As pressure grew on the Biden administration to ship COVID-19 vaccines along with several life-saving medical supplies to India, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that the administration will “rapidly” deploy additional support to the country which is reeling from a horrific COVID-19 outbreak.
On Sunday, India reported a record daily rise of 3,49,691 new coronavirus infections, taking its overall tally to 16.96 million infections.
A total of 2,767 people were reported dead on Sunday, according to health ministry data, taking total coronavirus fatalities to 1,92,311.
You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.
Here are the latest updates:
Rajasthan to provide free vaccination to all above 18 years
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Sunday announced that the State government will provide free coronavirus vaccine to people above the 18 years of age, who will be inoculated beginning May 1.
He said the State government will spend about ₹3,000 crore on the exercise.
“The State government will provide free coronavirus vaccine to all people above the 18 years of age in the State at the cost of about ₹3000 crore,” Mr. Gehlot said in a tweet in Hindi.
He also said it would have been better if the Centre had agreed to incur the cost of vaccination for the 18-45 age category, as demanded by State governments.
Oxygen Express with 70 tonnes of oxygen to reach Delhi by Monday night: Railways
The first Oxygen Express train for Delhi carrying around 70 tonnes of the life-saving gas will depart from Jindal Steel Works plant in Raigarh on Sunday night, Railway Board Chairman Suneet Sharma said. The train, with four tankers, will reach Delhi by Monday night, he said.
The railways has chalked out plans to transport medical oxygen from Angul, Kalingnagar, Rourkela and Raigarh to Delhi and NCR region, Mr. Sharma said, adding the Delhi government has been advised to get road tankers ready to obtain the oxygen.
Recurrence of COVID-19 in March could be due to lack of antibodies in seropositive people: CSIR survey
The recurrence of coronavirus outbreak in March could have been due to lack of “meaningful antibodies” in seropositive people after a peak in September last year, suggests a survey by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The CSIR conducted a sero-survey on 10,427 people comprising the staff members of its 40 laboratories, including contractual employees, and their family members from 17 States and two Union Territories.
Maharashtra to provide free vaccination to all above 18 years
The Uddhav Thackeray government is in favour of providing free vaccination for its citizens above 18 years in the third phase of vaccination drive, said Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik on Sunday.
Mr. Malik said the “Maha Vikas Aghadi government” will float a global tender to procure the “best vaccine at the best possible price” to fight the scourge. He said for two doses per person, the State government would need to purchase 14-15 crore vials for the third phase of the drive.
COVID-19 stalks Odisha’s poorly connected Nuapada district
At Bikrampur village, surrounded by the Kudalkiara forest in western Odisha’s Nuapada district, Muralidhar Kand, 52, is very relieved that 18 days have passed since he tested positive for COVID-19. His brother, Shyamdhar, 45, too appears to be recuperating well from COVID-19.
But, Mr. Kand said, “We were left puzzled when we tested positive for the coronavirus. We rarely go outside for shopping while vendors occasionally come to us. Our interaction with the outside world is limited.” A small forest patch has to be crossed to reach Bikrampur, home to about 50 families.
Chennai stays indoors on April 25
After a gap of several months, the city came under a complete Sunday lockdown on April 25. The roads were mostly deserted as people chose to stay indoors and only a few ventured out for essential purposes and most of them wore masks.
To control the spread of COVID-19 as the country is facing a second wave, the State government announced various new restrictions including night lockdown between 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. and complete lockdown on Sundays.
The city police geared up to enforce the complete lockdown by deploying 12,000 police personnel and setting up 192 checkpoints across Chennai.
20 persons among every 100 testing positive in East Godavari
East Godavari Collector D. Muralidhar Reddy on Sunday claimed that at least 20% of people undergoing COVID-19 tests in the district were returning positive results.
Speaking to newsmen after inspecting the District Hospital in Rajamahendravaram, Mr. Muralidhar has said: “At least 5,000 tests are conducted daily across the district. We are preparing to increase this to 6,000. TRUANT test will be conducted in the towns of Ramachandrapuram, Tuni and Kothapeta from Monday”. The Collector confirmed that the district has been witnessing over one thousand COVID-19 cases daily for the past few days.
Govt asks social media platforms to remove 100 COVID-19 related posts
The government has asked social media platforms to take down around 100 posts which it believes were done to create panic about the COVID-19 situation in India by using unrelated, communally sensitive posts and misinformation, The Hindu has learnt.
On April 24, microblogging website Twitter had removed over 50 posts from its platform following orders from the government. The majority of these tweets were critical of the Centre’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as India grappled with a record number of cases amid shortage of beds and medical oxygen.
PM CARES Fund allocates funds for 551 oxygen plants in public health facilities
The PM CARES Fund has approved allocation of funds for setting up 551 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) medical oxygen generation plants at public health facilities in the country, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on April 25.
With 162 such plants approved earlier, the decision would lead to setting up of an oxygen plant in all districts with government hospitals, an official said.
T.N. Police feed homeless during lockdown
While the city came under a complete lockdown on April 25, Chennai City police did not leave the homeless to go without food. Many police officers came forward to provide food to those living on the city’s pavements.
On April 25, the entire city came under a lockdown and people stayed indoors. “Many of the urban homeless are dependent on people who donate food. However as there was restricted public movement on Sunday, City Police Commissioner Mahesh Kumar Aggarwal instructed us to provide food for those in need,” said a senior police officer.
COVID-19: Isolation train coaches become operational in Bhopal
Twenty isolation coaches having over 300 beds for COVID-19 patients became operational at the Bhopal railway station on April 25, in a bid to reduce the burden on hospitals which are seeing a scramble for beds due to a surge in coronavirus cases, officials said.
These coaches are equipped with essential medicines and necessary staff, and oxygen cylinders will also be made available there for emergency use, State Medical Education Minister Vishvas Sarang told reporters after inspecting the facilities.
System failed, so it’s important to do ‘jan ki baat’: Rahul Gandhi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on April 25 alleged that the “system has failed” and it is the duty of the party to provide help to fellow citizens suffering due to sudden spurt in COVID-19 cases in the country.
“System’ failed, so it’s important to do Jan ki baat,” Mr. Gandhi said on Twitter. “In this crisis, the country needs responsible citizens. I request my Congress colleagues to leave all political work — just provide all help and ease the pain of our countrymen,” he added.
Lockdown in Delhi extended till May 3
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Sunday that the Delhi lockdown is being extended for one week. This means that the current restrictions will be in force till morning of May 3.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr. Kejriwal said: “We enforced a six-day lockdown that is ending tomorrow. This was our last weapon against coronavirus.”
We have spoken to several sections and have decided to extend the lockdown by one more week, he added.
Free vaccination programme will continue: PM Modi
“India was full of self-confidence after successfully tackling first wave of COVID-19, this ‘toofan’ (2nd wave) has shaken country,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on his monthly radio programme Mann Ki Baat.
“The free vaccination programme of the government of India will continue. I urge the State government to utilise this scheme and ensure that maximum people have been vaccinated,” he said.
COVID-19-positive TMC candidate dies at Kolkata hospital
TMC candidate from Khardah Assembly constituency Kajal Sinha, who had tested positive for COVID-19, died at a hospital in Kolkata on April 25 morning, an official of the State health department said.
Sinha (59) was found to have contracted the viral disease two days ago, following which he was admitted to Beliaghata ID hospital, the official said.
Congress Health Ministers claim no supply for next round of jab for 18 and above
Rajasthan Health Minister Raghu Sharma said that when the State government reached out to the Serum Institute of India (SII) it was told that no vaccines were available till May 15.
The Union government had announced opening the third round of vaccines for all above 18 years of age.
“When we reached out the Serum Institute, to procure additional stock of vaccines for the May 1 onward drive to vaccinate all above 18 years of age. We were told that the Institute will not be able to give any doses till May 15. They said that they are booked till then delivering orders to the Centre,” Mr. Sharma said.
Waive charges, speed up oxygen imports, govt. tells major ports
A day after the government dropped the basic customs duty on the import of COVID-19 vaccines, medical oxygen and equipment needed for patients to use such oxygen, the government has directed all major ports to waive all charges for oxygen-related imports and accord them the ‘highest priority’ in the berthing sequence.
The Shipping Ministry’s directive to chairpersons of these ports, however, does not mention the import of COVID-19 vaccines as part of the proposed waivers.
India fastest in world to administer over 14 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses: Health Ministry
India has become the fastest country in the world to administer over 14 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses, done in just 99 days, the Union Health Ministry said on April 25.
Eight States — Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala — account for 58.83% of the total doses given so far in the country, it said. So far, 14,09,16,417 vaccine doses have been administered across the country through 20,19,263 sessions, the ministry said citing a provisional report till 7 a.m.
Odisha tagging oxygen-laden vehicles with GPS
Following the chaos over oxygen shortage in Delhi and other States, the Odisha government has decided to tag vehicles carrying the cylinders with global positioning systems (GPS).
The GPS tagging is expected to help authorities keep a tab on the movement of oxygen-laden vehicles from source points to hospitals.
20 COVID-19 patients escape from care centre in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal
Twenty COVID-19 patients have escaped from a care centre in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district, officials said on April 25.
The incident took place on April 24 at the COVID-19 care centre set up at a students’ hostel in Ghatanji taluka, local health officer Dr. Sanjay Puram said.
Based on a complaint lodged by health officials, the Ghatanji police have registered an FIR against the 20 patients under relevant sections, he said.
Delhi’s LNJP hospital, left with just 2 hrs of oxygen supply, receives refill
Amid an acute oxygen crisis in the national capital, Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital in New Delhi received a supply of the life-saving gas in a cryogenic tanker around 10 a.m. on Sunday, officials said.
It came as a huge relief for the hospital which was running on its backup stock of oxygen.
“We had exhausted our oxygen stock and were using the backup which would have lasted for two hours only,” said LNJP Hospital’s Medical Director Dr. Suresh Kumar.
Daily numbers update
Single-day spike of over 3.49 lakh new COVID-19 cases in India, record 2,767 fatalities
India logged a record 3,49,691 new coronavirus infections in a day taking it total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,69,60,172, while active cases crossed the 26-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.
The death toll increased to 1,92,311 with a record 2,767 daily new fatalities, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.
Registering a steady increase, the active cases have increased to 26,82,751 comprising 15.82% of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has further dropped to 83.05%.
Delhi’s Ganga Ram Hospital receives 5 MT oxygen, highest in 3 days
After an all-night scramble for an oxygen refill, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi received five metric tonnes of the life-saving gas in the early hours of Sunday, according to officials.
The hospital had raised an alarm at 10.30 p.m. on Saturday, saying its oxygen stock would last only an hour. There were 130 patients in the ICU, including 30 on invasive ventilation, when the SOS was sent.
Around 12.20 a.m. it received a tanker, with the help of local AAP MLA Raghav Chadha, which supplied one metric tonne of oxygen.
“It should last two hours,” a hospital spokesperson said around 12.45 a.m. – PTI
Pakistan PM Imran Khan expresses solidarity with India over COVID-19 crisis
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday expressed solidarity with the people of India battling the deadly wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying “we must fight this global challenge confronting humanity together”.
In a tweet, Mr. Khan said: “Our prayers for a speedy recovery go to all those suffering from the pandemic in our neighbourhood and the world”.
“I want to express our solidarity with the people of India as they battle a dangerous wave of COVID-19. We must fight this global challenge confronting humanity together,” he said on Twitter.
The tweets from the Pakistani leader came amidst some signs of rapprochement in the relations between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue.
(With inputs from Correspondents and Agencies)