India saw a single day increase of 56,282 COVID-19 cases taking the country's virus tally a step closer to 20 lakh. Thursday was the eighth consecutive day that daily cases increased by more than 50,000 and fourth consecutive day India reported more cases than the US, the worst hit country in the world.
According to the Union Health Ministry data data updated at 8 am, India has 19,64,536 with 40,699 having succumed to the virus. Of these deaths, 904 fatalities were reported in 24-hours preceding the morning update.
There are 5,95,501 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country presently which contribute to 30.31 percent of the total cases.
Meanwhile, the total number of recoveries among COVID-19 patients in India has jumped to 13,28,336, pushing the recovery rate to 67.62 percent on Thursday, while the case fatality rate has further dropped to 2.07 percent, the government said.
Centre releases second tranche of package for health preparedness
The Centre has released Rs 890.32 crore as the second instalment of the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness package to 22 states and Union Territories, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.
The amount of financial assistance to each state and Union Territories is based on their COVID-19 caseload.
Those who received financial assistance in the second instalment include Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Sikkim, the ministry said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a Rs 15,000 crore package as part of the 'Whole of Government' approach wherein the Centre is leading the COVID-19 response and management, and supporting the states and UTs through technical and financial resources.
The second instalment of the aid will be used to strengthen public health infrastructure for testing, including procurement and installation of RT-PCR machines, RNA extraction kits, TrueNat and CB-NAAT machines, bolster infrastructure for treatment and development of ICU beds, installation of oxygen generators and procurement of bedside oxygen concentrators among others.
It would also be used for engagement, training and capacity building of necessary human resources and incentives to healthcare workforce and volunteers, including ASHA workers on COVID-19 duties, the health ministry said, adding that wherever necessary, volunteers registered on the COVID Warriors portal may also be engaged in coronavirus duties.
CPM's Shyamal Chakraborty dies of COVID-19
Senior CPM leader Shyamal Chakraborty died of COVID-19 at a hospital in Kolkata on Thursday, party sources said. He was 76.
Chakraborty, the three-time transport minister of West Bengal from 1982 to 1996, was admitted to the hospital after he tested positive for COVID-19 on 30 July. He was also a two-time Rajya Sabha member and a veteran trade unionist.
"He died this afternoon. He was on ventilation for the last few days," a party leader said.
He is survived by daughter Ushasi Chakraborty, an actor.
Chakraborty is the second notable politician from the state to die of COVID-19. Trinamool Congress MLA Tamonash Ghosh succumbed to the contagion in June.
On Wednesday, Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation councillor Subhash Bose also died of COVID-19.
State-wise cases and deaths
Of the 904 fresh deaths reported in Thursday morning update, 334 are from Maharashtra, 112 from Tamil Nadu, 100 from Karnataka, 77 from Andhra Pradesh, 61 from West Bengal, 40 from Uttar Pradesh, 29 from Punjab, 23 from Gujarat, 17 from Madhya Pradesh, 13 each from Rajasthan and Telangana, 11 from Delhi and nine each from Jammu and Kashmir and Odisha.
Eight fatalities each have been reported from Bihar and Jharkhand, seven each from Haryana, Kerala and Puducherry, six from Assam, four from Goa, three from Uttarakhand, two each from Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Chhattisgarh, while Nagaland and Tripura have registered one fatality each.
Of the total 40,699 deaths in India, Maharashtra has reported the maximum at 16,476 followed by 4,461 in Tamil Nadu, 4,044 in Delhi, 2,804 in Karnataka, 2,556 in Gujarat, 1,857 in Uttar Pradesh, 1,846 in West Bengal, 1,681 in Andhra Pradesh and 929 in Madhya Pradesh.
So far, 745 people have died of COVID-19 in Rajasthan, 589 in Telangana, 491 in Punjab, 455 in Haryana, 426 in Jammu and Kashmir, 355 in Bihar, 225 in Odisha, 136 in Jharkhand, 121 in Assam, 98 in Uttarakhand, 94 in Kerala.
Chhattisgarh has registered 71 deaths, Puducherry 65, Goa 64, Tripura 31, Chandigarh 20, Himachal Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands 14 each, Ladakh and Manipur seven each, Nagaland six, Meghalaya five, Arunachal Pradesh three, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu two and Sikkim one.
AIIMS study casts doubts over plasma therapy's efficacy
Convalescent plasma therapy did not show benefit in reducing mortality risk among COVID-19 patients, according to an interim analysis of a randomised controlled trial done at AIIMS to assess the efficacy of this mode of treatment.
The therapy involves taking antibodies from the blood of a person who has recovered from COVID-19 and transfusing those into an active coronavirus infected patient to help kickstart the immune system to fight back the infection.
AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria told PTI that no clear mortality benefit of convalescent plasma therapy was seen during a trial conducted among 30 COVID-19 patients.
During the trial, one group of patients was given convalescent plasma therapy along with the standard supportive treatment while the other group only received standard treatment. The number of fatalities recorded in both the groups was equal and there was not much clinical improvement in the condition of patients, he said.
"However, this is just an interim analysis and we need to do a more detailed evaluation to see if any sub-group may benefit from plasma therapy," Dr Guleria said.
He also underlined that the plasma has to be tested for its safety and should have sufficient antibody to be useful to COVID-19 patients.
ICMR to set up registry of hospitalised COVID-19 patients
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has sought participation of institutions and hospitals identified as dedicated coronavirus hospitals or health centres as part of its project to establish "National Clinical Registry of COVID-19" to help improve treatment outcomes and analyse trends in the progression of the pandemic.
The aim is to develop a registry to collect data regarding clinical and laboratory features, treatments, and outcomes of hospitalised COVID-19 patients in India.
The objective is also to study the frequency, clinical and laboratory features, treatments, and outcomes of COVID-19 related multisystem inflammatory disorder in children and adolescents by analysing the national COVID-19 registry, the ICMR said.
Data would be collected from 100 hospitals across the country as part of the project.
"The NCRC will aim at collecting good quality, real time clinical data to inform evidence-based clinical practice, research, formulating guidelines and policy making," the apex health research body.
The duration of the study will be one year.
Kuwait approves repatriation flights to India
Kuwait has approved India's request to run repatriation flights for citizens wishing to return home, even as the Gulf nation has imposed an indefinite travel ban on 31 "high-risk" coronavirus countries, including India, according to a media report on Thursday.
Kuwait's Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will operate the repatriation flights from 10 August to 24 October, the Gulf News reported, citing Kuwaiti newspaper Al Qabas.
The burden of flights will be shared equally between Indian and Kuwaiti airlines and each day about 1,000 Indians will leave Kuwait City, the report said.
Kuwait has a population of 48 lakhs with foreigners accounting for 34 lakhs. There are about 10 lakh Indian expatriates in Kuwait.
"The arrangements proposed by the Indian side are limited to departure only and do not include their return to Kuwait," an official was quoted as saying in the report.
With inputs from PTI