9 pm: Here is a look at Covid-19 daily figures of a few states:

  • Punjab: 3,724 new cases, 6,797 recoveries and 148 deaths
  • Karnataka: 22,823 new cases, 52,253 recoveries and 401 deaths
  • Gujarat: 2,521 new cases, 7,965 recoveries and 27 deaths.

8.55 pm: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says the government has paid Rs 4,500 crores were paid to two vaccine manufacturers as advance payment, reports ANI. “The country is engaging with suppliers/manufacturers including the Japanese and European Union for vaccines,” she says. “In the coming months, supply will be more than what it is.”

8.49 pm: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says that Goods and Services Tax Council has given adhoc exemptions to coronavirus-related equipment, reports ANI. “The council has decided to exempt the import of many of these items with exemption extended to August 31, 2021,” she says.

Sitharaman adds that Amphotericin-B, the drug used to treat mucormycosis, or “black fungus”, has also been included in the exemption list.

7.53 pm: The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court criticises Centre for defending “defective ventilator manufacturer” Jyoti CNC and claiming that the doctors and paramedics are not properly trained to handle the ventilators, reports Live Law.

The High Court asked the Union health ministry to refrain from questioning the reports of medical experts. “We are unable to accept the contentions of the ASGI [additional solicitors general of India] that the ventilators are in perfect operating conditions, and it is the hospitals who do not have trained personnel to operate them properly,” the court said. “The affidavit before us has a semblance of virtually defending the manufacturer and declaring the ventilators are in immaculate condition.”

7.46 pm: The total number of coronavirus cases in Madhya Pradesh climbs to 7,75,709 after the state logs 1854 new infections, reports ANI. With 63 deaths, the toll climbs to 7,891.

7.42 pm: Himachal Pradesh registers 1,523 new coronavirus cases, 3,148 recoveries and 64 deaths in the last 24 hours, reports ANI.

6.48 pm: Tamil Nadu extends lockdown till June 7, ANI reports. The government permits delivery of groceries between 7 am and 6 pm, and adds that the supply of groceries will continue through government departments and can be sold via vehicles or on pushcarts.

6.39 pm: The Apollo Group says it will begin administering the Sputnik V vaccine across its hospitals from the second week of June, ANI reports. One shot of the vaccine will cost Rs 1,195. “We will be charging Rs 995 for the vaccine and Rs 200 would be administration charges,” an official from the Apollo Group says.

6.27 pm: A petition in the Delhi High Court has sought directions to immediately vaccinate children aged between 12 and 17 before India is faced with a third wave, PTI reports.

The court issued notices to the Centre and the Delhi government and listed the matter for June 4.

6.25 pm: Kerala says it will provide Covid vaccination certificates along with passport numbers to those who need it to travel abroad, ANI reports.

6.20 pm: The Election Commission defers biennial polls to the legislative councils of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana due to the pandemic, ANI reports.

6.17 pm: Bharat Biotech says it takes 120 days to manufacture, test and the release a batch of Covaxin, ANi reports. The company adds that the production batches that were started in March will be ready for supply only in June.

6.13 pm: Andhra Pradesh reports 14,429 new cases and 103 deaths. The state now has a. total of 16,57,986 infections while the toll is 10,634.

6.10 pm: The United Kingdom approves the single-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, AFP reports.

“This is a further boost to the UK’s hugely successful vaccination programme, which has already saved over 13,000 lives, and means that we now have four safe and effective vaccines approved to help protect people from this awful virus,” says Health Secretary Matt Hancock. England has ordered 20 million doses of the vaccine.

The other vaccines in use in the UK are those manufactured by Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

6.07 pm: Chandigarh imposes a weekend curfew from May 29 to May 31, ANI reports.

6.05 pm: Delhi reports 1,141 new coronavirus cases and 139 deaths in a day.

6.02 pm: The Supreme Court directs districts to take care of the basic needs of children who have been orphaned after losing their parents to the coronavirus disease, ANI reports.

6 pm: Election Commission says that “due to the outbreak of second COVID-19 wave in the country, it would not be appropriate” to hold the bye-election to the council of states of Kerala, ANI reports. The election will be deferred till the situation improves.

4 pm: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation says international passengers flights will remain suspended till June 30. In a circular, it adds that the restrictions will not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights approved by the aviation regulator.

3.55 pm: The Union health ministry says the Centre has issued guidelines for making operational Covid-19 vaccination centres nearer to the home of elderly and differently-abled. In a statement, the ministry says the special vaccination centres will follow “a community-based, flexible and people-centric approach”.

3.51 pm: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra says that at the Goods and Services Tax Council meeting, the government should remove GST from medicines and equipment being used to fight Covid-19. “Imposing GST on essential medical products like oxygen, ventilators, vaccines and medicines during a pandemic is cruel and insensitive,” she adds.

3.41 pm: Union Minister Prakash Javadekar says that the coronavirus vaccination process in India will be completed by December, reports ANI. His remarks came after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged that the government does not have a vaccination strategy.

2.18 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi calls Prime Minister Narendra Modi an event manager and says that he does not think strategically. He says that the problem is that there is no vaccination strategy.

Gandhi says that the government is not understanding the nature of the problem it is fighting. “You’re [Modi] creating a liability for the whole planet. Why?” he asks. “Because you are allowing 97% of the population to be attacked by the virus as only 3% are vaccinated.”

2.15 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi says lockdowns and wearing masks is temporary measures against Covid-19 but vaccination is a permanent solution, reports ANI. He says that his party warned the Centre about the coronavirus repeatedly.

“The prime minister’s ‘nautanki’ [drama] is the reason behind the second wave of Covid-19 in India,” Gandhi says. “He did not understand Covid-19. India’s death rate is a lie. The government should tell the truth.”

2.11 pm: The Odisha government extends the deadline of the global tender floated for procurement of Covid-19 vaccines by one week, reports ANI.

2.08 pm: Apollo Hospitals authorities say they will begin to offer the antibody cocktail of casirivimab and imdevimab drugs to patients with mild and moderate coronavirus cases and at high risk of developing severe Covid-19, reports ANI.

1.39 pm: The chief minister adds that if the Covid-19 infections rise again, restrictions may have to be enforced again. “Do not step out of your homes unless absolutely necessary,” Kejriwal says. “Let’s make sure everyone is safe.”

1.38 pm: Kejriwal says the decision was taken to make sure that the poor are able to earn a living.

1.34 pm: Delhi will begin the process of easing restrictions from Monday (May 31), announces Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

12.55 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is speaking to reporters about the coronavirus situation in India.

11.13 am: India says that the World Health Organization convened global study on the origin of Covid-19 is an “important first step”.

“It stressed the need for next phase studies as also for further data and studies to reach robust conclusions,” the statement reads. “The follow up of the WHO report and further studies deserve the understanding and cooperation of all.”

11.11 am: The Delhi High Court has issued notices to the Centre and others on a plea seeking direction to immediately vaccinate children between 12 and 17 years in Delhi and prioritise vaccination among parents with children up to 17 years old, reports ANI.

11.09 am: Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan says the Covid-19 crisis has posed a great hurdle to development in the state, reports PTI.

11.08 am: Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that the country will begin offering coronavirus vaccine shots to children above 12 years old from June 7, reports AFP.

11.07 am: China has criticised US’ efforts to carry on investigation on whether Covid-19 originated in a Chinese laboratory, reports BBC.

11.06 am: Eight Asiatic lions at Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park have now completely recovered from Covid-19, zoo officials said on Thursday, reported the Hindustan Times.

11.04 am: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking intervention in handing over the Integrated Vaccine Complex in Chengalpattu to his administration to help in mass production of Covid-19 vaccines, reports The News Minute.

11.01 pm: Over 100 cases of multi-organ inflammatory syndrome in children have emerged in north India in the last five days as a post-Covid reaction, reports ANI, citing the Indian Academy of Pediatric Intensive Care.

11 pm: Andhra Pradesh postpones Class 10 board exams, scheduled from June 7 to June 16, amid the coronavirus crisis, reports The News Minute.

10.59 am: Kerala’s Minister for General Education V Sivankutty announced on Thursday that the new academic year for government and government-aided schools will begin on June 1 through online classes, reports The News Minute.

10.57 am: After Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh joins the list of states disputing the Centre’s data on Covid-19 vaccine wastage, reports NDTV.

10.55 am: Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has declared mucormycosis or “black fungus” as an epidemic in the Capital, reports NDTV.

10.54 am: The Apollo Hospitals will begin administering Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V from the second week of June, the group has said, reports ANI.

10.50 am: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday inspected the health institutions in Rajouri, Poonch and Reasi districts of Jammu and Kashmir, reported PTI.

10.50 am: A top United States official says India’s Covid-19 surge affected the global supply of Covax so badly that in many parts of the world only one shot has been dispensed to frontline workers, reports PTI.

“The Serum Institute of India, which had planned to supply upwards of 140 million doses by the end of June, has had to pull back that supply because of the domestic emergency,” Samantha Power, administrator of the US Agency for International Development, says.

10.47 am: The Congress-led Rajasthan government will move the Supreme Court for directions to the Centre to float global tenders for procuring Covid-19 vaccines, reports The Hindu. The state stopped vaccinating its residents due to lack of shots on Thursday.

10.46 am: The Indian government hopes for a swift launch of Russia’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik Light. All stakeholders have been instructed to speed up the application and regulatory approval processes for the shots, reports The Indian Express.

10.44 am: The Centre has told the Madras High Court that the demand for anti-fungal drug liposomal amphotericin-B, used to treat mucormycosis or “black fungus” has gone beyond the supplies that led to regulating the supply to states, reports The Hindu.

10.41 am: The Andhra Pradesh government has given ex-gratia payments to families of 23 Covid-19 patients who died at the Sri Venkata Ramnarayan Ruia Hospital in Tirupati earlier in May, reports the Hindustan Times.

9.49 am: India reports 1,86,364 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the overall tally to 2,75,55,457 since the pandemic first broke out in January 2020. The toll rises by 3,660 to 31,88,95, while the active caseload stands at 23,43,152.

(Source: Health ministry)

9.21 am: More than 20.7 lakh samples (20,70,508) were tested across the country on Thursday to detect cases of coronavirus, says the Indian Council of Medical Research.

9.11 am: The Indian Medical Association has lodged a police complaint against yoga guru Ramdev, seeking a First Information Report over his “dishonest and wrongful representations” on allopathy, reports PTI.

Read more here:

IMA files police complaint against Ramdev for spreading false information on allopathic medicines

9.08 am: The Supreme Court will hear a plea on Friday seeking directions to the Centre, Central Board of Secondary Education and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination to cancel the CBSE and ICSE board exams for Class 12 amid the pandemic, reports ANI.

9.02 am: Here are the top updates from Thursday:

  • India reported 2,11,298 new cases, taking the overall tally to 2,73,69,093 since the pandemic first broke out in January 2020. The toll rose by 3,847 to 3,15,235, while the active caseload stood at 24,19,907.
  • The Centre dismissed a report in The New York Times that claimed that India’s toll was probably around 42 lakh as “baseless and false”. The analysis by the newspaper also showed that the total coronavirus infections in the country could be around 70.07 crore.
  • The government said that a mix-up of coronavirus vaccine doses was unlikely to cause any significant adverse effects. The statement was in response to reports that 20 villagers in Uttar Pradesh’s Siddharthnagar district were administered one dose of Covishield and a second dose of Covaxin during vaccinations against Covid-19.
  • The Delhi High Court ordered that customs departments should clear the import of Amphotericin-B, the drug used to treat mucormycosis or “black fungus”, by accepting a bond from the importer without actual payment of import duty, till the Centre makes a final decision on a waiver.