8.50 pm: NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul says children are getting infected but are experiencing mild symptoms. He adds that the task is to ensure that they don’t become a part of the chain of transmission.

8.36 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi criticises Prime Minister Narendra Modi, says his response is to cry when the highest number of Covid deaths are taking place in India and there are no vaccines.

8.33 pm: All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director Dr Randeep Guleria says patients recovering from the coronavirus should get tested for black fungus if they experience a persistent headache or swelling on one side of the face, NDTV reports.

8.29 pm: Three cyrogenic oxygen tankers from Thailand land in Hyderabad.

8.22 pm: Here’s a look at cases reported by the states on Saturday evening:

West Bengal: 18,863 new cases, 154 deaths; total cases now 12,48,668, while toll is 14,208.

Karnataka: 31,183 new cases, 451 deaths; total cases now 23,98,925; while toll is 24,658.

7.50 pm: Indiscriminate use of steroids has led to the surge in black fungus cases in India, says an internist. Read more here.

7.48 pm: A new study by the United Kingdom has found that two vaccine doses offer strong protection against the variant of the coronavirus first detected in India, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.

The UK government’s data showed that two doses offered 81% protection against the B.1.617.2 variant, while a single dose offered only 33%, the newspaper reported, quoting two unidentified officials who attended a meeting where these figures were presented.

Read more here:

Two vaccine doses offer strong protection against Covid variant first detected in India: FT report

7.40 pm: Here’s a look at cases reported by other states on Saturday evening:

Andhra Pradesh: 19,981 new cases, 118 deaths; total cases now 15,62,060, while toll is 10,022;

Puducherry: 1,445 new cases, 30 deaths; total cases now 94,612, toll rises to 1,325;

Rajasthan: 6,103 cases, 115 deaths; total infections now 9,09,521, while toll up to 7,590;

Telangana: 3,308 cases, 21 deaths; total tally over 5.51 lakh cases, toll now 3,106.

7.15 pm: Madhya Pradesh will ease restrictions from June, PTI reports.

“Our target is to free our state of Covid-19 by May 31,” Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan says. “We will have to unlock the coronavirus-induced-curfew gradually from June 1. The world has to move but we will need to unlock in such a manner that COVID-19 doesn’t spread again.”

7.05 pm: The Mizoram government extends the lockdown in Aizawl and other district headquarters by another 7 days. Initially imposed from May 10 to May 24, it will now be in place till May 31.

6.58 pm: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan says the triple lockdown in Malappuram district will continue, ANI reports. “Restrictions will be tightened as test positivity rate is high,” he says. “We’ll conduct tests among 75,000 people on Monday and Tuesday. More police force will be deployed, directed them to take strict action against violators.”

6.55 pm: Kerala reports 28,514 new cases and 176 deaths in a day, ANI reports. The state now has a total of 7,170 deaths and 2,89,283 active cases.

6.53 pm: The curfew imposed in Jammu and Kashmir till May 24 is extended till May 31, ANI reports.

6.50 pm: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy asks the Centre to make vaccine stocks available only to government hospitals. He claims that private hospitals are charging exorbitant amounts, ANI reports.

5.03 pm: When asked if a person who has received one vaccine dose can also take a shot of another vaccine, Niti Aayog member VK Paul says it is scientifically and theoretically possible. However, he adds that it is an evolving situation and there is no scientific evidence to support this theory yet. “Only time will tell,” he adds.

4.45 pm: Niti Aayog member VK Paul says the pandemic is stabilising in most of the country, ANI reports. “Positivity rate is going down & active cases are going down,” he says.

4.30 pm: Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar says the state has appointed a committee to find out the exact source of the black fungus infection. “We’ve received initial report, now we’re giving directions, issuing a circular to use only distilled water in humidifiers that are used in concentrators & ICU facilities,” he tells ANI.

He adds: “Similarly, the use of steroids on patients who are diabetic or have comorbidities should be properly monitored and at the time of the discharge, a thorough check-up should be done by faculty members of medicine, ENT and give a proper report.”

4.20 pm: Lav Agarwal, the joint secretary in the Union health ministry, says only seven states are reporting over 10,000 cases a day, ANI reports. Six states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Delhi are reporting high deaths, he adds.

4.10 pm: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav asks the Uttar Pradesh government to stop playing politics and start health centres to save lives amid the coronavirus crisis.

4.06 pm: Chhattisgarh is now issuing vaccination certificates with Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel’s photo, the Hindustan Times reports.

Health Minister TS Singh Deo says there should be no objection to Baghel’s photo on the certificates since the state government is funding vaccination for the 18-44 age group. “When the Centre is using PM Modi’s photograph for the vaccination certificates, which they are funding, why can’t a state government use the photograph of CM which the state is funding?” he says, according to the newspaper.

4.03 pm: The Indian Medical Association demands action against Yoga guru Ramdev for his remarks on allopathy. The association cites a video where Ramdev reportedly called allopathy a “stupid science”.

3.58 pm: A British Airways flight carrying 18 tonnes in medical aid lands in India.

3.39 pm: The Indian Army sets up a 100-bed Covid care facility for mild cases at Ulsoor in Bengaluru, ANI reports.

3.37 pm: Union minister Prakash Javadekar criticises Congress leader Kamal Nath for allegedly calling the strain of the coronavirus first found in India the “Indian corona”, ANI reports.

3.35 pm: Delhi reports 2,260 new coronavirus cases and 182 fatalities in a day. As many as 63,155 tests were conducted. The positivity rate drops to 3.58%. This is the lowest one-day rise in cases in the Capital since March 31, PTI reports.

The national Capital now has a total of 14,15,219 cases and 23,013 deaths since the pandemic outbreak in January 2020.

3.33 pm: A court in Delhi rejects the police plea seeking five more days of custodial interrogation of Navneet Kalra, the businessman arrested in connection with the hoarding and alleged black marketing of oxygen concentrators, PTI reports.

3.30 pm: Officials in Maharashtra’s Raigad have established a task force to take care of children whose parents died due to the coronavirus, PTI reports.

2.59 pm: Congress President Sonia Gandhi writes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the shortage of Amphotericin-B, the drug used to treat black fungus, and urges him to take immediate action in the matter.

2.57 pm: The Ministry of Education will hold a meeting on Sunday to decide on the pending Class 12 board exams that were postponed because of the coronavirus, PTI reports.

2.55 pm: The curfew in Bhopal is extended till June 1, PTI reports.

2.47 pm: Tamil Nadu extends its lockdown for another week from May 24, The Hindu reports. This will be followed by another week-long lockdown with some relaxation.

1.23 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says vaccination for the 18-44 category has been halted in the national Capital from today. “Vaccine stock for this category has been consumed,” he adds. “Due to this, their vaccination centres have been shut. Only a few vaccines are available at some centres which will be administered today.”

1.21 pm: Mizoram reports 292 new fresh infections, tally rises to 10,024.

1.20 pm: Arunachal Pradesh reports highest single-day spike of 394 coronavirus cases.

1.18 pm: Puducherry logs 1,445 fresh coronavirus cases, taking its infection tally to 94,612. The toll rises to 1,325 with 30 additional deaths.

1.16 pm: More than 1.60 crore vaccine doses are available with states and Union Territories, says the health ministry. Over 2.67 lakh doses will be supplied to them in the next three day.

1.15 pm: A 68-year-old woman undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Tripura has been infected with mucormycosis or “black fungus”, says Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath, according to PTI. The Tripura government has declared mucormycosis a notifiable disease under Epidemic Disease Act.

10.59 am: The Uttarakhand government issued an SOP for the prevention and black marketing of Amphotericin-B, a medicine to treat black fungus. The drug will be available only in dedicated Covid-19 Health Care Center Medical Colleges and in state government institutions.

10.56 am: Leh extends “corona curfew” till June 7.

10.55 am: 420 doctors, including 100 in Delhi, have lost their lives due to coronavirus in the second wave of the infection, says the Indian Medical Association.

10.54 am: Ladakh registers 121 new cases, 110 recoveries and one death.

10.52 am: QR code on RT-PCR reports is now a must for passengers flying out of India from today. “The airline operators are advised to accept only those passengers who are carrying a negative RT-PCR test report with QR code for boarding international flights departing from India after 0001 hours on 22nd May 2021,” the civil aviation ministry had said in a release last week.

10.48 am: The Uttar Pradesh government has begun collating district-wise data of “unidentified dead bodies or unclaimed corpses” fished out or recovered from Ganga and its tributaries across the state, reports The Indian Express.

10.45 am: The All India Association of Chemists and Druggists has threatened that is 9.4 lakh members will “join the lockdown”, demanding to be vaccination, reports The Times of India. Despite all the danger, every chemist is continuously providing service to the country,” said JS Shinde and Rajiv Singhal, the president and the general secretary of the association. “Dispensing and distribution of medicine are just as important as the work of doctors, nurses, hospital staff and sanitisation workers. It was logical to vaccinate frontline workers but despite repeated appeals, chemists were sidelined for no reason. Since March 2020, more than 650 chemists and pharmacists have lost their lives to Covid-19 infection.”

10.40 am: In Ludhiana’s Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, four newborns have been found to be infected with coronavirus, reports The Indian Express. Their samples were collected for testing within 24 hours of their birth.

The babies were born to women who had tested positive for the virus.

A neonatologist from DMCH said these cases were the first of their kind amid the second wave. He added that the new strain might be the reason behind suspected transmission of the infection from the mother’s placenta to the baby.

10.37 am: Canada extends flight ban from India and Pakistan until June 21.

9.30 am: Chhattisgarh replaces the photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with that of its Chief Minister Bhupesh Bagel on the Covid-19 vaccine certificates, reports The Times of India. Earlier, Jharkhand made a similar move.

“I don’t think there should be any issue on that,” Chhattisgarh Health Minister TS Singh Deo tells the newspaper. “When Government of India was providing the money and they had the Prime Minister’s photograph. If the state government is doing something, then we will use the chief minister’s photograph instead. When the Centre has left it on the states to bear the financial burden and the state governments are procuring their own vaccines, why should they not issue their own vaccine certificates? Why should the vaccine certificates carry the photo of PM Narendra Modi?”

9.22 am: India registers 2,57,299 new cases and 4,194 deaths in the last 24 hours. With this, the country’s tally rises to 2,62,89,290 while the toll climbs to 2,95,525 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020.

9.21 am: Dr Suresh Kumar, the medical director of Delhi’s LNJP Hospital, says white fungus is not as dangerous as the black one, reports ANI. He advises people to wash masks daily and avoid consuming eatables refrigerated for days. “Fungus grows in cramped and humid spaces so keep ensure that your surroundings are cleaned regularly,” Kumar adds.

9.18 am: As many as 20,66,285 samples were tested in India on Friday, says the Indian Council of Medical Research.

9.16 am: China reports 10 new Covid-19 cases on May 21, down from 24 cases a day earlier.

9.15 am: More than 8 lakh migrant workers travelled from Delhi to their home states between April 19 and May 4, Hindustan Times reports citing a report by the Delhi government.

“The timely coordination with transport authorities of neighbouring states especially Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand by the Delhi government has helped about eight lakh migrant workers reach their destination without any difficulty,” reads the report by the transport department. “There was no complaint of overcharging as the interstate buses were owned and operated by the respective state governments.”

9.11 am: Maharashtra’s Thane district adds 887 new coronavirus cases to its tally. The district’s toll rises by 61, reports PTI.

9.10 am: The Mumbai Police arrest a 28-year-old man for allegedly hoarding oxygen cylinders and kits.

9.08 am: A 17-year-old boy died on Friday in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao district after he was allegedly thrashed in police custody for violating curfew in the state, reports NDTV. Two police constables have been suspended and a case registered against them. A home guard has also been dismissed from service.

9.06 am: German Chancellor Angela Merkel relaxes restrictions but asks residents to be cautious, reports AP. Beer gardens, cafes and restaurants are now open to customers provided they present a negative COVID-19 test or a vaccination certificate.

“We can be glad that [infection rates] have declined so far in recent days and in the last two weeks that we can think about opening steps,” says Merkel. “I hope that, after the long time with closures and opportunities they didn’t have, that people will treat these opportunities very responsibly. The virus has not disappeared.”

9.03 am: Here are the top updates from Friday

  • India recorded 2,59,551 new coronavirus cases, pushing the infection tally to 2,60,31,991 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. The toll climbed by 4,209 to 2,91,331. 
  • Karnataka on Friday extended its lockdown till June 7, while Kerala extended the restrictions till May 30 as the cases in the states continued to rise.
  • The International Monetary Fund has predicted that under the existing scenario of coronavirus vaccine supply, India will be able to inoculate 33% of its population by the end of this year. The economic body made the prediction in a document released on May 19, detailing how a $50 billion investment plan could vaccinate all eligible adults across the world by the middle of 2022.
  • The Uttar Pradesh government joined the list of states to have declared mucormycosis, or “black fungus” as a notifiable disease. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that mucormycosis, or “black fungus”, was a rare infection that has sprung up in patients recovering from the coronavirus, and has emerged as a new challenge in India’s fight against the pandemic.
  • The Supreme Court on Friday said that High Courts should avoid passing orders that are “impossible to implement”. A division bench of Justices Vineet Saran and BR Gavai made the observation while putting a stay on directions issued by the Allahabad High Court earlier this week in relation to Covid-19 management in Uttar Pradesh.
  • The number of Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction, or RT-PCR, tests for the coronavirus will be reduced to 40% of the total tests by the end of June, the Centre said. An RT-PCR test is considered to be the “gold standard” for Covid-19 screening.
  • Globally, the coronavirus has now infected over 16.52 crore people and killed over 34.25 lakh since the pandemic broke out in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University.