Coronavirus Updates: Confirmed cases in Maharashtra cross two lakh with 7,074 new infections reported today; toll reaches 8,671

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Coronavirus Updates: Maharashtra reported 7,074 COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, pushing the total number of cases to 2,00,064, said a state health department bulletin. The toll rose to 8,671 with 124 deaths reported in the last 48 hours and 171 added from the previous period.

University and college examinations in Punjab have been cancelled in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Saturday. However, the online exams being conducted by some universities will continue uninterrupted.

Delhi recorded 2,505 fresh coronavirus cases on Friday, taking the tally in the city to 97,200, while the death toll from the disease mounted to 3,004.

Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami announced that relaxations in Chennai lockdown will come in effect from 6 July, reports ANI. Vegetable and grocery shops will be allowed to open from 6 am to 6 pm, textile and hardware shops from 10 am to 6 pm, and restaurants from 6 am to 9 pm for takeaway services, he said.

Responding to criticism over its 15 August deadline for COVAXIN, which is being developed by Bharat Biotech, the ICMR said that all COVID-19 vaccine trials across the world are being similarly fast-tracked, while adding that the safety and interest of the people of India remain its topmost priority.

Kolkata Airport announced on Saturday that no flights shall operate to Kolkata from Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Chennai and Ahmedabad for two weeks starting from Monday

Bengaluru will go under complete lockdown from 8 pm today until 5 am on Monday, city's municipal commissioner told ANI.

The COVID-19 toll in Bihar increased to 84 on Saturday after six more patients succumbed to the viral infection. While 197 fresh cases have pushed the state's total to 11,111, according to the state health department.

The state has 2,816 active coronavirus cases, while 8,211 patients have recovered from the disease. This takes the recovery rate to 73.89 percent.

Amid global concerns that China delayed giving information regarding the novel coronavirus outbreak, a team of World Health Organisation (WHO) will visit the country next week to investigate the origins of the virus and its spread to human beings.

The visit will take place more than six months after the WHO's Country Office in China picked up a statement from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission on cases of 'viral pneumonia'.

The Jama Masjid will reopen for the public from Saturday. The mosque will remain open from 9 am to 10 pm.

"Everyone will have to follow physical distancing norms," said Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the shahi imam of the mosque.

A curfew in Karnataka will be implemented from 8 pm on Saturday til 5 am on Monday.

It will not be any different from the restrictions imposed during previous curfews and lockdowns, said BH Anil Kumar, Commissioner of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to The Hindu.

As per the Rajasthan health department, there were 204 new COVID-19 positive cases and three deaths reported in the state till 10:30 am. The total number of cases stands at 19,256, including 3,461 active cases and 443 deaths, as per the health department

India registered 22,771 new coronavirus cases for the first time in a single day, taking the total count to 6,48,315 on Saturday. As many as 442 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, said the health ministry.

At least 11,300 'Make In India' ventilators have been dispatched so far under Centre's 'Atma Nirbhar Bharat' mission, said the Union health minister on Saturday.

Of the total ventilators, 6,154 have been delivered to hospitals. Ministry of Health is also supplying 1.02 lakh oxygen cylinders across India; 72,293 have been delivered, said Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.

Telangana reported eight more COVID-19 deaths on Friday, taking the toll to 283. After 1,892 fresh cases were registered for the first time in a day, the state's tally was pushed to 20,462.

Maharashtra registered 6,364 fresh COVID-19 cases on Friday for the first time in a single day taking the total number of positive cases to 1,92,990.

The toll due to the pandemic rose to 8,376 with 198 new deaths reported in the past 24 hours, a health department statement said.

Even as India's COVID-19 recovery rate crossed 60 percent on Friday, the number of confirmed cases soared by over 20,000 in a day for the first time, data from the Union Health Ministry showed.

The contrasting figures emerged even as the country's apex medical body ICMR announced its plan to launch the world's first COVID-19 vaccine, the indigenously developed COVAXIN, by 15 August. Experts, however, said such a timeline may not be realistic.

In the meantime, Union HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal aannounced that the JEE and NEET exams have been postponed to September in view of the coronavirus pandemic, while the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) decided to suspend all the international flight operations in the country till 31 July.

Friday also saw Goa re-opening its doors for domestic tourists and Himachal Pradesh said that it would allow entry of tourists with conditions such as a test report showing negative for COVID-19 and a prior hotel booking of at least five days.

The hilly state had imposed a ban on tourism three-and-a-half-months ago to check the spread of the novel coronavirus.

COVID-19 cases and deaths as of today

India has confirmed 6,25,544 COVID-19 cases so far while 18,213 have lost their lives since the virus made its first appearance in Kerala's Thrissur in January. The number of recoveries stands at 3,79,891, while one patient has migrated. There are 2,27,439 active cases of coronavirus infections currently in the country.

Most of the 20,903 coronavirus infections reported in a 24-hour span till Friday 8 am came from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Telangana and Karnataka, PTI said, adding that 379 people died during the same period.

Tamil Nadu crossed one lakh COVID-19 cases with the state reporting 4,329 fresh infections and 64 fatalities, pushing the toll from the deadly virus to 1,385.

Of the total 18,213 deaths reported so far, Maharashtra accounted for the highest 8,178 fatalities followed by Delhi with 2,864 deaths, Gujarat with 1,886, Tamil Nadu with 1,321, Uttar Pradesh with 735, West Bengal with 699, Madhya Pradesh with 589, Rajasthan with 430 and Telangana with 275 deaths.

The COVID-19 death toll reached 272 in Karnataka, 251 in Haryana, 198 in Andhra Pradesh, 152 in Punjab, 115 in Jammu and Kashmir, 77 in Bihar, 42 in Uttarakhand, 27 in Odisha and 25 in Kerala.

Jharkhand has registered 15 deaths, Chhattisgarh 14, Assam and Puducherry 12 each, Himachal Pradesh 10, Chandigarh six, Goa four and Meghalaya, Tripura, Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh have reported one fatality each, according to the ministry.

More than 70 percent deaths took place due to comorbidities, it said.

According to health ministry's 8 am data, Maharashtra has reported the highest number of cases at 1,86,626, followed by Tamil Nadu at 98,392, Delhi at 92,175, Gujarat at 33,913, Uttar Pradesh at 24,825, West Bengal at 19,819 and Rajasthan at 18,662.

The number of COVID-19 cases has gone up to 18,570 in Telangana, 18,016 in Karnataka, 16,097 in Andhra Pradesh, 15,509 in Haryana, and 14,106 in Madhya Pradesh.

It has risen to 10,471 in Bihar, 9,013 in Assam, 7,849 in Jammu and Kashmir and 7,545 in Odisha. Punjab has reported 5,784 novel coronavirus infections so far, while Kerala has 4,753 cases.

A total of 3,013 have been infected by the virus in Chhattisgarh, 2,984 in Uttarakhand, 2,584 in Jharkhand, 1,435 in Tripura, 1,482 in Goa, 1,279 in Manipur, 1,014 in Himachal Pradesh and 990 in Ladakh.

Puducherry has recorded 802 COVID-19 cases, Nagaland 501, Chandigarh 450 and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu together have reported 230 COVID-19 cases.

Arunachal Pradesh reported 195 cases, Mizoram has 162 cases, Andaman and Nicobar Islands has 109, Sikkim has registered 102 infections so far, while Meghalaya has recorded 56 cases.

The ICMR said that a total of 92,97,749 samples were tested for COVID-19 up to 2 July, with 2,41,576 of those tested on Thursday.

COVID-19 vaccine by 15 August, says ICMR

India's apex medical body ICMR said Friday that it has identified 12 clinical trial sites, including medical institutions and hospitals, and has asked their principal investigators to ensure that the subject enrolment is initiated no later than 7 July.

The trial sites included AIIMS, New Delhi, AIIMS, Patna and SRM Medical College Hospital and Research Centre in Tamil Nadu.

In its letter to principal investigators of the 12 sites, ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargava noted that the clinical trial of Covaxin is one of the "top priority projects which is being monitored at the top-most level of the government".

However, it is not clear how the clinical trials can be completed and the vaccine released on 15 August when the normal period for a vaccine to be approved is 12 to 18 months.

Several experts have questioned the ICMR's timeline, asking if the efficacy of the vaccine is "pre-decided" and cautioned it from applying "excess pressure".

Over seven vaccines are being researched in India and only Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN and Zydus' ZyCoV-D have got the go-ahead to start human clinical trials, just this week. Globally, over 100 candidates are being tested on humans but no vaccine has yet been approved.

Speaking to Firstpost, Bharat Biotech chairman Dr Krishna Ella, said said that COVAXIN was reported to be safe and immunogenic in all animals. "We have now moved forward towards the clinical development of this vaccine," he added.

Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials of Covaxin in COVID-19 patients will begin this month.

According to PTI, Zydus said that is planning to initiate the clinical trials in July 2020 across multiple sites in India in over 1,000 subjects, however, the company did not say when the vaccine will be ready for commercial use, unlike Covaxin, which is targeting for release on 15 August.

The vaccine candidate, ZyCoV-D, showed a "strong immune response" in animal studies, and the antibodies produced were able to completely neutralise the wild type virus, Zydus said.

With inputs from agencies

Also See: Coronavirus Updates: Rajasthan govt cancels college, university exams as total cases climb to 20,164, toll reaches 456

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