Coronavirus LIVE Updates: Officials who appeared before a parliamentary panel today said no vaccine for coronavirus will be ready before next year. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Climate Change met for the first time today since the lockdown due to COVID-19 was enforced on March 25. The panel headed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh held its first meeting since Parliament was adjourned on March 23, ahead of its scheduled time.
The week-long lockdown imposed in Kerala capital of Thiruvananthapuram, which started on Monday, has been extended by another week as the state continues to register a rapid rise in cases. Only hospitals, medical shops and grocery shops will open in the 100 wards of the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation. All government offices, including the state secretariat, will also stay shut.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar today announced that a strict lockdown will be imposed in Pune and Pimpari Chinchwad areas from July 13 for the next 10 days. Maharashtra has witnessed the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country, with infection numbers surging each passing day.
The Union health ministry has recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in mild and moderate cases of Covid-19 but asked that it be avoided in severe patients. The wonder drug, which was widely touted as a cure for the virus and backed by US President Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, has been mired in controversy after the World Health Organisation said it's now been definitively proven that the cheap malaria drug doesn't work in stopping deaths among people hospitalised with the new coronavirus. The body’s top scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said that there is still a gap in determining whether hydroxychloroquine has a role at all in prevention or minimising the severity of the illness in early infection or even in preventing it. The move came after the UN health agency announced this week that it is suspending the hydroxychloroquine arm of its own trial testing various experimental therapies for COVID-19, referring to previous results from a large UK trial and a separate analysis of evidence on the drug.
The United States, however, said the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus patients has become highly politicised in the US but it is used widely in India, with a top White House official asserting that latest research showed that the anti-malarial drug is highly effective in the early stages of COVID-19. It's the politicisation of this medicine by the mainstream media and portions of the medical community that somehow made this a battle between President (Donald) Trump and them and created this undue fear and hysteria over a drug, a medicine that has been used for over 60 years relatively safely and is regularly prescribed to pregnant women if they are going to a malaria zone, White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Director Peter Navarro told reporters. The idea that this is a dangerous drug is just silly, but if you ask the American people based on the media's coverage of it, that is kind of the state of play right now, he said.
As the cases of coronavirus rise in India, which now stands at the third position among the worst-hit countries, the Uttar Pradesh government will impose a lockdown from 10 pm on Friday till 5 am on Monday, permitting movement only for providing medical and essential services in the state.
All markets, food grain markets and other establishments will remain closed during this period and the supply of essentials will be ensured through doorstep delivery. The movement of trains and air services will continue but road transport will be shut down. Buses, however, will be made available to air and train passengers. “The curbs have been imposed in the state to check the spread of Covid-19 and other communicable diseases,” said Chief Secretary RK Tiwari in an order to district officials.
Tiwari said the decision was taken after reviewing the current situation in the state and to put an effective check on it, adding that all offices and markets will remain closed during this period although medical and health services and other essential services will continue as before.
The announcement came on a day when the state registered 1,248 new cases of the coronavirus as well as 17 deaths. Of the latest figure on Thursday, a maximum number of the cases were reported from Gautam Buddh Nagar with 172 cases, followed by Ghaziabad with 128, Lucknow with 85, Ballia with 61, Meerut with 55 and Kanpur Nagar with 45 cases.
However, there will be no restrictions on freight vehicles on national and state highways, said the state government order, adding that petrol pumps and ‘dhabas’ will also remain open along them. Railway services will also continue as before. While industrial factories in urban and rural areas will remain open during the period, they will have to strictly follow norms of social distancing.