The Centre on Thursday announced that domestic airlines will now be allowed operate up to 80 percent of their pre-coronavirus capacity.
Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said domestic operations, which began with 30,000 passengers on 25 May have reached 2.52 lakh as of 30 November.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court expressed its concern over the violation of COVID-19 guidelines on wearing protection masks at public places and maintaining physical distance and asked the Centre to suggest ways for its effective implementation.
India's coronavirus cases rose by 35,551 on Thursday morning, making it the 26th straight day when daily infections stayed below the 50,000 mark. The country now has a total of 95,34,964 cases, while as many as 89,73,373 people have recovered. The toll rose by 526 to 1,38,648.
Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 6.44 crore people and killed over 14.91 lakh, according to the Johns Hopkins University. Over four crore people have recovered from the infection.
Airlines now allowed to operate up to 80% of pre-COVID capacity
On Thursday, the Centre increased the number of domestic flights that Indian airlines are now permitted to operate to 80 percent of pre-COVID levels.
Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri on 11 November had said that the Indian airlines can operate up to 70 percent of their pre-COVID domestic passenger flights due to the prevailing demand amid the coronavirus situation.
Domestic operations recommenced with 30K passengers on 25 May & have now touched a high of 2.52 lakhs on 30 Nov 2020. @MoCA_GoI is now allowing domestic carriers to increase their operations from existing 70% to 80% of pre-COVID approved capacity.@PMOIndia @DGCAIndia
" Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) December 3, 2020
"Ministry of Civil Aviation is now allowing domestic carriers to increase their operations from existing 70 percent to 80 percent of pre-COVID approved capacity," he stated on Thursday.
The ministry had resumed scheduled domestic passenger services from 25 May, after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus lockdown.
However, the airlines were allowed to operate not more than 33 percent of their pre-COVID domestic flights.
'Five vaccines logistically feasible for distribution'
AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria on Thursday pinned his hopes on the five COVID-19 vaccine candidates which are in advanced stages of a clinical trial in India, stating they are logistically feasible for distribution in both urban and rural areas.
His assertion comes amid Pfizer-BioNTech's anti-coronavirus vaccine getting emergency clearance in the UK, paving the way for mass vaccinations against the deadly novel coronavirus from as early as next week.
Dr Guleria expressed hope that by the end of this month or early next month, at least one of the five vaccines being locally-tested should get emergency use authorisation from the drug regulator to be administered to the public starting with priority groups.
According to sources, global pharma giant Pfizer had talks with the Indian government late August, but since then there has been no development.
Meanwhile, Pfizer on Thursday said it remains committed to engaging with the Indian government to explore opportunities to make Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine available in the country.
"Right now we are in discussions with many governments around the world and remain committed to engaging with the Government of India and explore opportunities to make this vaccine available for use in the country," a Pfizer spokesperson said in a statement, as per news agency PTI.
No night curfew in Delhi for now, AAP govt tells HC
Amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in Delhi due to winter season, the AAP government on Thursday informed the Delhi High Court that no night curfew would be imposed in the National Capital, or parts of it, for now.
The submission was made before a bench of justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad in response to the court's query on 26 November as to whether night curfew would be imposed in Delhi to contain the spread of COVID-19 infection, as has been done in some other states.
In a status report filed in court, the Delhi government, represented by senior advocate Sandeep Sethi and additional standing counsel Satyakam, said that it has, for now, issued an order directing that status quo be maintained with regard to permitted and restricted activities in the city till 31 December.
The court was hearing a PIL by the advocate Rakesh Malhotra seeking an increase in the COVID-19 testing numbers in the National Capital and getting speedy results.
SC expresses concern over violations of COVID guidelines in public places
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Thursday expressed concern over the violations of the COVID-19 guidelines on wearing of face masks at public places, non-adherence of social distancing norms and sought suggestions for their strict implementation.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan also asked Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and other stakeholders to give suggestions on how to strictly implement the guidelines on face masks and social distancing, reports PTI.
The bench, also comprising justices R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, asked the Himachal Pradesh government to file a status report regarding facilities for treatment of the COVID-19 patients in the state and the infrastructure available for it.
In a hearing conducted via video-conferencing, the top court was told about the lack of facilities for treatment of COVID-19 patients in Himachal Pradesh.
Interpol issues global alert on criminals t>argetting vaccines
Interpol has warned law enforcement agencies across the globe that organised criminal networks could try to advertise and sell fake COVID-19 vaccines physically and on the internet.
In an Orange notice issued to all 194 member countries on Wednesday, the Lyon-based international police cooperation body warned agencies to prepare for potential criminal activity in relation to "the falsification, theft and illegal advertising of COVID-19 and flu vaccines".
"It also includes examples of crimes where individuals have been advertising, selling and administering fake vaccines," a statement from the Interpol said.
The Interpol issues an Orange notice to warn of an event, a person, an object, or a process representing a serious and imminent threat to public safety.
The CBI, which is the national central bureau for India, is tasked with coordination with the Interpol.
With inputs from PTI