Coronavirus News Updates: Given people's mandate twice, concerned about their suffering: Modi govt tells SC

·9-min read

Coronavirus in India Latest News LIVE Updates: The Narendra Modi government on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the people of the country have given their mandate to it twice and it understands people suffering due to COVID-19 and making every possible effort to augment the supply of Oxygen at the highest political level, reports PTI.

Maharashtra's cumulative tally rose to 49,42,736, while 853 more deaths pushed the toll to 73,515. Compared to Wednesday, the state's caseload increased by 4,554 in the last 24 hours

The Andhra Pradesh government on Thursday sent an SOS to the Centre seeking enhanced supply of medical oxygen as the demand is expected to touch 1,000 tonnes by May 15, officials said.

The Odisha government Thursday said it will provide private hospitals with COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate people in the 18-44 year age group and they will charge Rs 100 per beneficiary.

The Railways has delivered 161 tankers with around 2,511 tonne of liquid medical oxygen to various states across the country so far, the national transporter said Thursday. As many as 40 Oxygen Express trains have already completed their journey so far, it said, adding 22 tankers are on the move with more than 400 tonnes of LMO for Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi.>

The Northern Railways on Thursday cancelled a slew of Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto Express', stating low patronisation and rising coronavirus cases as the reason behind the decision. The Central Railways has cancelled 23 passenger trains.>

Mumbai municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal on Thursday directed officials to set up a drive-in vaccination centre in each of seven administrative regions of the city within 24 hours, a civic official said.

Madhya Pradesh government has declared a complete lockdown in the state till 15 May. Announcing the shutdown, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the state can't remain open with over 18 percent case positivity rate.

The Delhi High Court Thursday said the moral fabric of people has been "dismembered" to a great extent as instead of coming together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, they are engaging in hoarding and black marketing of oxygen cylinders, medicines and concentrators.

As per several reports, the University Grants Commission has written to vice-chancellors of all universities asking them to postpone offline exams scheduled in May, due to the second COVID-19 wave.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for supplying 700 metric tonnes of oxygen.

A Delhi court on Wednesday had directed the city police to release 12 seized oxygen concentrators and put them to immediate use to treat police and judicial officers exposed to coronavirus "due to the nature of their work".

Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi govt, said that SG Mehta's apprehension may be out of place since it was earlier stated by the Centre that there was no dearth of oxygen supply.

Several countries like the UK, the UAE, Australia and Singapore have already banned travellers from India as well as other South Asian countries.

'We want you to augment supplies. Have a holding operation, but it can't be that it reduces the amount to less than 700 MT. You have to provide 700 MT to Delhi by any means,' said the top court.

The poll body last week approached the Supreme Court against what it called "blatantly disparaging remarks" and said the media should be stopped from reporting observations.

The apex court will deliver its judgment on an appeal filed by the poll body against the observations made by the Madras High Court that EC was 'singularly responsible' for COVID-19 second wave in India.

The apex court had, however, maintained that it cannot dilute the hallmark of the judicial process. "We will strike a balance to maintain the independence of our high courts while taking your concerns into account," the Bench had said.

Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah will assemble at 11 am to pronounce the judgment.

The apex court Wednesday stayed the Delhi High Court's order asking the Centre to show cause why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against it for failing to comply with the court's direction to allocate 700 MT oxygen to the National Capital.

India registered 4,12,262 fresh coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the highest so far, taking the overall count over 2.10 crore on Thursday, said the Union health ministry.

With the death of 3,980 more COVID-19 patients in the past 24 hours, the toll in the country climbed to 23,01,68 on Thursday, according to the Union health ministry. This takes the national fatality rate to 1.09 percent.

A prominent leader in western Uttar Pradesh, was admitted to a private hospital in Gurugram after his condition deteriorated due to a lung infection on Tuesday. Singh had tested positive for the novel coronavirus on 20 April.

As the virus mutates further, a third wave of COVID-19 infection is inevitable and it is necessary to be prepared for new waves, the government's Principal Scientific Advisor K Vijay Raghavan cautioned on Wednesday.

With active cases climbing to 34.87 lakh in India, the top scientific officer said it was not expected that the second wave would hit the country with such ferocity.

"Phase three is inevitable given the higher levels of circulating virus, but it is not clear on what time-scale this phase three will occur. We should be prepared for new waves," he said.

Vijay Raghavan said although vaccines are efficacious against new mutations like the UK one and the double mutant, surveillance and vaccine updates are needed as the virus mutates further.

The virus has now adopted a hit and run lifestyle. Also, a combination of less cautionary measures and low immunity in the population from the first wave is driving the second wave, which has killed thousands and infected lakhs of people across the country. Many factors contributed to this second wave and variants are one of the factors, he said.

The first wave peaked in September last year and cases started falling substantially. The first wave declined because of two factors, he said.

"As infections rose, so did immunity among those infected. A combination of the standing level of immunity in the population and cautionary steps halted the spread of the first wave," he said.

But as the cautionary steps declined, new opportunities for infection arose and the level of immunity among the population is often not enough to stop the infection spread.

"Many people get infected until they reach a new immunity threshold. Such a second wave is typically smaller than the first. Such a second wave was expected. However, multiple parameters can change and add up to the second wave, much larger than the first," he said.

(But) Such a larger second wave with the ferocity we are seeing was not predicted, he added.

A study conducted by the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) suggested that the recurrence of the coronavirus outbreak in March could have been due to the lack of "meaningful antibodies" in seropositive people after a peak in September last year.

Elaborating on the evolution of SARS-CoV2 and its increasing lethality, Vijay Raghavan said the virus emerged in 2019 in Wuhan and at that time it was a generalist that could infect many mammal species.

The first phase saw two mutations every month, he said.

However, the second phase which started in October 2020 saw dramatic changes and new variants like the UK variant coming to the fore.

"In early 2021, a very large number of people all over the world had been infected. As the immunity increases, the virus does not have the opportunity to grow," he said.

"But it sees that there are pockets it can go through and therefore it evolves for better transmission," he added.

Earlier, the virus-infected people were largely asymptomatic and many symptomatic and it had a certain profile of progression. Now it has adopted, due to fewer people available, a hit and run lifestyle. And this is what is happening with the new variants coming, he said.

Vijay Raghavan said that distancing can exponentially bring down the spread. "The virus can only go from human to human," he said, stressing on following COVID- appropriate behaviour.

During the briefing, Lav Agarwal, the joint secretary in the Health Ministry, said 12 states, including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, have more than one lakh active COVID cases.

Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Bihar are among the states that show an increasing trend in daily cases, he said.

Agarwal added that 24 states and UTs have more than 15 percent COVID positivity rate.

Thirty districts are showing a continued rise in coronavirus cases since the last two weeks of which 10 are in Kerala, seven in Andhra Pradesh, three in Karnataka and one in Tamil Nadu, he added.

A record 3,780 fresh COVID-19 fatalities were registered in a single day in India taking the death toll to 2,26,188, while 3,82,315 new coronavirus infections were recorded, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Wednesday.

With the fresh cases, the total tally of COVID-19 cases in the country climbed to 2,06,65,148.

Registering a steady increase, the active cases have increased to 34,87,229 comprising 16.87 percent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 82.03 percent, the data updated at 8 am showed.

VK Paul, Member (Health) NITI Aayog, appealed to the "physicians' fraternity'' to come forward and provide tele consultations to people and families at home who are infected with the coronavirus.

"The response to the changing virus remains the same. We need to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour such as masking, distancing, hygiene, no unnecessary meetings and staying at home," he said.

He said personal behaviour (masks, distancing and hygiene), vaccination and tracking, and containment are three pillars that stop the chain of virus transmission.

They are the same for the Wuhan virus and they are the same for the B.1.1.7 or B.1.617," Paul said.

In a reply to a question, Paul said the disease is not spreading through animals and it's human to human transmission.

On vaccination, Agarwal said the total doses administered till now was 16.05 crore. While 12.31 crore people above the age of 45 years have been vaccinated, the number is at 1.58 crore among healthcare workers.

Around 2.09 crore frontline workers have also been vaccinated, while 6.71 lakh people between 18 years to 44 years have got their jabs so far, he added.

In response to another question, Agarwal said that foreign aid is being monitored by a group of senior officials.

"Our technical wing has made guidelines to see what hospital the equipment would be suitable for. The equipment is being sent to hospitals where an immediate need has been felt," he said.

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