India on Saturday registered 4,01,993 coronavirus cases, pushing the overall count of infections to 1,91,64,969 since the pandemic first broke out in India in January 2020. This is the highest ever single-day rise in cases reported by any country so far. This is first time any country has recorded more than 4 lakh daily cases.
With 3,523 deaths, the toll climbed to 2,11,853. There are 32,68,710 active cases and the recovery tally stood at 1,56,84,406.
India has so far administered over 15 crore coronavirus vaccine doses. As many as 27,44,485 shots were given on Friday alone.
India will begin its third phase of immunisation from Saturday, covering all those above 18 years of age. Over 90 lakh people registered for the third phase on Thursday, the second day after registrations opened. So far, more than 2.28 crore people have registered themselves for getting vaccinated.
Several states have said that they do not have enough vaccines to inoculate residents between the age group of 18-44, indicating that they are likely to miss the launch of the immunisation programme. Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Assam, among other states, have already raised the matter of vaccine shortages, while Punjab, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are some of those that have said vaccinations will be delayed for adults.
The Union defence ministry on Friday granted emergency financial powers to the country’s armed forces in order to augment their efforts against the coronavirus pandemic. The powers will allow the armed forces to establish and operate quarantine facilities and hospitals, an official release from the ministry stated. Besides, it will also help them operate facilities, procure equipment and resources, and perform any required urgent tasks. The armed forces will be able to perform all these operations without the usual clearances.
The country’s healthcare infrastructure is reeling under the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic as lakhs of new coronavirus cases emerge every day. This has led to an acute shortage of oxygen, beds and timely medical care across several states.
Social media is awash with desperate calls for ambulances, intensive care unit beds and medicines. Many hospitals have also taken to Twitter or going to court to plead with the government to replenish their oxygen supplies and warning that they will need to stop admissions of new patients.
The Union health ministry on Friday said that states were asked to conduct oxygen consumption audits and ensure the “rational use” of the gas. The ministry said that state governments have been advised to make sure there was no “unnecessary oxygen administration” to patients who may not require it. The ministry also advised to monitor private health facilities which include oxygen cylinders as part of Covid-19 home-based care packages.
However, earlier on Friday the Centre told the Supreme Court that there was no oxygen shortage in the country and that 10,000 metric tonnes of the gas was available.
Amid this, the Supreme Court on Friday said that governments should not curb the voices on social media either calling out for medical help or conveying their grievances during the coronavirus pandemic. It also Thursday flagged the matter of differential pricing of Covid-19 vaccines and asked the Centre not to leave it to the manufacturers to decide on the cost.