HIGHLIGHTS AT 5 PM

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New Delhi, Mar 31 (PTI) Following are the top stories at 5 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.

DEL17 VIRUS-ACTIVE CASES COVID-19: Five states account for over 79 per cent of active cases New Delhi: Five states cumulatively account for over 79 per cent of the total COVID-19 active cases in the country with Maharashtra alone accounting for more than 61 per cent of the active caseload, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

DEL35 VACCINATION-CENTRE-STATES Centre holds review meet with states, UTs ahead of opening up COVID vaccination to people above 45 New Delhi: As India prepares to open up its COVID-19 vaccination drive to people above 45 from April 1, the Centre on Wednesday asked states and union territories to identify low vaccine-coverage pockets, particularly in districts reporting a surge in new infections, and take corrective action.

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.

DELHI DEL21 AVI-DL-AIRPORT-TEST DDMA to randomly test for COVID flyers coming from states where cases are rising: Delhi airport New Delhi: The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) will conduct random COVID-19 test of passengers coming from states where there has been a surge in cases recently, said the Delhi airport's operator DIAL on Wednesday.

DEL15 NIA-LET-TERRORIST-SENTENCE NIA court jails Pakistani LeT terrorist for 10 yrs for conspiring to attack India New Delhi: A special NIA court here has sentenced a Pakistani LeT terrorist to 10 years' imprisonment for conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks at different places in India, including Delhi, after crossing over to Jammu and Kashmir following instructions from his handlers across the border, an official said on Wednesday.

DEL42 MAMATA-OPPN LEADERS Mamata writes to oppn leaders, underscores 'assaults' by BJP, govt on democracy New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written personal letters to non-BJP leaders highlighting the 'assaults' by the BJP and its government on democracy and constitutional federalism of India.

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.

DEL27 CHANDY-INTERVIEW Results of assembly polls will mark beginning of Cong's return to Delhi in 2024: Oommen Chandy New Delhi: The Kerala poll results along with those of other states will mark the beginning of the Congress' comeback nationally and its return to Delhi in 2024, former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy said on Wednesday. By Asim Kamal MDS11 KA-VIRUS-LD GOWDA Former PM H D Deve Gowda, wife tests COVID-19 positive Bengaluru: Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda on Wednesday said he and his wife Chennamma have tested positive for COVID-19.

DEL16 DL-HOSPITAL-LD 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.

DEL18 WEF-INDIA-GENDER GAP WEF's gender gap index: India slips 28 places, ranks 140 among 156 countries New Delhi: India has slipped 28 places to rank 140th among 156 countries in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2021, becoming the third-worst performer in South Asia.

FOREIGN: FGN23 NASA-MARS-DATA NASA exchanges data of its Mars mission with India, China, UAE & European Space Agency Beijing: The US space agency NASA has exchanged data of its current Mars mission with its counterparts in China, India, the UAE and the European Space Agency to lower the risk of a collision as their spacecraft were also currently hovering the red planet, a media report said on Wednesday. By K J M Varma 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. PTI KJ