10.52 pm: The Centre says the virus may emerge again and so preparations have to be made at the national level in collaboration with states, infrastructure needs to be ramped up.

“We kept warning again and again from this platform that the second wave of Covid-19 will come,” says NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul. “It was said that the sero-positivity is 20 per cent, 80 per cent of the population is still vulnerable and that virus has not gone anywhere and other countries were also witnessing a resurge. Was such a peak expected? Well, no modelling can predict the size of a peak as the unexpected behaviour virus is well known. So peak will come, the virus can again emerge, we know. So preparations have to be made at country level in collaboration with states, infrastructure has to be ramped up, containment measures have to be implemented and Covid appropriate behaviour has to be followed.”

10.21 pm: Punjab logs 184 deaths and 8,494 new cases.

10.18 pm: Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asks Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to permit the Public Accounts Committee to meet at the earliest to deliberate upon the pandemic situation and the vaccination policy.

10.17 pm: Haryana registers 12,286 fresh cases and 163 fatalities.

9.53 pm: Manipur BJP president S Tikendra Singh dies of coronavirus in Imphal, reports PTI. He was 69.

9.37 pm: Gujarat adds 10,742 new cases and 109 deaths to its tally.

9.34 pm: West Bengal logs 20,839 fresh infections, 19,181 recoveries and 129 deaths.

9.32 pm: Tamil Nadu reports 30,621 new cases, 19,287 recoveries and 297 deaths.

9.30 pm: Jharkhand will start free vaccination campaign for the 18-44 age group from Friday, reports PTI. “From 14 May 2021, the state government is going to start the free vaccination drive for people falling under 18 - 44 years of age,” a state government official tells PTI. “As of now 4,14,340 doses of Covaxin and 2,34,400 doses of Covishield are available in the state, which was provided by the central government to Jharkhand for the drive.”

9.12 pm: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar urges farmers to suspend their stir against the farm laws, reports PTI. He alleges that their movement to and from dharna sites was spreading the infection in villages.

8.38 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold review meetings with district magistrates of high Covid burden districts on May 18 and May 20 in the presence of the chief ministers concerned, reports The Hindu, quoting unidentified officials. The DMs of 46 districts from nine states will participate in the meeting on May 18 and those of 54 districts from 10 states on May 20.

8.35 pm: Maharashtra has 42,582 new cases and 850 deaths today. This is the fifth day in a row when the state recorded less than 50,000 daily cases, reports the Hindustan Times. With this, its tally of infections since the pandemic began rises to 52,69,292, while the toll goes up to 78,857.

7.43 pm: The Karnataka High Court issues a notice to the BS Yediyurappa-led government seeking to know about the compensation to be given to families of coronavirus patients who lost their lives due to oxygen shortage, reports Live Law.

7.40 pm: Sterlite Copper begins production of medical oxygen at its facility in Tamil Nadu, reports PTI. It also dispatches the first batch of medical grade oxygen.

7.39 pm: The National Human Rights Commission issues notices to Centre, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar over bodies found floating in Ganga, reports PTI. “It (NHRC) has issued notices to the chief secretaries of both the states and the secretary, Union Ministry of Jal Shakti, today calling for action taken report within four weeks,” reads its statement.

7.34 pm: A look at the state numbers

Goa: 2,491 new cases; 63 casualties

Uttar Pradesh: 17,775 cases; 281 deaths

Telangana: 4,693 new infections; 33 deaths

Madhya Pradesh: 8,419 new cases, 74 fatalities

Karnataka: 35,297 fresh infections, 344 deaths

Rajasthan: 15,867 new cases, 159 casualties

7.28 pm: Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik claims that the French embassy in India has procured the Moderna vaccine.

7.21 pm: Punjab becomes the first state to decide to join the global COVAX facility to source immunisation shots at the best price, reports PTI. COVAX or the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access is a worldwide initiative aimed at providing equitable access to anti-Covid vaccines.

6.41 pm: The Bihar government releases lockdown guidelines, says offices will remain closed but essential services will be allowed, reports ANI.

6.39 pm: Telangana registers 4,693 new Covid-19 cases, 6,876 recoveries and 33 fatalities today, reports ANI, citing the health department.

6.39 pm: Andhra Pradesh reports 22,399 new Covid-19 cases, 89 deaths and 18,638 recoveries today, reports ANI.

6.38 pm: Kerala reports 39,955 new Covid-19 cases, 33,733 recoveries and 97 deaths today, reports ANI.

5.43 pm: NITI Aayog official Dr VK Paul says the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has discussed it and scientists believe that if a person is infected with Covid-19, they “develop antibodies and there is protection”.

“There is data, scientists opine that a person should get vaccinated 6 months after recovery,” he adds, according to ANI.

5.39 pm: Jharkhand Health Minister Banna Gupta says the state has ordered 25 lakh doses each of Covaxin and Covishield, but received only 1.34 lakh shots of the Bharat Biotech vaccine and 1 lakh of the Serum Institute one.

“Jharkhand is being treated unfairly,” Gupta tells ANI. “The Centre has taken decision to set up 1,057 oxygen plants but Jharkhand got only one.”

5.37 pm: Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has held a virtual meeting with the health ministers of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, and Delhi on the Covid-19 situation, reports ANI.

5.33 pm: Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers DV Sadananda Gowda has reacted to criticism against the government on Covid-19 vaccine shortages, reports PTI.

“The court has with good intention said everyone in the country should get vaccinated,” he says. “I want to ask you, if the court says tomorrow that you have to give this much [of vaccine], if it has not been produced yet, should we hang ourselves?”

5.30 pm: India may get enough Covid-19 vaccine doses to inoculate its population by December, NITI Aayog (Health) member Dr VK Paul, who also heads the national task force has said, reports News18.

5.26 pm: The United States Customs and Border Protection cautions against carrying cow dung cakes on flights.

“US Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists discovered cow dung cakes while examining leftover baggage recently at Washington Dulles International Airport,” the statement reads. “...cow dung from India is prohibited due to the potential introduction of Foot and Mouth disease.”

5.22 pm: IIT-Kharagpur announces that its offices will remain shut till May 23 amid rising Covid-19 cases, reports PTI.

5.21 pm: Assam’s civil hospitals will have their own oxygen plants within June, says state Health Minister Keshab Mahanta, according to PTI.

5.20 pm: The Chhattisgarh government cancels tenders for the construction of the new state Assembly building and halts work on major projects in the state, reports PTI.

5.17 pm: Union Minister and BJP leader Hardeep Singh Puri and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor have exchanged barbs on Covid-19 vaccinations, reports PTI.

The two politicians have argued on Twitter, with Puri accusing the Congress of causing vaccine hesitancy. Tharoor blames the BJP government for not taking responsibility for its “manifest failures” of policy.

5.16 pm: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath visits the Aligarh Muslim University to review the Covid-19 situation, reports PTI. At least 35 serving and retired faculty members have reportedly died due to the infections or symptoms related to Covid-19 in recent weeks.

4.33 pm: The gap between the first and second doses of the Covishield Covid-19 vaccine may be increased to 12 to 16 weeks, the Centre says, according to NDTV. The interval of the dosage for Covaxin remains at four to six weeks.

4.30 pm: Paul says inoculations with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is likely to begin from next week.

4.29 pm: Paul says the state governments should focus on providing the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccines so that the beneficiaries are fully vaccinated.

4.24 pm: NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul says nearly 18 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in India. “In the US, the number is around 26 crores,” he adds. “So, India stand in the third position, after China.”

4.21 pm: The Union health ministry provides data on Covid-19 vaccinations.

4.19 pm: In the Union health ministry’s briefing, NITI Aayog (Health) member Dr VK Paul speaks about vaccinations done in the country.

4.16 pm: Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain says that states have to buy Covid-19 vaccines from outside [other countries], Centre should provide it to all state governments. “The two vaccine-producing companies should share their formula with other companies,” he says, according to ANI. “They should not be allowed to sell vaccines for more than Rs 150. I have requested the Union Health Minister.”

4 pm: Union health ministry begins briefing on the Covid-19 situation in the country. Union Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal says that 187 districts have shown a continued decline in cases since last two weeks.

2.39 pm: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announces extension of lockdown in the state for the next 10 days from May 16 to May 25. The chief minister says this decision was taken after a meeting with government officials and a review of the “positive effects” of the restrictions.

1.30 pm: Puducherry reports 1,942 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the overall tally of infections to 78,973, PTI reports. The Union territory’s toll rises by 24 to 1,069.

1.24 pm: The Supreme Court says it will issue directions to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to set up community kitchens and facilitate the transportation of migrant workers who wish to go back home, PTI reports.

12.34 pm: Sisodia adds that Delhi has written to the Centre to say the surplus oxygen it is receiving can be sent to other states. He says the Capital required 700 MT of oxygen when the number of cases were higher, but its oxygen requirements have dropped to 582 MT now, reports PTI.

“We have written to the Centre for giving the surplus oxygen to other states,” Deputy Chief Minister Sisodia says. “We are a responsible government.”

12.30 pm: Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia says the Capital reported 10,400 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and that the positivity rate is now at 14%, according to PTI.

11.57 am: Maharashtra government extends the lockdown-like restrictions in the state till 7 am on June 1 to contain the spread of the coronavirus infection, reports the Hindustan Times. The government has also made it mandatory to carry a negative RT-PCR report to enter the state through any mode of transportation.

11.20 am: The National Immunization Technical Advisory Group, an advisory committee, recommends increasing the gap between the two doses of Covishield to 12-16 weeks, reports PTI, citing unidentified officials. The panel does not reccomend any changes in the dosage interval for Covaxin.

10.58 am: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says that are left to compete against each other in the international market for vaccines. “UP fighting Maha[rashtra], Maha[rashtra] fighting Orissa [Odisha], Orissa fighting Delhi,” tweets Kejriwal. “Where is “India? Portrays such a bad image of India. India, as one country, should procure vaccines on behalf of all Indian states.”

He says that when the country will approach vaccine manufacturers as “India” rather than individual states, its bargaining power will be much more. “Indian government has much more diplomatic space to negotiate with their countries,” Kejriwal adds.

10.55 am: Taking a dig at the Centre, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi says that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also missing along with coronavirus vaccines, oxygen and drugs. “All that remains are Central Vista, GST [Goods and Services Tax] on medicines and photo of PM here and there,” he tweets.

10.54 am: A special train carrying oxygen reaches Faridabad from Odisha’s Angul district.

10.52 am: Jammu and Kashmir’s Financial Commissioner of Health and Medical Education Atal Dulloo says the administration has started 26 oxygen generation plants that have a combined capacity of 25,000 litres per minute, reports ANI. “In the coming days, we’ll install 52 more plants with a capacity of 48,000 litres/minute,” he adds.

10.47 am: The Centre says that media reports suggesting that the government supplied ventilators to GGS Medical College and Hospital in Punjab’s Faridkot are lying unused as a result of technical glitches are unfounded and do not have full information.

“With reference to the recent media report regarding 71 of 80 AGVA made ventilators being non-functional or faulty at the GGS Medical College and Hospital, Faridkot, Punjab it is clarified that 88 Ventilators have been supplied by Bharat Electronics Limited and five by AGVA [a healthcare facility],” the health ministry says. “After successful installation and commissioning, these Ventilators were provided with Final Acceptance Certificate by the hospital authorities.”

10.44 am: Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan says that his government will give Rs 5,000 per month to children, who have lost their parents or guardians in the coronavirus pandemic, reports ANI. “We’ll also arrange free education for these children and free ration for these families,” he says.

10.41 am: Drugs Controller General of India approves Phase 2/3 clinical trial for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin in the age group of 2 to 18 years. Bharat Biotech will conduct the trials on 525 healthy volunteers.

9.32 am: India reports 3,62,727 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally in the country to 2,37,03,665 since the pandemic broke out in January last year, shows government data. With 4,120 deaths, the toll climbed to 2,58,317.

Coronavirus numbers on Thursday (Source: Health ministry)

8.36 am: Madhya Pradesh decides to set up special wards to treat mucormycosis, or “black fungus”, after 50 cases of the post-Covid complication were reported in the state, according to News18.

A case of the fungal infection has been reported in a 52-year old woman in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur also, reports ANI. Cases of “black fungus” have already been detected in Maharashtra and Gujarat, leading to at least eight deaths.

8.32 am: Fifty-seven United States congressmen have written to the country’s President Joe Biden, urging him to bolster America’s Covid-19 related assistance to India, reports PTI.

8.30 am: Concerned over the spread of Covid-19 in the rural areas, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has sought a report from Punjab and Haryana governments detailing steps being taken to combat the virus in rural belt, reports The Indian Express.

8.28 am: Flights carrying medical supplies reach India from Indonesia, Germany and Finland, reports ANI.

8.19 am: Here are the top updates from Wednesday:

  • India registered 3,48,421 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally of infections to 2,33,40,938 since the pandemic broke out in the country in January last year. The toll witnessed the highest single-day rise as it went up by 4,205 deaths to 2,54,197.
  • The Union Health Ministry objected to media reports calling the infectious B.1.617 coronavirus strain the “Indian variant”, saying even the World Health Organization had not used the term in its guidelines.
  • The Bombay High Court expressed its disappointment at the Centre for refusing to start door-to-door Covid vaccinations for senior citizens.
  • The Delhi government said people under the age of 45 will not get Covaxin shots from Thursday as supplies run short. It added that stocks of Covaxin will last for next four days and those have to be reserved for frontline workers and those above 45.