday since April 15.
- The Bombay High Court asked the Union government to reconsider its stand that door-to-door vaccination was not feasible, saying it should think about the plight of the elderly and disabled. A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni said the government cannot just “leave old people to die”.
- No restrictions should be imposed on the movement of oxygen between states, the Centre said.
- The Delhi High Court directed the central government to ensure that oxygen supplies and its transportation remained undisrupted.
- Modi asked state governments to “come down heavily” on those who are hoarding oxygen used to treat coronavirus patients as several states faced shortages.
- The Supreme Court sought a “national plan” from the Centre after taking cognisance of matters related to supply of oxygen, essential drugs, method and manner of vaccination and the power of state governments to impose lockdown.
- The SC also told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the cases related to the management of pandemic before the High Courts should be withdrawn as it will create confusion. But the Supreme Court Bar Association moved the SC against this order to transfer High Court cases on Covid crisis.
- The Election Commission banned roadshows and restricted public meetings to 500 in West Bengal amid rising Covid cases. The poll panel’s announcement came hours after the Calcutta High Court expressed disappointment at the way elections had been conducted so far. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has cancelled all her pre-scheduled rallies and Prime Minister Narendra Modi scrapped his visit to the state on Friday.
- Delhi on Thursday registered 26,169 new coronavirus cases and 306 deaths. This is the highest number of fatalities the Capital has seen in a day since the beginning of the pandemic in January last year. With this, the city’s tally of infections rose to 9,56,348 and the toll went up to 13,193.
- Maharashtra, on the other hand, recorded 67,103 new cases today, pushing the state’s tally to 40,94,840. The toll rose by 568 to 62,479.
- The Centre said all Indian adults can register to get their coronavirus vaccine on the government’s Co-WIN portal or the Aarogya Setu app from April 28.