COVID-19 updates: States ease lockdown from Monday as India cases drop to 1.2 lakh; China approves jab for kids, adolescents

In National Capital Delhi, the Delhi Metro will operate at 50 percent capacity from 7 June and markets and malls will open on an odd-even basis

With the decline of daily COVID-19 cases in India, some states including Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Goa, among others, have begun to ease lockdown-like restrictions. The country Saturday reported 1,20,529 new cases, the lowest single-day spike in nearly two months.

This is the twelfth straight day when India, recovering from the deadly second wave, saw a positive rate below 10 percent. The active caseload dropped to 15.55 lakh as active cases decreased by 80,745 in the past 24 hours.

Meanwhile, a Times of India report said that the N440K variant has been detected in Gujarat in at least nine COVID-19 samples of the 293 tested between January and 24 April, 2021. The prevalence of the super infective COVID-19 variant has been rising in India, which now accounts for 33% of all known occurrences globally, the report added.

This fact was revealed in a research paper published recently by the Academy for Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR), headquartered on the CSIR campus in Ghaziabad.

Delhi opens malls and shops on odd-even basis; Metro to resume at 50% from Monday

In National Capital Delhi, where the ‘unlock’ process began from 31 May, the Delhi Metro will operate at 50 percent capacity and markets and malls will open on an odd-even basis from 7 June, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday.

The lockdown in Delhi, which was to end at 5 am on Monday, will be extended further but several relaxations will be allowed, Kejriwal said during an online briefing.

Government and private offices will be allowed to reopen with 50 percent attendance. Markets and malls will be allowed to open on an odd-even basis from 10 am to 8 pm, he said.

Maharashtra to begin five-level unlock plan on Monday

On the other hand, the Maharashtra government will implement a five-level plan to ease curbs, based on the weekly positivity rate and the occupancy of oxygen beds.

The order will come into effect from 7 June based on the COVID-19 positivity rate and oxygen bed occupancy levels of 3 June.

Cities and districts, which have a positivity rate of below five percent and oxygen bed occupancy of less than 25 percent, will open up completely, according to a government notification.

But restrictions of varying degrees will remain in cities and districts where the positivity rate is five percent and oxygen bed occupancy is 25 to 40 percent, where the positivity rate is five percent to 10 percent and the oxygen bed occupancy is more than 40 percent and where positivity rate is 10 to 20 percent and oxygen bed occupancy is more than 60 percent.

In the fifth category, where the positivity rate is more than 20 percent and the oxygen bed capacity is more than 75 percent, only essential shops will remain open till 4 pm and office attendance will be 15 percent.

Mumbai comes under the Level 3 category, as per the state government’s order.

Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Goa extend lockdown till 14 June with relaxations

Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin announced the extension of the lockdown by a week till 14 June with some easing of restrictions from Monday, except in 11 districts where the number of new cases reported was still high.

All government offices have been permitted with a 30 percent workforce. While major factories are allowed to function with a 50 percent workforce.

Electricians, plumbers, carpenters hardware shops, stationery shops are permitted to function between 6 am and 5 pm. Earlier, neighbouring Karnataka had extended the lockdown till 14 June.

Himachal Pradesh and Goa also extended the ‘Corona curfew’ till 14 June on Saturday. In Goa, shops selling essential items are allowed to operate between 7 am and 3 pm every day. Himachal Pradesh had earlier eased curbs including those related to the opening of shops, restaurants and eateries.

Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh too cancel Class 12 board exams

Stalin also announced the cancellation of Class 12 board exams in view of the COVID-19 second wave. The state government held discussions with parents, teachers, educationists, health experts and political parties in the past three days on conducting the exams.

“Though there were mixed opinion on conducting the board exams, all of them wanted to ensure the safety of the children. COVID-19 second wave is still raging in the state and health experts also predict a third wave. However, the state government cannot vaccinate Class 12 students as they are aged below 18 years,” Stalin said.

The decision by the Tamil Nadu government comes after the Centre cancelled the CBSE Class 12 examinations.

Considering the safety of students, the Himachal Pradesh government too announced the cancellation of Class 12 board exams on Saturday. The government decided that the HP Board of School Education will devise a formula to evaluate the Class 12 students and declare the final results accordingly.

For students not satisfied with the results, the board will also be allowed to appear in a special examination. The special exams will be conducted once the situation is conducive to conduct the examination.

Several states including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra have also decided to call off the board exams. Many others including Delhi, West Bengal, Assam, and Telangana are yet to take a call in the Class 12 board exams.

Uttar Pradesh eases restrictions in 67 of 75 districts

This week, the Uttar Pradesh government eased restrictions in districts where active cases have dropped below 600.

The state government announced relaxations in Bareilly and Bulandshahr districts from Monday, allowing shops and markets outside the containment zones to open for five days a week. With this, night curfew restrictions remain effective in 67 of its 75 districts.

“Districts which have positive cases under 600 have been given permission to open but with restrictions, while cities with over 600 positive cases will be under lockdown till the next order,” a local government spokesperson said.

In addition to this, no more than 25 guests at a time will be allowed in any function. For the last rites, no more than 20 people will be allowed to participate.

In three-wheelers such as auto-rickshaws and e-rickshaws, a maximum of three persons, including the driver, will be allowed, while in the case of four-wheelers, a maximum of four persons will be allowed.

Over the last week, several other states announced the easing of restrictions. In Gujarat, all government and private offices will be allowed to operate fully from 7 June, instead of the current restriction of 50 percent. The government has also eased restrictions on commercial activities, allowing shops in 36 cities to remain open for longer.

The Odisha government has eased lockdown in Nuapada, Gajapati, and Sundargarh districts as COVID-19 cases declined over the past few days. In the aforementioned districts, the relaxation time for availing essential commodities has been extended to six hours from 6 am to 1 pm.

In Rajasthan, the government issued guidelines on Monday to start the “unlock” process by easing certain restrictions from 2 June. Several shops are allowed to reopen between 6 am and 11 am from Tuesday to Friday. However, shopping malls and AC shopping complexes remained closed.

Till 7 June, all government offices shall remain open with 25 percent staff occupancy from 9.30 am to 4 pm, and after 7 June, this occupancy will be increased to 50 percent.

Even as the COVID-19 situation has relatively improved in most of the northern and western states, southern and eastern parts of the country are still reporting a high number of cases.

Delhi preparing possible third wave, says Kejriwal

The Delhi government on Saturday said training medical staff in ICU management, engaging with IIT professors and conducting polling booth-wise programmes to vaccinate people are some of the focus areas as it prepares to tackle a possible third wave of COVID-19 in the city.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal chaired two meetings on Friday with expert and preparations committees and made several decisions to mitigate the impact of a possible third wave, a statement from the Delhi government said on Saturday.

“The government has formulated a graded escalation plan to increase the mitigation capacity of COVID-19 ,” it said, adding that based on this, activation or re-purposing of beds, wards, other infrastructure, supply of consumables or equipment, stopping optional surgeries, and diverting resources to other departments will be undertaken.

The government, on the basis of its consultation with experts, has decided 37,000 cases as the peak during the third wave, and based on that it will be decided as to how many oxygen cylinders will be needed, the Delhi government said, adding that it will buy many oxygen concentrators.

A team of senior doctors/specialists under DGHS will be created for effective Information, Education and Communication (IEC) and multi-modal awareness campaigns to educate the public about judicious use of drugs, and pros and cons of new drugs like Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Monoclonal Antibody, etc to prevent indiscriminate use and over-prescription, it said.

China approves emergency use of Sinovac vaccine for children

China has authorised the emergency use of Sinovac Biotech Limited’s COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac for those aged between 3 and 17. This makes China the world’s first major country to grant approvals for children aged three and above. Other countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and certain US states have authorised the use of COVID-19 vaccines for children above 12.

Though China has not confirmed when their children would be vaccinated with the first doses, the Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials have shown the Sinovac vaccine is safe and effective for children as well as adults.

“The same vaccine, the same amount, and the same process can be used for children aged between 3 and 17,” Sinovac’s CEO Yin Weidong told state broadcaster China Central Television on Friday.

With inputs from agencies

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