COVID-19 news update: Maharashtra, Delhi report drop in cases; Sputnik V vaccine launched at Rs 995-India News , Firstpost

However, states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram, and Nagaland saw a tightening of restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of infection.

Maharashtra and Delhi reported a marginal decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases on Friday, however, the nationwide toll remained at 4,000 for the third consecutive day. The total caseload rose by 3,43,144 new cases to 2,40,46,809. Meanwhile, West Bengal and Odisha were among the states that posted their highest single-day spike.

The National Capital, which has been one of the worst-hit cities in the second wave of the pandemic, recorded 8,506 new cases, which is the lowest since 10 April. The positivity rate also reduced to 12.40 percent from a high of 36 percent on 22 April.

In Maharashtra, the number of new COVID-19 cases dropped below 40,000 for the first time since 31 March. With 39,923 new cases on Friday, caseload rose to 53,09,215.

However, West Bengal on Friday registered its highest single-day spike of 20,846 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking the tally to 10,94,802, the health department said in
its bulletin. The toll rose to 12,993 after 136 more people succumbed to the disease, it said. At least 19,131 recoveries were recorded in the state since Thursday.
Accordingly, the number of active cases climbed to 1,31,792.

Odisha also registered its highest single-day spike of 12,390 new COVID-19 cases, which pushed the tally to 5,88,687, while a record number of 22 fatalities raised the toll to 2,273, a senior health department official said. Accordingly, the number of active cases climbed to 1,04,016, the official said.

However, states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram, and Nagaland saw a tightening of restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of infection.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced that the total statewide lockdown will be extended till 23 May, while the newly-elected DMK government in Tamil Nadu imposed a two-hour cut in the duration for vegetable and provision stores to remain open. The new curbs will come into effect in Tamil Nadu from Saturday.

The Mizoram government reportedly ordered a total lockdown in Aizawl and other district headquarters in the state till 24 May.

In Nagaland, a week-long total lockdown came into effect from 6 pm on Friday. All activities and movement will remain suspended till 21 May, except essential services, and agriculture and construction works.

Meanwhile, state governments and Opposition parties flagged rising cases of black fungus in COVID-19 patients. Symptoms of Mucormycosis, also known as black fungus, include headache, fever, pain under the eyes, nasal or sinus congestion and partial loss of vision.

Around 270 cases of Mucormycosis have been reported so far in Maharashtra’s Pune district, prompting a government task force to come up with a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for hospitals. As many as 52 people have died due to Mucormycosis in Maharashtra since the COVID-19 outbreak last year, a senior health department official told News18 on Friday.

On Wednesday, Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said, “There could be over 2,000 Mucormycosis patients in the state as of now and with more and more COVID-19 cases coming up, their number would increase for sure.”

Madhya Pradesh’s Damoh saw four cases in the last two days, while the Haryana Congress claimed that more than 40 cases of black fungus disease have been reported in the state in the last few days.

On the vaccine front, Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine was launched by Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy’s Laboratories as it administered the first dose on Friday. The vaccine is priced at Rs 948, with five percent GST per dose (retail price of Rs 995.40).

In terms of numbers, the figure of recovered COVID-19 patients outnumbered the daily new cases for the fourth consecutive day on Friday, the Union Health Ministry said. The total recoveries are now more than two crore.

Tamil Nadu tightens lockdown-like restrictions

Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin also announced that from 17 May, e-registration shall be compulsory for inter and intra district travel and that registration is also mandatory for those arriving from abroad and other states.

The decision to make the restrictions more strict was taken at a meeting of leaders from all legislature parties on Thursday, PTI reported.

Citing data on virus spread, with over 30,000 fresh cases everyday and active cases getting close to the two-lakh mark, Stalin said the new restrictions (from 4 am on Saturday till 4 am on May 24) will be implemented due to “unavoidable reasons”.

On Friday, 31,892 fresh virus cases were reported while the active caseload stood at 1,95,339.

Outlets selling vegetables, fish and meat, and provision stores will be allowed to be open only till 10 am as against the current practice of noon, he said, adding no other shops will be permitted to function.

Online ordering and e-commerce services can operate between 6 am and 10 am and between 2 pm and 6 pm to deliver essential commodities including groceries, fish and meat.

ATMs, fuel pumps, medical shops (both allopathic and Indian systems of medicine) will be open as usual. Tea shops, pavement shops selling vegetables, flowers and fruits, which were earlier allowed to function till noon, will not be allowed to operate from Saturday.

Night curfew (from 10 pm to 4 am) and Sunday lockdown restrictions will also continue, he said.

Delhi Police questions Congress, BJP leaders over COVID-19 aid

The Delhi Police on Friday questioned Indian Youth Congress president Srinivas BV over providing COVID-19 aid like medicines and oxygen cylinders. BJP leaders like Gautam Gambhir and Harish Khurana were also questioned over the distribution of relief material, PTI reported.

“The policemen wanted to know how did I get the relief material to distribute among the people. I said I was helping people to save their lives and we have an entire team of hundreds of volunteers at IYC (Indian Youth Congress) that was working round the clock to arrange material and provide it to people,” Srinivas was quoted as saying by PTI.

The IYC president said he was undaunted by the police questioning and was only helping those who had no support from any quarters in this hour of crisis. “We are continuing our work and not scared of the police or any PIL. There is nothing wrong in helping people who have no one to fall back upon and who are desperately trying to save themselves and their families from the fatal virus,” he said.

However, the police said that the questioning was done in line with a Delhi High Court order.

“On direction of the High Court, we conducted enquiry for the fourth day regarding allegations against politicians across political parties on alleged illegal distribution of COVID-19 medicines. Sensationalism be avoided,” the police was quoted by ANI as saying.

The court on 4 May had directed police to examine instances of politicians allegedly procuring and distributing remdesivir in the national capital and take steps for lodging of FIR in case of offence.

Maharashtra to raise oxygen production capacity to 3,000 MT per day, says govt

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said the state government has set a target of producing 3,000 metric tonnes of oxygen per day to ensure that the state does not face a shortage.

Speaking to reporters after a review meeting of the COVID-19 situation, Pawar said measures are being taken to elevate the healthcare infrastructure considering experts’ prediction that children will be the most vulnerable during the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The state government has taken a decision to keep a target of producing 3,000 MT of oxygen per day. Currently, the production capacity in the state is over 1,200 MT, but a decision has been taken to increase the production by 1,800 MT to ensure that there is no shortage,” he said.

Pawar, who is also the guardian minister of Pune, also said that several cases of Mucormycosis have been reported in Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad and rural parts of the district.

“As the medicines required for the treatment of the fungal infection are expensive, directives have been issued to ensure that the supply of such drugs is smooth, and to eliminate any possibility of black marketing,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government administered the anti- Coronavirus vaccine to 3,41,887 people in a single day, which pushed the state’s vaccination count to 1,95,31,051, said the health department said on Friday.

Health minister Rajesh Tope had said on Wednesday that the state was expected to receive more doses from 20 May, after which the drive can be accelerated.

COVID-19 caseload details

With 3,43,144 people testing positive for coronavirus in a day, India’s COVID-19 tally of cases climbed to 2,40,46,809 on Friday, while the toll rose to 2,62,317 with 4,000 fresh fatalities.

The active cases have reduced to 37,04,893, comprising 15.41 percent of the total infections. The national COVID-19 recovery rate has improved to 83.50 percent, the Union Health Ministry’s data showed.

The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 2,00,79,599, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.09 percent, the data stated.

According to the ICMR, 31,13,24,100 samples have been tested up to 13 May, with 18,75,515 samples being tested on Thursday.

The 4,000 new fatalities include 850 from Maharashtra, 344 from Karnataka, 308 from Delhi, 297 from Tamil Nadu, 277 from Uttar Pradesh, 186 from Punjab, 195 from Chhattisgarh, 163 from Haryana, 159 from Rajasthan, 129 from West Bengal, 122 from Uttarakhand, 109 from Gujarat and 108 from Jharkhand.

A total of 2,62,317 deaths have been reported so far in the country including 78,857 from Maharashtra, 20,712 from Karnataka, 20,618 from Delhi, 16,768 from Tamil Nadu, 16,646 from Uttar Pradesh, 12,857 from West Bengal, 11,297 from Punjab and 11,289, from Chhattisgarh.

With inputs from agencies

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