HIGHLIGHTS

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New Delhi, Mar 31 (PTI) Following are the top stories at 12:30 PM: NATION: DEL12 VIRUS-LD CASES India records 53,480 new COVID-19 cases, 354 deaths New Delhi: As many as 53,480 fresh infections pushed India's COVID-19 tally to 1,21,49,335, while 354 new fatalities, the highest single-day spike so far this year, took the death toll to 1,62,468, according to Union health ministry data updated on Wednesday.

DEL11 DCGI-COVISHIELD-SHELF LIFE DCGI extends shelf life of Covishield from 6 to 9 months New Delhi: India's drug regulator DCGI has extended the shelf life of Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, from six to nine months from its manufacturing date.

CAL1 AS-POLL-RAHUL Unlike BJP, Congress fulfils its poll promises: Rahul Gandhi Guwahati: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday visited the famed Kamakhya temple in Guwahati and offered puja.

DEL6 DL-HOSPITAL-FIRE Fire breaks out in Safdarjung Hospital, 50 patients evacuated New Delhi: A fire broke out on Wednesday morning in the ICU of the Safdarjung Hospital here following which 50 patients were evacuated, fire officials said.

BUSINESS: DEL5 BIZ-STOCKS-OPEN Sensex tanks over 400 pts in early trade; Nifty slips below 14,800 Mumbai: Equity benchmark Sensex tumbled over 400 points in early trade on Wednesday, dragged by losses in index majors HDFC twins, Infosys and ICICI Bank amid a negative trend in global markets.

DEL10 BIZ-RUPEE-OPEN Rupee falls 20 paise to 73.58 against US dollar in early trade Mumbai: The Indian rupee slumped 20 paise to 73.58 against the US dollar in opening trade on Wednesday, weighed down by the strength of the greenback and weak domestic equities.

FOREIGN: FGN14 JAISHANKAR-TAJIKISTAN-MEETINGS Jaishankar calls on Tajikistan Speaker; discusses parliamentary support for Indo-Tajik cooperation Dushanbe: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday met Tajikistan Speaker Zokirzoda Mahmadtohir Zoir and appreciated the strong parliamentary support for Indo-Tajik cooperation.

FGN2 US-ASIAN AMERICANS Biden announces additional actions to respond to anti-Asian violence Washington: US President Joe Biden has announced additional actions to respond to the violence and xenophobia perpetrated against Asian Americans. By Lalit K Jha. PTI DIV DIV