Coronavirus LIVE Updates: India Sees Record Spike of Nearly 67,000 Cases, 942 Deaths in 24 Hrs; Vaishno Devi Yatra May Not Resume After Aug 16

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Coronavirus LIVE Updates: With a record single-day increase of 66,999 cases, India's COVID-19 tally mounted to 23,96,637 on today, while the number of patients who have recovered from the disease surged to 16,95,982, pushing the recovery rate to 70.77 per cent in the country, according to the Union health ministry. The death toll due to COVID-19 climbed to 47,033 with 942 people succumbing to the disease in the last 24 hours, health ministry data updated at 8 am showed. The case fatality rate in the country has declined to 1.96 per cent. There are 6,53,622 active COVID-19 cases in the country presently, which accounts for 27.27 per cent of its total caseload. India crossed the 20-lakh mark in terms of COVID-19 cases on August 7.

The much-awaited pilgrimage to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Cave Shrine may not resume even after August 16 when the government has issued guidelines for reopening of all the religious places as around 11 people have been tested positive at Bhawan in Trikuta Hills of Reasi district. “In total 11 people have been tested positive for COVID-19 at Bhawan,” official sources here said. They said that three people tested positive on Tuesday and eight, including some of the priests, tested positive on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the Covid-19 pandemic not only threatens gains in fighting global poverty and building peace but risks exacerbating existing conflicts and generating new ones. The UN chief told a Security Council meeting on the challenge of sustaining peace during the pandemic that his March 23 call for an immediate cease-fire in conflicts around the world to tackle the coronavirus led a number of warring parties to take steps to de-escalate and stop fighting. “Yet, regrettably, in many instances, the pandemic did not move the parties to suspend hostilities or agree to a permanent ceasefire,” Guterres said. His predecessor as secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, told the council: “It is truly astonishing that in response to this pandemic, the world has placed billions of people under lock-down, closed international borders, suspended trade and migration, and temporarily shut down a whole variety of industries but has not managed to suspend armed conflicts.”

Ban criticised the UN Security Council for wasting valuable months “in arguments over the details of the text” and not adopting a resolution until July 1 demanding an “immediate cessation of hostilities” in key conflicts including Syria, Yemen, Libya, South Sudan and Congo to tackle COVID-19. “This has weakened the message that this council needs to send to all warring parties: now is the time to confront our common enemy,” Ban said. And he said delayed council action “further aggravated the current volatile global security situations”. “The impact of COVID-19 on conflict-affected settings has been much worse than initially thought,” said Ban, who is a co-chair of the group of prominent world leaders founded by Nelson Mandela known as The Elders.

The British government has changed the way it compiles coronavirus deaths, a move that reduced the country's official death toll by more than 5,000. The Department of Health said the new total is 41,329, down from 46,706. That is still Europe's highest death toll. The government announced last month that it was reviewing the way death statistics were compiled, after academics pointed out that in England the tally included anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and later died, with no cut-off point between positive test and death. That means some people recorded as coronavirus deaths may have died of other causes - and the proportion would increase over time.

That could explain why England has been showing far higher daily death tolls than Scotland, which only counts deaths that occur within 28 days of a positive test. Public Health England said Wednesday that it will also adopt a 28-day cut-off date, bringing it into line with the rest of the U.K. People who die more than 28 days after testing positive, but fewer than 60 days, will be added to the total only if COVID-19 appears on their death certificate. Public Health England said it made the change after discovering that “in recent weeks the numbers of deaths in people who have tested positive have become substantially greater than the numbers of deaths subsequently registered as COVID-19 deaths” by the Office for National Statistics, which uses death certificates to keep its tally.