Tamil Nadu on Saturday became the latest state in south India to announce lockdown as COVID-19 cases continued to grow at an exponential rate. This came on a day Kerala placed over 25,000 cops on the street to impose restrictions that came to effect from today, and a day after the neighbouring state of Karnataka announced stricter restrictions.
While Kerala reported over 41,000 cases on Saturday, in Karnataka, a total of 447,563 COVID-19 cases and 482 deaths were reported today. In Tamil Nadu state, the lockdown announcement followed a daily record of more than 26,000 cases on Friday. Saturday's figures were yet to be announced.
On the national front, India's numbers continued to be grim with a record 4,187 deaths in 24 hours. A total of 4,01,078 new cases were reported during the same period, taking the caseload to 2,18,92,676.
Meanwhile, in a bid to streamline the availability of medical oxygen at a time when the entire country is facing a severe shortage of the crucial resource, the Supreme Court constituted a 12-member National Task Force (NTF) to formulate a methodology for allocation of oxygen to states and Union Territories.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said that the Union Cabinet Secretary will be the convenor of the national task force and may nominate an officer not below the rank of Additional Secretary to depute for him, when necessary.
"The establishment of this Task Force will enable the decision makers to have inputs which go beyond finding ad-hoc solutions to the present problems. The likely future course of the pandemic must be taken into contemplation at the present time," the bench said.
DRDO drug gets EUA for anti-COVID-19 treatment
Meanwhile, the Centre also sought to boost the availability of a new anti-COVID-19 drug on Saturday.
An anti-COVID oral drug developed by the DRDO was approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for emergency use as an adjunct therapy in moderate to severe coronavirus patients, the defence ministry said.
"In the ongoing second COVID-19 wave, a large number of patients are facing severe oxygen dependency and need hospitalisation. The drug is expected to save precious lives due to the mechanism of operation of the drug in infected cells. This also reduces the hospital stay of COVID-19 patients," the ministry said.
The Union Defence Ministry said that clinical trials of the drug 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) showed that it helps in faster recovery of hospitalised patients and reduces supplemental oxygen dependence.
The approval to the drug, developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a leading laboratory of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in collaboration with Dr Reddy's Laboratories (DRL) in Hyderabad, has come at a time when India has been grappling with a record-breaking wave of coronavirus pandemic that has stretched the country's healthcare infrastructure to its limit.
Tamil Nadu, Karnataka to enter lockdown from 10 May amid southern surge
The Kerala government decided to impose a nine-day complete shutdpwn as the weekend restrictions and curbs imposed earlier failed to create any desired impact in terms of the daily caseload of the infected persons. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state was facing more challenges in the second wave.
Kerala recorded 41,971 fresh cases on Saturday, pushing the COVID-19 tally to 18,66,827, while the toll mounted to 5,746 with 64 more deaths. Active cases now stood at 4.17 lakh, the state government said. Only essential services are exempted and people have been strictly warned against coming out in public places or travelling unnecessarily, with police intensifying patrolling.
Major temples are closed. All borders are under the strict surveillance of the police and only freight vehicles and those having permission from the authorities concerned are permitted through check-posts, state police added. Over 25,000 cops are on the street to enforce restrictions in Kerala.
On Friday, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had tweeted that "no one will go hungry" during the nine-day lockdown and announced measures to provide food for people.
Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin said that a total lockdown had to be clamped in the backdrop of a sharp increase in daily new infections of about 25,000 which was likely to go up.
"The total lockdown will be enforced from 4 am on 10 May to 4 am on 24 May to further intensify the efforts to curb the spread of the disease," he said. Other southern states including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Puducherry are also either already under lockdown or are gearing up for lockdown restrictions.
Andhra Pradesh had announced a partial lockdown with curfew from 12 noon to 6 am from 6 May for two weeks. The state had earlier imposed a night curfew. Telangana has extended night curfew till 15 May.
In western India, Rajasthan too decided to implement a 15-day strict lockdown in the state from 10 to 24 May though curbs have been in place since last month.
In Maharashtra, where lockdown-like curbs were imposed on 5 April coupled with prohibitory orders and restrictions on the movement of people, the lcoal administration in Latur district imposed a six-day lockdown starting from today.
The neighbouring Goa, which lifted a four-day lockdown on Monday, except in tourist hotspots like Calangute and Candolim in North Goa, will undergo a 16-day curfew from tomorrow (9 May).
In the northeast, Manipur 10-day imposed curfew in seven districts starting from today till 17 May. Himachal Pradesh had imposed lockdown or "corona curfew" in the state on Friday till 16 May.
Twelve states account for 80.68% of India's active cases, shows data
Twelve states accounted for 80.68 percent of India's over 37.23 lakh active coronavirus cases, PTI reported quoting official data.
Maharashtra has the maximum number of active cases at 6.57 lakh, followed by Karnataka 5,36,661, Kerala 4,02,997, Uttar Pradesh 2,54,118, and Rajasthan 1,99,147 cases.
The other states having large active cases are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Haryana and Bihar.
Ten states accounted for 70.77 percent of the new cases in the last 24 hours, out of which Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 54,022, followed by Karnataka 48,781 and Kerala 38,460 new cases.
Among the remaining seven states and union territories with high daily new cases are Uttar Pradesh (27,763), Tamil Nadu (26,465) and Delhi (19,832).
Arvind Kejriwal demands 2.6 cr vaccine doses for inoculation of all in Delhi in next three months
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said the number of COVID-19 vaccination centres will be increased three times in Delhi and demanded that the Centre supply of around 2.6 crore vaccine doses for inoculation of all people in the National Capital in the next three months.
Currently, vaccination is going on at 100 centres in Delhi. The number of centres will be increased to 250-300 by the Delhi government, he said in an online briefing.
In order to vaccinate all people in Delhi, over three crore doses will be required, out of which around 40 lakh have already been received, he said. The chief minister urged the Centre to provide it 85 lakh doses per month so that all the Delhiites could be vaccinated in the next three months.
He said that due to good arrangements in Delhi, people from NCR towns like Noida, Ghaziabad were also reaching here to get the vaccines.
So, Delhi will require a little more than three crore doses, he said.
"Roughly 1.5 crore people are above 18 years of age. We need three crore vaccine doses to vaccinate these 1.5 crore people, but we've received just 40 lakh doses. As a result, we need 2 crore 60 lakh additional vaccines," he said.
COVID-19 caseload details
Registering a steady increase, active cases have reached 37,23,446 which comprise 17.01 percent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has dropped to 81.90 percent, the Union Health Ministry's data showed.
The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,79,30,960, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.09 percent, the data stated.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, 30,04,10,043 samples have been tested up to 7 May, with 18,08,344 being tested on Friday.
The 4,187 new fatalities include 898 from Maharashtra, 592 from Karnataka, 372 from Uttar Pradesh, 341 from Delhi, 208 from Chhattisgarh, 197 from Tamil Nadu, 165 from Punjab, 164 from Rajasthan, 162 from Haryana, 137 from Uttarakhand, 136 from Jharkhand, 119 from Gujarat and 112 from West Bengal.
Of the 2,38,270 deaths reported in the country so far, 74,413 were from Maharashtra, 18,739 from Delhi, 17,804 from Karnataka, 15,171 from Tamil Nadu, 14,873 from Uttar Pradesh, 12,076 from West Bengal, 10,158 from Chhattisgarh and 10,144 from Punjab.
With inputs from PTI