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New Delhi, Mar 18 (PTI) Following are the top stories at 1 PM: NATION: DEL7 VIRUS-LD CASES India adds 35,871 fresh COVID-19 cases, biggest single-day jump in 102 days New Delhi: India on Thursday recorded 35,871 new COVID-19 cases, the highest single-day rise in over 100 days, which took the infection tally to 1,14,74,605, according to Union health ministry data.

CAL2 WB-POLL-ISF-CANDIDATES Bengal polls: ISF fields candidates from across religions, castes Kolkata: The ISF, led by Furfura Sharif's influential cleric Abbas Siddiqui, has fielded candidates cutting across religions and castes for the West Bengal assembly elections, in a bid to prove its secular credentials.

LEGAL: LGD2 SC-ELECTORAL BONDS SC to hear on Mar 24 plea against opening of window for sale of electoral bonds New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear on March 24 a fresh plea seeking a direction to the Centre and others to not open any further window for sale of electoral bonds during pendency of a PIL pertaining to funding of political parties and alleged lack of transparency in their accounts.

LGD1 DL-HC-ELECTION-MASK COVID-19: Plea in HC to direct Centre, EC to debar candidates canvassing without masks for polls New Delhi: A plea has been filed in the Delhi High Court seeking direction to the Centre and Election Commission to debar campaigners and candidates from canvassing either permanently or for a stipulated time if they repeatedly violate the mandatory masking guidelines issued by the poll panel in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

BUSINESS: DEL4 BIZ-STOCKS-OPEN Sensex surges over 400 pts in early trade; Nifty tops 14,850 Mumbai: Equity benchmark Sensex rallied over 400 points in early trade on Thursday, led by gains in ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Reliance Industries amid positive cues from global markets and foreign fund inflows.

DEL9 BIZ-RUPEE-OPEN Rupee rises 9 paise against US dollar in early trade Mumbai: The rupee appreciated by 9 paise to 72.46 against the US dollar in opening trade on Thursday, supported by positive domestic equity markets and easing crude prices.

FOREIGN: FGN14 VIRUS-UN-INDIA India expected to register largest increase in child and maternal deaths in South Asia in 2020 amid COVID-19 disruptions: UN United Nations: India is projected to register the greatest increase in the number of deaths among children under 5 in South Asia in 2020 as well as the highest number of maternal deaths as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts the country's health services, a UN report has said. By Yoshita Singh FGN21 VIRUS-CHINA-VACCINE-DIPLOMATS China offers its COVID-19 vaccines to diplomats, foreign journalists Beijing: China has opened its mass domestic COVID-19 inoculation drive for the first time to Beijing-based diplomats and foreign journalists by offering a vaccine developed by a Chinese pharmaceutical company. By K J M Varma. PTI DIV DIV