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Coronavirus in India April 17 Highlights: PM Modi says Kumbh ‘should now only be symbolic’; Congress holds virtual meeting to discuss Covid-19 situation


India on Saturday reported 2,34,692 new Covid-19 cases and 1,341 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to data from the Union Health Ministry. The total number of cases in the country now stands at 1,45,26,609.

There are now 16,79,740 active cases while 1,26,71,220 people have recovered from the disease. The overall death toll has reached 1,75,649. As many as 11,99,37,641 people have been vaccinated so far.

Meanwhile, the global death toll from the coronavirus has topped 3 million people, according to a count by John Hopkins University.

The pace of deaths has been accelerating. The world did not record one million deaths until September 28, but had recorded two million by February 21, less than five months later. And the latest million took less than two months. The United States, Brazil and Mexico lead the world in Covid-19 deaths.

People purchase oxygen cylinders for home quarantined Covid-19 patients from medical oxygen suppliers in Lucknow on Friday. (Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

Lower primary schools in Assam districts with more than 100 cases to be closed: Himanta

Lower primary schools in districts which have reported more than 100 cases have been directed to be closed on account of the surge in Covid-19 cases in Assam, said health and education minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma. “As of today, this includes Kamrup (Metro), Dibrugarh, Nagaon, Jorhat, Tinsukia, Cachar and Sonitpur districts,” said Sarma, addressing a press conference in Guwahati on Saturday, regarding the Covid situation in the state. “We have authorised the deputy commissioners to close the LP schools as and when they find more than 100 active cases in their district,” he said

After a staggered opening since September, schools (all classes) in Assam have been functioning in full capacity since January 1.

He added that a decision on the schedule of the State Education Board of Assam (SEBA) High School Leaving Certificate exams will be taken after the new government is elected on May 2. “By May 4 or 5, the announcement will be made,” he said, adding that the SEBA authorities would be discussing the matter in the next ten days. Additionally, vaccination camps will be set up in schools and colleges across Assam to vaccinate faculty above the age of 45.

Close to 24,000 new Covid cases in Delhi, beds and oxygen supply running out: Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday that the Covid caseload is fast increasing and the pressure on the health infrastructure is immense now, with many hospitals facing a shortage of beds, oxygen and drugs such as remdesivir and tocilizumab.

Delhi reported close to 24,000 cases in a day on Saturday, which is the highest single-day spike for it as well as for any city in India. The city’s positivity rate has climbed to 24%, Kejriwal said. The total number of Covid cases in Delhi since the beginning of the pandemicnow stands close to 8.3 lakh.

He also said that the weekend lockdown was announced because the situation in Delhi was serious. “We are taking stock of the situation and will announce more measures if required,” he said. “Every heath system has a threshold and a limit. We are trying to increase the number of beds quickly, particularly the ones with oxygen support. We want to ensure that there is no shortage of oxygen and are trying to increase the number of beds with oxygen support,” the CM said.

He added, “A total of 1,300 beds with oxygen support will be readied at Yamuna Sports Complex and CWG Village in a few days. Another 2,500 beds are also being set up in Radha Soami Satsang Complex in Chhatarpur. I am hoping that we will get 6,000 more beds in the coming two-three days. The rate at which Covid is spreading, there is no telling when the peak will be reached. We cannot afford to have a lax attitude at all. We need to be one step ahead [of the crisis].”

Make Covid vaccines available in open market: Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik writes to PM Narendra Modi

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday requesting him to make vaccines available in the open market for better accessibility to those in need.

“Vaccines may be made available outside the government supply chain in the open market so that willing citizens who can afford the vaccine can avail them. This will help governments to have a focused approach towards vulnerable sections of society,” Patnaik wrote in his letter to the Prime Minister, adding that the vaccines which have been approved globally by credible agencies and governments should be accorded approval to increase the supply.

Amid Covid-19 surge, PM Modi says Kumbh should now be only ‘symbolic’

Amid nationwide concern over the large gatherings seen during the Kumbh Mela, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that the mela should now be only “symbolic” as it will help strengthen the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister said he spoke to top seer, Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha president Swami Avdheshanand Giri Ji Maharaj, over the phone and made an appeal about the religious gathering that has so far attracted lakhs of devotees. Modi also enquired about the health of saints, many of whom have contracted the infection, and conveyed his appreciation for their cooperation with the local administration.

COVID has hit with fury; despite a year to prepare, we were caught off guard again: Sonia Gandhi

Accusing the Modi government of “gross unpreparedness” and “adhocism” in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday made a slew of suggestions to the Centre to deal with the pandemic such as reducing the immunization age to 25 years and providing income support to people.

In her opening remarks, while chairing the meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), Gandhi also accused the Centre of giving preferential treatment to some states while maintaining “thundering silence” on requests of states ruled by the Congress and opposition parties.

The Congress has always believed that fighting the COVID-19 pandemic is a national challenge that should be kept above party politics, she asserted.

The Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, chaired by Gandhi, was attended by former party chief Rahul Gandhi, general secretaries, other permanent invitees and state in-charges of the party. The committee discussed the current Covid-19 situation in the country and steps that need to be taken urgently to check the further spread of the virus.

Delhi: Weekend curfew kicks in, Kejriwal to hold review meeting today

Weekend curfew came into force in Delhi on Saturday with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealing to people to follow rules. “Delhi is under curfew today and tomorrow because of Corona. Please follow it. We have to defeat Corona together,” Kejriwal tweeted.

Weekend curfew came into force in Delhi on Saturday with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealing to people to follow rules. The curfew was announced after Delhi witnessed its highest weekly case count and death toll. Between April 9 and April 16, over 97,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19 and 600 have died. On Friday, 19,486 people had contracted the virus 141 died of it – the highest to date.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister will hold a review meeting with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia today afternoon, who is also the nodal minister for Covid-19 response in Delhi, and Health Minister Satyendar Jain.

Short of plasma, PCMC to offer Covid-19 survivors Rs 2,000 to donors

Coronavirus in India April 17 Highlights: PM says Kumbh 'should now only be symbolic'; Congress holds virtual meeting to discuss Covid-19 situation Plasma donation in Pune (Express photo by Arul Horizon)

With demand for convalescent plasma on the rise for Covid-19 patients, the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has decided to give Rs 2,000 to each donor. The BJP, which governs the PCMC, said the move was aimed at encouraging more donors to come forward and donate their plasma. At the same time, it has also been decided to provide free plasma bags to private hospitals.

“Plasma therapy is proving to be a boon for Covid-19 patients. However, not many patients who have recovered from the virus are coming forward and donating their plasma. Because of this, we have decided to give Rs 2,000 to each donor who steps forward and donates his plasma,” Mayor Usha Dhore told The Indian Express on Saturday.

Telangana’s second Covid-19 wave sees cases spike in older populations

Telangana recorded a new highest-ever spike in the daily average of fresh coronavirus infections on Thursday when 3,840 active patients were added to the cumulative caseload. At the peak of the pandemic last year, the state had reported 3,018 new cases on August 25.

Even as the number of daily infections has already breached the 3000-mark three times this month, the health department has warned of a rapid rise in the caseload for the next four to six weeks in the state.

As the state grapples with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new trend is visible in the daily bulletins over the last three months. A look at the data issued by the Directorate of Public Health and Family Welfare on February 15, March 15, and April 16 — three dates when the new infections were 99, 157, and 3,840, respectively, shows a drop in the percentage of exposure to the virus in the age group 21-30 years, and 31-40 years. This is unlike last year when most cases were reported in these age groups.

HD Kumaraswamy tests positive for Covid-19

Former Karnataka CM and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy Saturday tested positive for Covid-19. “I have tested positive for COVID-19. I request everyone who came in close contact with me over the last few days to isolate themselves and get tested,” he said in a tweet.



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