10.59 pm: Telangana registers 1,061 new cases of the coronavirus, 1,556 recoveries and 11 deaths in a day, reports ANI.

10.58 pm: Goa records 222 new Covid-19 cases, 277 recoveries and five deaths in the last 24 hours, reports ANI.

10.13 pm: Maharashtra records 9,677 new Covid-19 cases, taking the state’s infection tally to 60,17,035 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020, reports the Hindustan Times. With 156 deaths, the toll climbs to 1,20,370.

10.12 pm: Thane and Palghar districts in Maharashtra have been placed under category three of the state government’s five-level plan to ease curbs on the basis of Covid-19 positivity rate and oxygen bed occupancy levels, reports PTI, citing an official.

10.11 pm: Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa directs officials to maintain vigil over the Delta plus variant of coronavirus, especially in border districts and subject those arriving in the state from Maharashtra and Kerala to tests, reports PTI.

10.09 pm: The police in Thane say a case was registered in Naupada in connection with the organisation of a unauthorised Covid-19 vaccination camp, reports PTI.

10.07 pm: Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration Minister Rajendra Shingne says that as many as 50 lakh people, including 5 lakh children, could be infected in the state in the possible third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, reports PTI.

9.59 pm: The Tamil Nadu government extends the coronavirus lockdown in the state till July 5 but allows relaxations of certain restrictions, reports News18. The government allows shopping malls, places of worship, apparel, jewellery shops and gyms to open for Chennai and a few other districts.

9.08 pm: The Centre says pregnant women can be vaccinated against coronavirus, reports NDTV. “The Ministry of Health has given guidelines that the vaccine can be given to the pregnant woman,” says Indian Council of Medical Research Director-General Dr Balram Bhargava. “The vaccine is useful for the pregnant woman and it should be given.”

9.07 pm: Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan writes to the chief secretaries of Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir and Haryana to step up containment and contact tracing to prevent the spread of Delta Plus variant.

9.06 pm: Telangana logs 1,061 new cases and 11 deaths in the last 24 hours.

8.59 pm: Bangladesh reports 108 deaths on Friday, the second highest single-day toll since the pandemic’s outbreak in the country. Authorities are considering imposing a strict nationwide shutdown for 14 days. “We are ready to enforce the shutdown anytime,” Junior Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain says. “It [lockdown] will be tougher than that of last year.”

8.48 pm: The Tamil Nadu government has relaxed lockdown restrictions as it eases curbs for outdoor activity, reports News18.

7.08 pm: The first case of Delta plus variant of the coronavirus has been reported from Rajasthan and Odisha, reports News18.

7.06 pm: A video of a nurse administering an empty dose of Covid -19 vaccine in haste is making round on social media. The clip shows the nurse taking out the disposable syringe from the wrapper and pushing it on the man’s arm. She is never seen filling the syringe from a vial of Covid-19 vaccine.

7.04 pm: Andhra Pradesh records 4,458 new coronavirus cases, 6,313 recoveries and 38 deaths in the last 24 hours, reports ANI.

7.01 pm: Union Minister of Finance Anurag Thakur says that ex-gratia payment by employers or by any person to the family of a resident who died of Covid-19 in Financial Year 2019-’20 or subsequent year will be tax exempted, reports ANI. He adds that an ex-gratia from any other person will be restricted to Rs 10 Lakh.

6.59 pm: Delhi reports 115 new coronavirus cases, pushing the infection tally in the national Capital to 14,33,590, reports ANI. The toll climbs to four to 24,952. The positivity rate stands at 0.15%.

6.51 pm: Union health ministry warns that the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic is not over, reports PTI.

5.12 pm: Bhargava says the spread of the Delta plus variant is very localised. He adds that the government is working to ascertain if the vaccines work against his variant and it will be known in 7-10 days.

5.07 pm: Indian Council of Medical Research Director General Balram Bhargava says the reduction in the neutralising capabilities of Covaxin and Covishield is less than Pfizer and Moderna vaccines against Delta variant, based on global data. He says the reduction in Covaxin is three times and for Covishield is two times. For Pfizer, it is 7-10 times and seven times for Moderna. He, however, adds that the antibody response of vaccines can be much higher, so that reduction in neutralising capabilities may be different for each vaccine.

5.04 pm: Indian Council of Medical Research Director General Balram Bhargava says that there are 16 countries where there are more than 25% of Delta variant cases, including India, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia.

4.45 pm: The Union health ministry says that 48 cases of Delta plus variant have been found from 45,000 samples that were genome sequenced. The variant was reported from 10 states and one Union Territory, including Maharashtra (20), Tamil Nadu (9), Madhya Pradesh (7).

4.43 pm: The Union health ministry says that around 50 cases of Delta plus variant have been found in India.

4.40 pm: The Union health ministry says 16,239 cases of Delta and Kappa variant have been found in India. It adds that the proportion of variants of concern rose from 10.31% in May to 51% as of June 20.

4.37 pm: The Union health ministry says the Delta variant has replaced the alpha variant, showing the former is a stronger variant than the latter.

4.36 pm: Variants of concerns found in districts of Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab, Telangana, West Bengal and Punjab, says health ministry.

4.32 pm: Union health ministry says that variant of concerns have been found in 174 districts as of June 21.

4.30 pm: Union health ministry holds briefing on Covid-19.


4.25 pm: The Indian Medical Association says 776 doctors have died during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, reports ANI. It says that the maximum number of deaths were recorded in Bihar at 115, followed by Delhi at 109.

4.06 pm: Serum Institute of India says it has begun production of the first batch of Covovax, a coronavirus vaccine developed by biotechnology company Novavax.

3.16 pm: Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane says the government will ensure “stringent monitoring” along the borders of the state to stay protected from the spread of the Delta Plus variant of coronavirus, reports PTI.

3.14 pm: Bharatiya Janata Party West Bengal unit General Secretary Sayantan Basu demands Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry in a fake Covid-19 vaccination drive case in Kolkata, reports ANI.

3.05 pm: An 80-year old with co-morbidities, who was infected by the Delta Plus variant of coronavirus, has died in Maharashtra, says state Health Minister Rajesh Tope, reports ANI. Tope says the state has so far detected 21 cases of the Delta Plus variant.

Reports suggest this is the first death in Maharashtra due to the mutant strain of coronavirus.

2.02 pm: The Mumbai Police arrest eight more people in connection with an unauthorised vaccination camp at Hiranandani Estate Society, ANI reports. The total number of arrests goes up to 10.

1.58 pm: Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accuses the Bharatiya Janata Party of “lying” about a report which suggests that the Aam Aadmi Party government exaggerated the demand for oxygen in the Capital during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The truth is that there is no such report,” Sisodia says. “The BJP leaders are lying...no such report exists. We spoke to a number of members of the Supreme Court panel who told us they have not signed and approved any report.”

1.55 pm: Israel reinstates its indoor mask-wearing rule after a surge in cases of the Delta variant of Covid-19, The Guardian reports.

12.01 pm: Philippines’ food and drug agency approves the emergency use of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin jab in the country, reports Reuters.

11.54 am: Congress MP Rahul Gandhi questions government’s strategy to tackle the Delta Plus variant of coronavirus.

“Questions to the Modi government on Delta Plus variant,” he says in a tweet in Hindi. “Why is testing not being done to detect and control the strain? When will we get complete information on vaccine efficacy on the variant? What is the plan to control the strain during the third wave?”

11.51 am: The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia, or INSACOG, which conducts genome sequencing of Covid-19 infections, will hold a weekly review meeting on Friday, ANI reports citing sources. The status and spread of the Delta Plus variant is likely to be discussed during the meeting.

10.45 am: The Gujarat government has made it mandatory for managers, owners and staff of business/professional establishments to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by June 30, reports The Indian Express. This applies to 18 cities and towns are under night curfew. The deadline for the rest of the state is July 10.

10.40 am: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hints that the United Kingdom is close to allowing fully vaccinated people to travel abroad without restrictions, reports Reuters.

“I think that the whole double jab process is offering the real prospect of opening up to travel, and we’ll be setting out a bit more later on,” Johnson tells reporters.

10.33 am: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath accuses “some people” of spreading misinformation during the second wave of pandemic in the state, reports The Indian Express. “People even went to the extent of saying that Covid-19 was out of control in Uttar Pradesh,” he adds.

Adityanath’s government faced severe criticism for failing to tackle the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic effectively. Images of bodies of Covid patients floating in rivers or buried in sand along riverbeds had triggered outrage. Several BJP ministers and MLAs have also voiced grievances against their own government.

10.30 am: India says Covid-19 vaccine exports would depend on the country’s domestic needs, reports PTI.

“For the moment our priority remains on utilising made-in-India vaccines for our own vaccination programme which as you know has received a boost with the new phase of vaccination that was launched earlier this week on June 21,” says Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.

9.24 am: India reports 51,667 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of infections since the outbreak of the pandemic in January 2020 to 3,01,34,445. The country’s toll rises by 1,329 to 3,93,310.

India’s tally of active cases stands at 6,12,868, while the number of recoveries reach 2,91,28,267.

Source: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

9.21 am: The Gujarat government orders businesses in cities under curfew to vaccinate their employees by June 30 or face shutdowns, The Indian Express reports. The deadline for businesses in the rest of the state is July 10.

9.18 am: The Centre says its priority is to utilise made-in-India vaccines for the country’s inoculation drive, PTI reports.

9.14 am: Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro claims his government never paid for or received doses of Bharat Biotech’s vaccine, amid allegations of irregularities in the deal, Reuters reports.

9.10 am: Groups most vulnerable to Covid-19 infection, such as the elderly, will need annual vaccine boosters for protection against variants, the World Health Organization estimates, according to Reuters.

8.45 am: Globally, the coronavirus disease has infected over 17.99 crore people and killed more than 38.98 lakh since the pandemic broke out in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University.

8.40 am: Maharashtra on Thursday recorded a grim milestone as Covid-19 cases tally in the state crossed the 60-lakh mark. The caseload stood at 60,07,431 after the state registered 9,844 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. With 197 deaths, the toll climbed to 1,19,859.

Here are the top updates from Thursday:

  1. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer said its coronavirus vaccine was highly effective, around 90%, against the Delta variant of Covid-19, reported Reuters.
  2. The Meghalaya High Court held that forceful or mandatory vaccination violates the fundamental right to livelihood. The bench cited several court orders to highlight that vaccination by force has been discouraged. The bench’s order also highlighted matters concerning bodily autonomy.
  3. Ratings agency S&P Global Ratings lowered India’s growth forecast for the financial year 2021-2022, to 9.5%, from the earlier projected 11%. The ratings agency lowered the growth projection as a result of the lockdowns imposed in several states amid the second wave of Covid-19 in April and May.
  4. The Andhra Pradesh government cancelled the state board examinations for Class 10 and 12 after the Supreme Court reprimanded it for planning to go ahead with the tests. The court had said that the state government would be held responsible if anyone died due to the infection.
  5. The Supreme Court also directed states that have cancelled Class 12 exams to formulate an internal assessment scheme within 10 days and declare results by July 31.
  6. Brazilian federal prosecutors have begun investigation into a contract by the country’s health ministry to buy 20 million (2 crore) doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by India’s Bharat Biotech. The comparatively high prices for Covaxin, which had not cleared regulatory hurdles, drew prosecutors’ attention to the deal signed in February.
  7. Congress leader Sonia Gandhi asked the party’s general secretaries to raise awareness amid hesitancy to get vaccinated against Covid-19.