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India surpasses France, Germany; becomes 7th most-affected country in world

NEW DELHI, May 31: New Delhi: India is now the seventh most affected country by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic with a tally of 190,162 cases, which includes 5,402 deaths, according to data presented by the worldometer website.

The United States leads the table with 18.2 lakh cases, including 1.05 lakh casualties. Of these, over 11.18 lakh cases are active cases while 5.36 lakh have been either recovered or discharged from hospitals. At least 17,163 people are said to be seriously critical of the infection in the US.

Brazil takes the second spot with 5.01 lakh cases and over 28,000 deaths. Here, 2.67 lakh is active cases and over 2 lakh people have been recovered of the illness. Close to 8,300 are critically ill in Brazil.

Russia is on the third spot with 4.05 lakh cases followed by the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy.

On May 31, India registered its highest single-day spike of COVID-19 cases with 8,380 new infections reported in the last 24 hours, taking the country's tally to 1,82,143, while the death toll rose to 5,164.

Just a few days back, on May 25, India took the tenth position on the table with a total of 1.38 lakh confirmed cases, after surpassing Iran, which stood at 1.35 cases.

Maharashtra continues to be the worst-hit state in the country with 67,655 positive cases of coronavirus, as on May 31. Mumbai alone accounts for 39,686 of the total 67k cases of the state. The number of active cases of COVID-19 in Maharashtra stands at 36,040.

Other most-affected states are Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

WHO, 37 nations launch alliance to share tools to tackle Covid-19 pandemic

ZURICH, May 29: Thirty-seven countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) appealed on Friday for common ownership of vaccines, medicines and diagnostic tools to tackle the global coronavirus pandemic, taking aim at patent laws they fear could become a barrier to sharing crucial supplies.

While the push by mostly developing nations, called the Covid-19 Technology Access Pool, won praise from groups including Doctors Without Borders, a drug industry alliance questioned if the effort to pool intellectual property would really broaden access to medicines.

Developing and some small nations fear rich countries pumping resources into finding vaccines - more than 100 are in development - will muscle their way to the front of the queue, once a candidate succeeds.

“Vaccines, tests, diagnostics, treatments and other key tools in the coronavirus response must be made universally available as global public goods,” said Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado.

The effort, originally proposed in March, aims to provide a one-stop shop for scientific knowledge, data and intellectual property amid a pandemic that has infected more than 5.8 million people and killed more than 360,000.

The WHO issued a “Solidarity Call to Action”, asking other stakeholders to join the voluntary push.

“WHO recognises the important role that patents play in fuelling innovation but this is a time when people must take priority,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an online news briefing.

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations raised concerns about undermining intellectual property protections, which the group said already enable collaboration and will also be needed after the pandemic is over.

“The ‘Solidarity Call to Action’ promotes a one-size-fits all model that disregards the specific circumstances of each situation, each product and each country,” the federation said.

Anna Marriott, health policy manager for anti-poverty group Oxfam, said the divide over how to handle patents illustrated how some regions could wind up losers.

“The pharmaceutical industry’s attempt to rubbish the World Health Organisation’s initiative suggests they care more for profits than people’s health,” she said.

Anthony Fauci says coronavirus vaccine in 2020 viable

WASHINGTON, May 27: Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, said there’s a “good chance” a vaccine may be deployable by November or December.

Cases soared in Brazil, and police opened an investigation into Rio de Janeiro’s handling of the crisis, while Mexico had its deadliest day yet. The European Union will propose a fiscal package worth more than $800 billion, and Japan is planning new economic stimulus valued in excess of $1 trillion.

The euro-area is faring worse than hoped, facing a recession as bad as the European Central Bank’s more pessimistic forecasts. In Britain, pressure mounted on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to fire his chief aide and the government may look at lockdowns on a local level if cases flare.

U.S. fatalities approached the 100,000 level, though infections rose at the slowest pace since March and President Donald Trump unveiled plans to increase testing.

India now among 10 worst countries in Covid-19 cases

NEW DELHI, May 24: With the highest one-day national surge of 6,634 new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases, India on Sunday overtook Iran to become the 10th biggest hot spot of the pathogen, which has rapidly swept the globe, claiming new epicentres across continents and leaving health care systems overwhelmed in its wake.

The number of Covid-19 cases in the country stood at 138,474 on Sunday, nearly doubling over the course of 13 days, even as graded relaxations in the fourth phase of the national lockdown were likely to push up the contagion over the coming days.

New Covid-19 cases dropped to zero for the first time on Saturday in China, the country where the pandemic originated, but surged in India and ravaged South America. Experts say that in countries with weak health care systems and impoverished populations, fighting the virus has proven to be difficult.

Latin America has become the latest epicentre of the highly contagious disease. Brazil and Mexico reported record numbers of infections and deaths almost daily this week, fuelling criticism of their governments for limited lockdowns. But infections also rose and intensive-care units were swamped in Peru, Chile and Ecuador, all countries praised for imposing early and aggressive shutdowns.

India’s trajectory of Covid-19 cases appears to be tracking that of Brazil, according to analysis of latest data. India’s case count on Sunday was where Brazil’s infections stood about 15 days ago.

The latest 10,000 infections were recorded in two days. India recorded its first 10,000 Covid-19 cases in nearly 43 days, with a wave of infections beginning in March after three isolated cases were first reported in Kerala in January. It took seven days for the cases to climb from 20,000 to 30,000.

The disease’s doubling rate, which is defined as the average period it takes for a twofold rise, decreased from 13.9 days on May 18– the day the cases hit 100,000 – to 13.1on Sunday. The doubling rate – which is calculated over a period of last seven days – was four days at the beginning of April. Several experts say the peak of the outbreak in India is yet to come.

Across the world, many governments are easing restrictions as they face political challenges and poor economic indicators brought on by the pandemic. In just a few months, the pandemic has killed at least 345,000 people worldwide and infected more than 5.4 million.

Turkey, which stands at the ninth spot in the global tally just above India, imposed its toughest lockdown measures yet starting Saturday for the Eid holiday. In Germany, which has drawn praise for its handling of the outbreak, seven people appeared to have been infected at a restaurant. It would be the first known such case since restaurants started reopening two weeks ago. France, which has the seventh highest number of infections, has allowed religious services to resume after a legal challenge to the government’s ban on gatherings in places of worship.

The US has been the hardest-hit country, with about 100,000 Covid-19 deaths so far among 1.6 million confirmed cases, followed by Russia and Brazil.

Concerns, however, are rising in India, where new cases showed another record jump on Sunday, going past 6,000 for the third straight day as the two-month lockdown eased. States with relatively few cases have seen spikes in recent days as residents, including migrant workers travelling in special trains, have returned home.

On average, India has reported 6,102 cases over the last five days. The corresponding number for the previous five days was 4,753. The data, which is based on official figures from states, shows that about a third of the total cases have been reported over the past week.

On Sunday, the number of infections in Delhi rose to 13,418 after 508 new cases were reported.

Maharashtra, the worst-affected state in the country, surpassed 50,000 cases. It reported 3,041 new infections during the day and its overall tally was 50,231. Of these, 30,542 cases – more than a fourth of the national tally – have been reported in Mumbai alone.

The surge of cases also continued in Tamil Nadu as the state recorded 765cases. The state has so far reported 16,277 cases.

As India relaxes curbs that were put in place on March 25, experts say the coming weeks will be crucial.

Dr SK Sarin, director of the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences and who also heads the five-member committee formed to assist the Delhi chief minister to tackle the pandemic, said that the lockdown has only delayed the peak, “which is likely to come maybe in July or mid-August”.

Covid-19 cases in India surge to 1.12 lakh

NEW DELHI, May 21: The COVID-19 pandemic in India grew by the record number yet on Thursday when as many as 5,609 cases were detected across the country. Maharashtra saw an explosion of COVID-19 infections — the state reported over 2,000 new cases for the fourth straight day. The total number of coronavirus patients in India rose to 112,359.

Coronavirus claimed 132 lives in last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 3,435. Maharashtra alone accounted for 65 deaths on Wednesday, a lion's share of the total fatalities across the country on Wednesday.

There were 63,624 active coronavirus patients in the country, according to ministry of health and family welfare. On a positive side, at least 40% of the total coronavirus cases were recovered from the disease. More than 42,000 people have been cured so far.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 infection continued to surge in Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.

Maharashtra's coronavirus count inched towards 40,000 mark as the state had recorded over 2,000 coronavirus cases. The total number of COVID-19 patients in the state stood at 39,297. As many as 1,390 coronavirus patients succumbed to death in the state.

Delhi also witnessed the highest spike in COVID-19 count. As many as 534 people tested positive for novel coronavirus in the national capital. Coronavirus infected 11,088 in Delhi.

The coronavirus cases in Tamil Nadu breached the grim milestone of 13,000. The state reported highest number COVID-19 cases after Maharashtra.

India is among 11 countries that has over a 1,00,000 cases, but has fewer deaths — 3,316 — and only behind Russia’s 2,972. Only 2.94% of Indians confirmed positive are on oxygen support, 3% in Intensive Care Units and 0.45% on ventilator support, the Union health ministry said on Wednesday.

About 6.39% of the total number of active coronavirus cases in the country needed hospital support, Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, health ministry added. “Despite similar population, total cases of COVID-19 in top 15 countries is 34 times that of India," he stated.

He again reiterated the importance of social distancing and maintaining a basic hygiene routine to mitigate the virus spread.

Coronavirus Cases In India Cross 1 Lakh

NEW DELHI, May 18: India's coronavirus cases crossed one lakh today with more people testing positive for COVID-19 in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and other states. The cases rose even as several states announced easing of lockdown guidelines after it was extended till May 31 by the centre. Over 3,000 have died in India due to coronavirus so far.

Several states have ordered reopening of markets, local transport and even salons in areas that are considered safe from coronavirus. However, schools, colleges, theatres and malls are among those that would remain closed.

India recorded the biggest single-day jump of 5,242 new coronavirus cases on Monday morning, with the cases hitting 96,169 before it crossed the one-lakh mark.

The government has put the ball in the court of states, allowing them to colour-code the zones according to the incidence of coronavirus, thereby taking a final decision on what activities are allowed in any particular area.

The centre has made it clear that only essential activities should be allowed in containment zones. It has allowed buses and other vehicles to run. But flights and metro services remain closed.

COVID-19 cases in India near 86,000, death toll at 2,752

NEW DELHI, May 16: With the states reporting 3,970 new cases, India's COVID-19 count raced past 85,000 on Saturday. The total number of coronavirus patients in India increased to 85,940. While Maharashtra continued to add over 1,000 new cases, Tamil Nadu registered 434 new cases in last 24 hours.

Coronavirus claimed 2,752 lives in India. At least 103 people succumbed to death in last 24 hours. Maharashtra recorded 49 fatalities on Friday, biggest spike in single-day COVID-19 fatalities.

There were 53,035 active coronavirus patients in the country, according to ministry of health and family welfare. Nearly 33% of the total cases — 30,152 people were recovered from the disease.

The coronavirus cases in Maharashtra inched towards 30,000. The state was the worst hit by coronavirus pandemic. Mumbai reported nearly 15,000 coronavirus cases. The coronavirus cases in the state stood at 29,100. The death toll in the state crossed the grim milestone of 1,000.

After Maharashtra Tamil Nadu recorded the most number of coronavirus patients. However, the state witnessed a slight decline in daily coronavirus cases on Friday. As many as 434 people tested positive for the virus in last 24 hours. There were 10,108 COVID-19 patients in Tamil Nadu.

India surpasses China tally with 85,000 confirmed coronavirus cases

NEW DELHI, May 15: The nationwide tally of confirmed Covid-19 cases crossed 85,000 on Friday with more people testing positive for the deadly virus infection from Kashmir to Kerala and from Karnataka to Bihar, even as indications emerged about greater relaxations in the fourth phase of the lockdown beginning Monday to contain economic costs of the pandemic.

Going by the numbers declared by different states and union territories, India has now surpassed China’s official tally of 82,933 confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Though some new cases have emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan -- the epicentre of the deadly virus -- less than 100 people are now undergoing treatment across China, which recorded 4,633 deaths due to Covid-19 but more than 78,000 have been discharged after recovery, as per their official data.

Globally, more than 3 lakh people have died and nearly 45 lakh have tested positive for the deadly virus since its emergence in Wuhan last December. While China and several other countries have begun reopening their economies, fresh concerns have begun mounting about a possible re-emergence of the virus.

India is now the 11th most affected nation in the world, but each one of the top-ten have one lakh or more cases.

The US tops the charts with more than 14 lakh cases, followed by Russia, UK, Spain, Italy and Brazil with over 2 lakh cases each; and France, Germany, Turkey and Iran having over 1 lakh cases each.

In its morning 8 AM update, the Union Health Ministry said the death toll due to Covid-19 across India has risen to 2,649 and the number of cases has climbed to 81,970, registering an increase of 100 deaths and 3,967 cases in the last 24 hours since Thursday morning.

There are more than 51,000 active cases, while nearly 28,000 have recovered, giving a recovery rate of over 34 per cent.

However, a tally of numbers reported by states and UTs, as of 9 PM, put the total number of confirmed cases across the country much higher at 85,538. This also showed at least 2,679 deaths and nearly 30,000 recoveries.

Jammu & Kashmir, Bihar and Karnataka breached the 1,000-mark in terms of the number of people having tested positive, while testing and containment measures were ramped up in places like, Kerala, Goa and Manipur that were being seen as being mostly virus-free till a few days back. Even a quarantine centre had to be sealed in Manipur.

On the other hand, large numbers of cases continued to get detected in big urban clusters. Maharashtra, the most-affected state, reported 1,576 new cases to take its tally to 29,100, while its death toll rose to 1,068. Tamil Nadu crossed the 10,000 mark with 434 new cases, while Gujarat saw 340 more people testing positive to push its tally to 9,932.

According to the Union Health Ministry, 30 municipal areas account for 79 per cent of India’s coronavirus infection caseload.

At a meeting of a group of ministers chaired by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, it was stressed that the focus of Covid-19 management strategy needs to be on the states with the highest number of confirmed cases and fatalities.

Also, focus is needed on treatment and case fatality management, for which timely detection and contact tracing were the best way forward.

The Finance Ministry in the meantime unveiled the third booster dose, mainly consisting of measures aimed at helping farmers and for reforms in agriculture and allied sectors, of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Rs 20 lakh crore ‘special package’ for making India self-reliant in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Modi said the third tranche will help the rural economy and boost farmers’ income.

India has been under a lockdown since March 25, which was initially scheduled to end on April 14 but has got extended twice -- first till May 3 and then till May 17 with some relaxations.

A final decision on the fourth phase is expected soon, but officials said there could be greater relaxations and more flexibility for states and union territories while measures being explored include gradual reopening of the railways and domestic airlines.

Schools, colleges, malls and cinema halls may not be allowed to open anywhere in the country, but salons, barber shops and optical shops may be allowed everywhere barring Covid-19 containment areas. E-retailers may be allowed to deliver non-essential items too.

Final guidelines will be issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs after going through the suggestions of various state governments. During his last interaction with chief ministers, Modi had asked them to submit their suggestions by May 15.

According to officials, Punjab, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Assam and Telangana want the lockdown to continue, while some states have sought powers to decide the zoning of districts -- green, orange and red -- as per the COVID-19 situation.

This request of the state governments may be accepted so that they can restrict or allow movement of people or economic activities in a particular place depending on the ground situation, an official told PTI.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation on Tuesday, had said that the lockdown 4.0 will have a “completely different form”, with new rules.

“No state wants complete withdrawal of lockdown but all want gradual resumption of economic activities,” the official said.

Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka are among some states which are not in favour of complete resumption of train and air services, at least till May-end.

The railways have already started special trains to 15 destinations from Delhi and have been running several hundred ‘Shramik Special’ trains from different parts of the country to various places for transportation of migrant workers stranded due to the lockdown.

Air India is also engaged in evacuation of thousands of Indians stranded abroad during the lockdown under the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’.

However, there have been cases of people testing positive after reaching their native places using these trains and flights.

Officials said local trains, buses and metro services may start running with limited capacity in non-containment areas of red zones. Autos and taxis are also expected to be allowed in all zones with restrictions on the number of passengers, barring areas identified as ‘containment zones’.

Maharashtra has favoured strict lockdown measures in Mumbai, its suburbs and Pune, and a complete ban on inter-state and inter-district transport.

However, Gujarat wants resumption of economic activities in major urban centres. Delhi, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala have also favoured opening up of economic activities.

Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha, which have seen a spike in the Covid-19 cases after arrival of migrant workers, want the lockdown to continue with strict curbs on movement of people.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has urged Modi not to open state boundaries for the next few months, except for migrants or essential services.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the state has written to the Centre urging extension of the lockdown by two more weeks.

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said the Centre may announce many relaxations in the lockdown after May 17.

The Arunachal Pradesh government has decided to resume state transport bus service to various destinations from May 18, while the Haryana Roadways has already resumed bus services on select routes within the state.

113-year-old Spanish woman overcomes coronavirus infection

BARCELONA, May 15: A 113-year-old Spanish woman says she is in good health after having overcome infection by the new coronavirus.

Maria Branyas said she “feels good.” She avoided developing severe COVID-19 symptoms and had her latest test come back negative. Her daughter told Spanish news agency EFE that her mother, who was born in the United States, tested positive for the virus in April.

“As far as my health, I feel good, with the little issues everyone has as we get older, but I feel fine,” Branyas told EFE this week from her nursing home where several residents have fallen ill and died from the new virus.

Local media say at least 17 residents of her nursing home are suspected to have died after developing symptoms associated with COVID-19. On March 27, Branyas’ social media account run by her children said that “unfortunately the virus has entered our residence.”

Branyas was born in San Francisco on March 4, 1907 after her family emigrated to Mexico and then the U.S., as her children recount in a Twitter account run in her name called “Super Catalan Grandmother.”

After living for some years in New Orleans where her father founded a magazine, she returned to Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region where she lives in the town of Olot.

Branyas still has memories of crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a boat during World War I, as she related to Catalan news agency ACN on her birthday in March.

“Because of the war, Germany was still attacking in the north, and there was no way of going through the Nordic seas, so you had to go further south, via Cuba and the Azores,” she said.

Despite her poor hearing and sight, Branyas said she was aware of the pandemic that has claimed over 27,000 lives in Spain.

“It is a tragedy,” she said, “since only a few people seem to know where it came from, how it got here and why.


Covid-19 is from a lab: Indian Minister Gadkari

NEW DELHI, May 13: The coronavirus, which originated from China's Wuhan and has claimed over 2.5 million lives worldwide, is not a "natural virus" and it was created from a laboratory, said Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday.

"...We need to understand the art of living with corona. That art of living is very important as it is not a natural virus. It is an artificial virus and many countries across the world are researching for a vaccine," Gadkari said in an interview.

This is the first time that the Indian government has made a comment on the origin of the deadly contagion. This admission by a senior cabinet minister is significant as most countries have blamed a lab in Wuhan for the creation of the virus.

"The second thing is detection methodology. We need some good methodology. Immediately, we can identify (the virus). This is unexpected because this a virus from laboratory, this is not a natural virus," the union minister added.

Gadkari's statement comes at a time when countries across the world, including the US, have raised suspicions that the virus which has brought the world to a grinding halt, was created in labs in Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei province.

US President Donald Trump, on multiple occasions, has blamed China for allowing the virus to spread around the world. He has also referred to it as 'Chinese virus'. A war of words also emerged between Trump and Chinese diplomats of the world over blaming each other for the origin of the virus.

Gadkari, however, expressed confidence that the countries, including India, are prepared to handle the coronavirus crisis.

"So, probably the world is prepared, India is prepared, scientists are prepared and the system is prepared by which after getting the solution for that, we can create a positive confidence. By taking the vaccine, there will be no problem. So, I feel that as early as possible, we will get the alternative solution for all these things and that will resolve the problem," Gadkari said.

Meanwhile, multiple government agencies are planning measures against China for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, The Washington Post had reported on April 30, citing officials.

According to data from US-based John Hopkin University, the global number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has neared 43 lakh, with the death toll exceeding 2.92 lakh.

India Crosses 80,000 COVID-19 Cases

NEW DELHI, May 14: The number of coronavirus cases in the country has crossed the 80,000 mark, data received from the states showed this evening. Updated figures from 11 states showed that the total across the country was 80,759 -- a jump of 10,000 in roughly two days.

The spike comes as the country is prepping to step into another phase of lockdown after May 17.

Earlier today, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said the doubling time of COVID-19 cases has slowed down to 13.9 days over the last 3 days.

Maharashtra is still the state with the highest number of cases -- 27,524 -- a spike of 1,602 over yesterday's figure. A chunk of them is from Mumbai, where Dharavi -- the largest slum in Asia --is fast becoming a hot spot with more than 1000 cases.

Next to Maharashtra is Tamil Nadu with 9,674 cases. The figures from Gujarat, which had 9,267 cases, are yet to arrive.

Earlier today, Delhi crossed the 8,000-mark with 472 new cases -- the biggest spike in 24 hours. The overall number in the national capital is now 8,470, of whom 3,045 people have recovered and 115 patients died.

After Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, Delhi has the highest number of coronavirus cases. The rate of doubling is 10 days. The authorities said the spike is because of more testing, but they also admitted that the relaxations since May 4 are a factor.

Mentioning the fourth extension of the lockdown in his address to the nation on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it would come in a "completely different form", with new rules.

"Corona will be with us for a long time but our lives cannot revolve around it. We will wear masks, we will follow doh gaj doori (six-foot distance), but we won't let it derail our targets," he stressed.

This morning, data from the Union health ministry showed that since Wednesday, another 134 deaths were reported.

Of these, 54 were in Maharashtra, 29 in Gujarat, 20 in Delhi, 9 in West Bengal, seven in Madhya Pradesh, four in Rajasthan, three in Tamil Nadu, two each in Telangana and Karnataka and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh.

According to the ministry website, more than 70 per cent of the deaths are due to comorbidities, meaning chronic illnesses which the patients had.

At current trajectory, India’s case count likely to reach 100,000 in 7 days

NEW DELHI, May 11: The number of reported coronavirus cases in India rose 13 percent over the past two days to 67,152, data from the morning update of the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) showed. This is in line with the rate of increase compared to the previous 48 hours, when the reported case count rose 13 percent to 59,662.

After tapering last month, India’s coronavirus trajectory has picked up this month, with new infections and deaths rising faster in India than in most other countries.

India’s case count is now roughly double what it was eleven days ago. This is still slower compared to early-April, when cases were doubling every four days. Deaths have also seen slower rise compared to the trend in early-April but have picked up pace over the past couple of weeks. India’s death toll from covid-19 as of Monday morning was 2,206, roughly double what it was ten days ago.

At the current rate of compounded daily growth, the number of cases could rise to 100,000 in seven days. The continuing rise in cases pose a severe challenge for India’s strained medical capacity and overburdened health system.

At 17,140, Maharashtra leads in terms of the number of active cases, according to the health ministry update this morning. Active cases exclude deaths and recoveries from the list of confirmed cases.

Tamil Nadu has the second most number of active cases (5,198), followed by Gujarat (5,156). At 4,781 active cases, Delhi has the fourth-highest number of active cases, followed by Uttar Pradesh (1,740). The top five states together account for 77 percent of the active cases nationally, and the top ten states account for 94 percent of all cases.

Nationally, the active case count was 44,029 as of today morning. These are early days yet and the state-wise distribution could change in the coming days as testing gets ramped up across states.

Taiwan Donates 1 Million Masks to Help Protect Indian Medical Personnel

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, May 8: In the spirit of “Taiwan can help! And Taiwan is helping” and calling for greater international cooperation, Taiwan has provided one million face masks to India to help protect frontline medical personnel.

On behalf of the Government of Republic of China (R.O.C.) (Taiwan) Ambassador Chung-Kwang Tien of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India handed over these masks to Neel Kamal Singh, Deputy Secretary General of Indian Red Cross Society, at a hand-over ceremony here on Friday.

Ambassador Tien pointed out the virus respects no national boundary neither races and gender, therefore the assistance and helps should not be limited by nations, races or genders.

The masks were brought to India by a special chartered flight on May 4.

Taiwan has shown to the world that due to the preemptive preparations, the right policy implemented by the Government, the trust established by the people towards the Government and the lesson learned after the 2003 SARS, Taiwan has been recognized and praised greatly by international communities and countries around the world in terms of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taiwan should be very much like to share her experiences as well as the PPE material such as masks with all the countries in need.

Ambassador Tien Also complimented the extraordinary efforts Indian Government has made in curtailing the spread of COVID-19, conveyed Taiwan’s concern and best wishes to the Government and people of India.

Highlighting India as an important and valued partner to Taiwan, the Ambassador expressed strong confidence that India will prevail over the challenges and restore momentum and economic growth, the Government of Taiwan will continue to evaluate the evolution of the pandemic, its domestic demand and situations of friendly countries to make further timely contribution to the international community.

On behalf of Indian 30 million members of Indian Red Cross Society and people of India, Deputy Secretary General Singh commended that Taiwan has set a norm in epidemic prevention and containing.

He expressed deep appreciation for Taiwan’s timely donation and guaranteed that Indian Red Cross Society will properly allocate the masks to frontline medical personnel to help protect them during combating the pandemic.

It may be mentioned that in April and May 2020 the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) had launched Taiwan’s first large-scale humanitarian assistance initiative in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

So far, there are 25.5 million face masks in total and other medical supplies donated to the most needed countries, including the United States, European Union member states, other European nations, diplomatic allies, 18 countries across Indo-Pacific and some African and Mideast countries.

This timely donation will support medical care workers in containing the spread of COVID-19 around the world.

No Covid-19 case reported from 10 states and UTs in last 24 hrs

NEW DELHI, May 10: Amid novel coronavirus outbreak in the country, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan today said that there were no Covid-19 cases reported from 10 States/Union Territories in the last 24 hours. The statement came after the health minister inspected arrangements at a Covid-19 care centre in the national capital in Mandoli area.

Additionally, four states/UTs in the country have never reported any case since the outbreak, he added.

"Centre has sent 72 lakh N95 face masks and 36 lakh PPE kits to the states so far," informed Dr Vardhan.

According to the health minister, there are 4,362 Covid-19 care centres across the country where 3,46,856 patients with mild or very mild symptoms can be kept.

Meanwhile, the total number of coronavirus cases in India jumped to 62,939 after 3,277 covid-19 infections were detected in past 24 hours, showed figures released by the Health Ministry today morning. The death toll due to coronavirus-related complications went up to 2,109. In 24 hours, the death toll rose by 128.

DRDO develops devices to sanitise phones, currency notes

HYDERABAD, May 11: The RCI, a premier laboratory of DRDO based at Hyderabad, has developed an automated contactless UVC sanitising cabinet to sanitise mobile phones, iPads, laptops, currency notes, cheque leafs, challans, passbooks, and paper.

Research Centre Imarat (RCI), a part of Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), developed the Defence Research Ultraviolet Sanitiser (DRUVS).

DRDO said on Sunday that DRUVS Cabinet has a contactless operation which is very important to contain the spread of virus. The proximity sensor switches clubbed with drawer opening and closing mechanism makes its operation automatic and contactless.

The DRUVS provides 360 degree exposure of UVC to the objects placed inside the cabinet. Once the sanitisation is done, the system goes in sleep mode, hence the operator need not wait or stand near the device, said a statement.

RCI has also developed an automated UVC currency sanitising device called NOTESCLEAN. Bundles of currency notes can be sanitised using DRUVS, however disinfection of each currency note using it, will be a time-consuming process. For that purpose, a sanitising technique has been developed, where one has to just place the loose currency notes at the input slot of the device. It picks the notes one by one and makes them pass through a series of UVC lamps for complete disinfection, it said.

Fresh infections, deaths rising faster in India than most countries

NEW DELHI, May 9: The number of reported coronavirus cases in India rose 13 percent over the past two days to 59,662, data from the morning update of the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) showed. This is a slightly slower rate of increase compared to the previous 48 hours, when the reported case count rose 14 percent to 52,952.

So far this week, the number of cases has gone up by 40 percent (between Monday morning and Saturday morning). This is a much faster rate of increase compared to the previous five days, when confirmed cases had risen by 29 percent.

Although India’s coronavirus trajectory has tapered since last month, it continues to be steeper compared to Asian peers such as Japan and Singapore. The rise of infections and deaths in India is now faster than in most other countries.

India’s case count is now roughly double what it was eleven days ago. This is much slower compared to early-April, when cases were doubling every four days. Deaths have also seen slower rise compared to the trend in early-April but have picked up pace over the past week. India’s death toll from covid-19 as of today morning was 1,981, roughly double what it was ten days ago.

At the current rate of compounded daily growth, the number of cases could rise to 75,000 in four days. If this trajectory continues beyond that period, it could overwhelm India’s hospital capacity and strain an already overburdened health system.

At 14,862, Maharashtra leads in terms of the number of active cases, according to the health ministry update this morning. Active cases exclude deaths and recoveries from the list of confirmed cases.

Gujarat has the second most number of active cases (5,081), followed by Tamil Nadu (4,364). At 4,230 active cases, Delhi has the fourth-highest number of active cases, followed by Madhya Pradesh (1,792). The top five states together account for 76 percent of the active cases nationally, and the top ten states account for 94 percent of all cases.

Nationally, the active case count was 39,834 as of today morning. These are early days yet and the state-wise distribution could change in the coming days as testing expands across states.

Over the past seven days, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Delhi have seen the highest spike in cases among the top ten states with most cases. These three states account for 44 percent of all the new active cases in this period. Over the same period, fatalities have surged the most in West Bengal, Gujarat, and Rajasthan. These three states account for 34 percent of all covid-related deaths over the past seven days.

Among top ten states with most active cases, the case fatality rates are the highest in West Bengal (9.5%), Gujarat (6%), and Madhya Pradesh (6%). India’s case fatality rate now stands at 3.2%. Among all states, the case fatality rates are lowest in Tamil Nadu (0.7%), Odisha (0.7%), and Kerala (0.8%).

Over the past two days, Mumbai, Chennai, Thane, Ahmedabad and Thiruvallur (Tamil Nadu) districts have seen the biggest spike in confirmed cases nationally. These five districts account for 53 percent of new cases over this period, data compiled by last evening shows. Other districts that have seen a sharp spike over the past two days are Nashik (Maharashtra), Kolkata, and Bhopal.

So far, 519 districts have confirmed cases in the country. Mumbai (12,904 cases) has reported the most number of cases nationally among all districts, followed by Ahmedabad (4,991) in Gujarat. Chennai (3,052) in Tamil Nadu, Pune (2,269) in Maharashtra, and Thane (1,889) in Maharashtra are the other leading districts. These top five districts now account for 42 percent of confirmed cases in the country.

Indore (1,727) in Madhya Pradesh, New Delhi (1,458), Jaipur (1,131) in Rajasthan, Jodhpur (876) in Rajasthan, and Kolkata (873) in West Bengal are the other high-burden districts which figure in the list of top ten districts. The top ten districts account for 54 percent of the confirmed cases nationally.

Most of India’s hotspots so far have been urban affluent districts, with richer states hit harder than the rest.

The coronavirus case count has crossed 3.9 million globally even as several parts of the country and the world remain under lockdown to contain the pandemic.

Italian scientists claim to have developed vaccine that neutralises coronavirus

ROME, May 6: A team of Italian scientists has claimed to have developed a couple of vaccines that they claim neutralises the novel coronavirus in human cells.

This could be among the most visible progress amongst the hundreds of vaccine candidates that are being tested around the world against the virus that has caused a global pandemic and visibly sunk the economy into a recession.

The report on Arab News, quoting Italian news agency ANSA, said a team of scientists from the company Takis was able to isolate antibodies in mice that blocked the virus from infecting human cells.

Testing was carried out at Rome's Spallanzani Institute.

The vaccine candidates currently being developed are based on the genetic material of DNA protein "spike". Researchers said the vaccine will be injected intramuscularly which will be followed by a brief electrical impulse.

"Researchers believe that this makes their vaccine particularly effective for generating functional antibodies against the “spike” protein, in particular in the lung cells, which are the most vulnerable to coronavirus," the report said.

The report quoted Luigi Aurisicchio, CEO of Takis, as saying that the company was keen to collaborate internationally to speed up the process of development of the vaccine.

The coronavirus pandemic has put the global scientific community in mission mode to develop a vaccine. Ordinarily, it takes at least five years to develop a vaccine but experts say that period could be shorter in this case.

"It could be as little as 9 months or as long as two years," billionaire Bill Gates whose foundation is heavily involved in combating diseases around the world.

In a recent note, Gates said he was particularly excited by the RNA and DNA novel approaches in developing a vaccine.

The approach has been tested for diseases like malaria but COVID-19 could possibly be the first disease for which it may actually be implemented.

"Rather than injecting a pathogen’s antigen into your body, you instead give the body the genetic code needed to produce that antigen itself. When the antigens appear on the outside of your cells, your immune system attacks them—and learns how to defeat future intruders in the process. You essentially turn your body into its own vaccine manufacturing unit," Gates said.

But Gates warned that a road to a safe and efficacious vaccine is long, not least because of the progress that needs to be made, besides later manufacturing them at scale.

India's Coronavirus Case Tally Crosses 52,000

NEW DELHI, May 6: The nationwide tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases crossed 52,000 on Wednesday with many big urban centres detecting larger spread of the infection and many healthcare professionals as well as security personnel testing positive. Authorities also flagged a high fatality rate in states like West Bengal, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

While some positive news came from Kerala with no new infection being detected there despite the state being among the first to witness the spread, Maharashtra reported a record daily increase of more than 1,200.

However, according to data from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the death toll in the country currently stands at 1,694 and the number of cases at 49,391, registering an increase of 126 deaths and 2,958 cases in the last 24 hours.

The ministry on Tuesday had said the nationwide case status will be updated on its website only once a day in the morning instead of twice a day as was being previously done.

“In the last 24 hours, 1,457 patients recovered, taking the total of recovered people to 14,183. This takes the total recovery rate to 28.72%," said a senior ministry official.

But a tally of figures reported by different states and union territories till 9.15pm on Wednesday put the total number of confirmed cases at 52,345 and the death toll at 1,702.

While Maharashtra has reported the maximum number of cases and fatalities, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka and Punjab are among other major states affected badly.

Kerala also has reported more than 500 confirmed cases so far, but it did not report a single new case on Wednesday and the state government officials said the number of active patients is now only 30 as a big majority of COVID-19 patients have recovered.

According to the ministry figures, 111 deaths were reported since Tuesday evening of which 49 were from Gujarat, 34 from Maharashtra, 12 from Rajasthan, seven from West Bengal, three from Uttar Pradesh, two each from Punjab and Tamil Nadu, and one each from Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh.

Of the 1,694 fatalities, Maharashtra tops the tally with 617. Gujarat is second with 368 deaths, followed by MP at 176, West Bengal at 140, Rajasthan at 89, Delhi at 64, UP at 56 and Andhra Pradesh at 36.

The death toll reached 33 in Tamil Nadu, 29 in Telangana and 29 in Karnataka. Punjab registered 25 deaths, Jammu and Kashmir eight, Haryana six and Kerala and Bihar four each. Jharkhand has recorded three fatalities.

Meghalaya, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Assam and Uttarakhand have reported one fatality each, according to the ministry data.

As per the ministry data updated in the morning, the highest number of confirmed cases are from Maharashtra at 15,525, followed by Gujarat at 6,245, Delhi at 5,104, Tamil Nadu at 4,058, Rajasthan at 3,158, MP at 3,049 and UP at 2,880.

The number of cases has gone up to 1,717 in Andhra Pradesh and 1,451 in Punjab. It has risen to 1,344 in West Bengal, 1,096 in Telangana, 741 in Jammu and Kashmir, 671 in Karnataka, 548 in Haryana and 536 in Bihar.

Kerala has reported 502 coronavirus cases so far, while Odisha has 175. A total of 125 people have been infected with the virus in Jharkhand and 111 in Chandigarh.

Uttarakhand has reported 61 cases, Chhattisgarh 59, Assam 43, Himachal Pradesh 42 and Ladakh 41. Thirty-three cases have been reported from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Tripura has registered 43 cases, Meghalaya 12 and Puducherry nine, while Goa has seven COVID-19 cases.

Manipur has two cases. Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Dadar and Nagar Haveli have reported a case each.

Israel Develops Antibody Against Coronavirus

JERUSALEM, May 5: Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett has said that scientists at the country's main biological research institute have made a "significant breakthrough" in developing an antibody to the novel coronavirus, as the researchers wrapped up the development phase and moved to patent and mass produce the potential treatment.

Bennett visited the labs of the Israel's Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), supervised by the Prime Minister's Office and mandated to develop a vaccine for coronavirus, in Ness Ziona on Monday and was shown the "antibody that attacks the virus in a monoclonal way and can neutralize it within the bodies of those ill", a statement from his office said.

The statement said that the antibody's development had been completed and that the institute was in the process of patenting the find "and in the next stage, researchers will approach international companies to produce the antibody on a commercial scale".

"I am proud of the institute staff for this terrific breakthrough," Bennett said, adding that "their creativity and the Jewish mind brought about this amazing achievement".

In March, Israeli daily Ha'aretz, quoting medical sources, had reported that scientists at the institute had made a significant breakthrough in understanding the biological mechanism and qualities of the virus, including better diagnostic capability, production of antibodies for those who already have the virus and development of a vaccine.

It was not immediately clear if the breakthrough presented to Bennett was in addition to progress that was reported in late March, and no further details were provided.

The statement also did not specify whether human trials were conducted.

The IIBR was established in 1952 as part of the Israel Defence Forces' Science Corps, and later became a civilian organization.

It is technically under the supervision of the Prime Minister's Office, but is in close communication with the Defence Ministry.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to have ordered the institute to devote resources to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 on February 1.

The Defence Ministry in March had denied any breakthrough simply stating that "if and when there will be something to report, it will be done in an orderly fashion", the Defence Ministry told Ha''aretz at the time.

"The biological institute is a world-renowned research and development agency, which relies on experienced researchers and scientists with great knowledge and quality infrastructures. There are now more than 50 experienced scientists working at the institute on researching and developing a medical remedy for the virus", it had said.

The normal process of development of such a vaccine requires a long process of pre-clinical trials on animals, followed by clinical trials. This period allows for a full characterization of side effects and a better understanding of how different populations are affected.

Five shipments of virus samples arrived in Israel from Japan, Italy and other countries, news portal Ynet reported in February.

They were brought by a specially secured Defence Ministry courier to IIBR and had been frozen at -80 degrees Celsius.

There has been intensive work, including by leading experts, to develop the vaccine since then.

Experts believe that the length of time needed to develop a vaccine runs from a few months to a year and a half.

Numerous research teams all over the world are participating in the race to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Many of them at this point are focusing on the way the virus presents itself in animals, with the biggest hurdle being the way it morphs when it moves from animals to human beings.

China released the genetic sequence of the virus on open scientific databases shortly after its outbreak in January so that research institutes and commercial companies could try to develop treatments and vaccines without requiring to obtain samples.

Many private companies have also made claims of having successfully developed treatment against COVID-19, but there isn't a proven track record on display yet.

The novel coronavirus, which first emerged in China in late December, has so far killed over 2.5 lakh people and infected more than 3.6 million globally.

COVID-19 cases in India rise to 46,000

NEW DELHI, May 5: The number of new COVID-19 cases in India hit a new high today with states registering 3,900 coronavirus patients in last 24 hours. The total number of coronavirus cases in the country climbed to 46,433. Tamil Nadu became the second state after Maharashtra to add more than 500 cases in a day.

The death toll in the country rose to 1,568 as 195 more people died due to coronavirus infection on Monday. Maharashtra was the only state to record over 500 COVID-19 related deaths. As many as 35 people succumbed to death in the state in last 24 hours.

There were 32,138 active coronavirus patients in India, according to ministry of health and welfare. Over 12,000 were recovered from the disease.

Maharashtra continued to report the highest number of cases even on Monday. The total number of coronavirus patients in the state stood at 14,541 after over 1,500 people confirmed positive for coronavirus in last 24 hours. Mumbai alone accounted for 9,000 COVID-19 patients.

Tamil Nadu saw a record hike in coronavirus cases as 527 people tested positive for COVID-19 disease in last 24 hours. The death toll in the state increased to 31.

Gujarat, Rajashthan, Haryana, West Bengal also confirmed a huge single-day rise in COVID-19 count. Gujarat reported 376 fresh coronavirus cases, taking the total coronavirus count in the state to 5,804.

West Bengal also witnessed the biggest single-day spike in COVID-19 count as 296 people were confirmed positive for the disease.

The COVID-19 curve in India is relatively flat and the peak "may never come" if the work is done collectively, health ministry said in its daily briefing.

"During lockdown and containment activities, we have been able to control cases relatively," said health ministry joint secratary Lav Agarwal.

Worldwide coronavirus cases exceed 3.5 million: Report

GENEVA, May 4: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide surpassed 3.5 million on Monday, with three quarters of them in Europe and the United States, according to a tally based on official sources showed.

At least 3,500,517 infections and 246,893 deaths have been recorded globally. Europe is the continent most affected with more than 1.5 million cases and over 143,000 fatalities.

The United States has registered more than 1.1 million cases and 67,000 deaths.

The numbers around the world reflect only a fraction of the real figures as many countries test only serious cases.

Coronavirus cases in India near 40,000, highest jump in 24 hours

NEW DELHI, May 3: The tally of confirmed coronavirus cases in India is approaching 40,000, with a record 2,644 new cases detected in the last 24 hours. The death toll from Covid-19 has gone up to to 1,301 after 83 coronavirus-linked deaths were reported in 24 hours.

Recoveries from Covid-19 infection has also crossed 10,600. Authorities across states will ease some lockdown restrictions from tomorrow, including opening of more categories of shops and business establishments, in areas with limited or zero infection cases.

Maharashtra alone reported 12,296 coronavirus cases, while its death toll also rose to 521. Gujarat reported 5,054 cases with 262 covid-19 related deaths.

According to an Indian Council of Medical Research, the India has conducted over one million RT-PCR test for detection of COVID-19. This test facility is now available in 292 government and 97 private facilities across the country.

The other states that have seen the most number of cases include Delhi (4122), Tamil Nadu (2757), Rajasthan (2770), Madhya Pradesh (2846), Uttar Pradesh (2487) and Telangana (1063).

US allows emergency use of Remdesivir to treat coronavirus patients

WASHINGTON, May 2: The US food and drug regulatory body has allowed emergency use of an investigational anti-viral vaccine to treat Covid-19 patients after some researches, including one led by an Indian-American physician, found that the drug helped recover some of the infected cases faster.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave emergency use authorization (EUA) for the use of investigational anti-viral Remdesivir in the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

The FDA authorization came after researches, including one led by Indian-American physician Aruna Subramanian, reported Remdesivir shortened the recovery times in people who have fallen ill from the new coronavirus.

“I”m pleased to announce that Gilead now has an EUA (emergency use authorization) from the FDA for Remdesivir,” US President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday.

Trump said that EUA is an important treatment for hospitalized coronavirus patients.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that this is a significant step forward in battling COVID-19.

The EUA allows for Remdesivir to be distributed in the US and administered intravenously by health care providers, as appropriate, to treat suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in adults and children hospitalized with severe condition.

By Friday, over 63,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus and over one million have tested positive with COVID-19.

Trump said that his administration has been doing work with the teams at the FDA, National Institute of Health and Gilead for spearheading this public-private partnership to make this happen very quickly.

“I think this really illustrates what can happen in such a short time. For the first case, that was diagnosed in the United States to now, our first step forward with a therapeutic in less than 90 days,” said Deborah Birx, a member of the White House Task Force on Coronavirus.

In a statement, Gilead said that the EUA will facilitate broader use of Remdesivir to treat hospitalised patients with severe Covid-19 disease, enabling access to the vaccine at additional hospitals across the country.

Remdesivir is authorized for the treatment of hospitalised patients with severe Covid-19 disease, it said, adding that the optimal duration of treatment is still being studied in ongoing clinical trials.

Under the EUA, both five-day and 10-day treatment durations are suggested, based on the severity of disease. The authorisation is temporary and does not take the place of the formal new drug application submission, review and approval process, Gilead noted.

“This EUA opens the way for us to provide emergency use of Remdesivir to more patients with severe symptoms of COVID-19,” said Daniel O’Day, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Gilead Sciences.

“We will continue to work with partners across the globe to increase our supply of Remdesivir while advancing our ongoing clinical trials to supplement our understanding of the drug”s profile. We are working to meet the needs of patients, their families and healthcare workers around the world with the greatest sense of urgency and responsibility,” he said.

According to Gilead, the EUA is based on available data from two global clinical trials – the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ placebo-controlled Phase 3 study in patients with moderate to severe symptoms of Covid-19, including those who were critically ill, and Gilead”s global Phase 3 study evaluating 5-day and 10-day dosing durations of Remdesivir in patients with severe disease.

Multiple additional clinical trials are ongoing to generate more data on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine as a treatment for Covid-19, it said.

Indian-American Subramanian, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Chief, Immunocompromised Host Infectious Diseases, Stanford University School of Medicine, is one of the lead investigators of the study.

Earlier in an interview to Fox news, Subramanian said that “there”s a lot more work to be done in terms of exactly who should get this drug, what is the best timing, who is at highest risk for having complications And what can we add to this or what can we improve upon this to make outcomes even better.”

“This (remdesivir) is a direct-acting antiviral. It has been shown to have great promise in the lab and in animal models and for the first time now in human clinical trials,” Subramanian told Fox News.

“We know that so far, it”s been very safe and tolerable. We”ve had good clinical outcomes and yesterday we found that compared to placebo, that is people who are given no medication, people do much better,” she said.

FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn said, “today”s action is an important step in our efforts to collaborate with innovators and researchers to provide sick patients timely access to new therapies where appropriate, while at the same time supporting research to further evaluate whether they are safe and effective.”

With record 2,411 new Covid-19 cases in a day, India's count nears 38,000-mark

NEW DELHI, May 2: With record 2,411 new cases in past 24 hours, the total number of Covid-19 cases in the country climbed to 37,776 on Saturday evening, the Union Health Ministry said. The tally also includes 111 foreign nationals, the Health Ministry said. India's case count on Friday evening stood at 35,365.

Of the total cases, 26,535 are active, 10,017 people have recovered. With 71 more deaths in the last 24 hours, the country's death toll stands at 1,223.

Maharashtra remained the worst-hit state with the total number of cases rising to 11,506 with 485 deaths, although 1,879 people have also recovered from the deadly virus.

Gujarat is the second most affected state as it reported 4,721 cases so far, followed by Delhi with 3,738 cases, according to the Health Ministry data.

The other states which have seen sharp rise in cases are Madhya Pradesh (2,719), Rajasthan (2,666), Tamil Nadu (2,526) and Uttar Pradesh (2,455).

Maharashtra has the highest number of fatalities among all the states, followed by Gujarat with 236 deaths, Madhya Pradesh 145 and Delhi 61.

Nearly 10 lakh tests are said to have been conducted so far across India.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is planning to study whether the novel coronavirus strain in India has undergone mutation while spreading within the country over the last two months.

India lockdown extended by 2 weeks but restrictions eased

NEW DELHI, May 1: The Home Ministry on Friday extended the national lockdown for two more weeks but eased the restrictions, more in districts that have been classified as green, orange and red zones.

Some activities such as air travel, rail, metro and inter-state movement of people will continue to be restricted irrespective of the zones. Schools, colleges and other coaching institutions, hotels and cinema halls, malls and places of worship will have to remain closed irrespective of the zone.

Green Zones

Except for these activities that are banned across the country, a home ministry statement said, all other activities are permitted in green zones. Even buses can run within the green zone provided they operate with less than 50 percent of its seating capacity.

Red Zones

All industrial and construction activity can resume and shops can open in rural areas, even if they are in a red zone.

Manufacturing units of essential goods including drugs, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, their raw material and intermediates; production units, which require continuous process, and their supply chain, jute industry with staggered shifts and social distancing; and manufacturing of IT hardware and manufacturing units of packaging material will continue to be permitted.

Standalone shops in urban areas are also allowed without any distinction of essential and non-essential. E-Commerce activities, in the Red Zones, are permitted only in respect of essential goods.

Private offices can operate with upto 33% strength as per requirement, with the remaining persons working from home. All Government offices shall function with senior officers of the level of Deputy Secretary and above at full strength, and the remaining staff attending upto 33% as per requirement.

Orange Zones

In addition, taxis and cab aggregators will be permitted with 1 driver and 1 passenger in the orange zones.

There will, however, be restrictions on inter-district movement of individuals and vehicles will be allowed only for permitted activities. Four wheeler vehicles will have maximum two passengers besides the driver and pillion riding will be allowed on two-wheelers.

COVID-19 cases in India cross 35,000, death toll at 1,147

NEW DELHI, May 1: India crossed the grim milestone of 35,000 coronavirus cases as the states registered another record hike in patients. A staggering 1,993 new cases were recorded in last 24 hours. The total number of coronavirus patients in India climbed to 35,043, according to ministry of health and family welfare.

The death toll from COVID-19 zoomed to 73 on Thursday, the highest reported so far in a single day. The deadly novel coronavirus claimed 1,147 lives in India.

Maharashtra accounted for nearly half of Thursday's national COVID-19 count. As many as 583 people tested positive for the coronavirus in the state. With this, Maharashtra COVID-19 count increased to 10,498. On Thursday, the state recorded over 15 deaths, taking the total number of fatalities to 459. Maharashtra became the first state to witness 10,000 coronavirus cases.

With 313 fresh cases on Thursday, the coronavirus cases in Gujarat rose to 4,395. After Maharashtra, Gujarat was the worst affected state by COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Delhi increased to 3,515 as 76 new cases were recorded in last 24 hours. The death toll in the national capital stood at 59.

Madhya Pradesh witnessed a drop in fresh COVID-19 cases. The state added 99 new coronavirus cases in last 24 hours.

Tamil Nadu added 161 fresh cases on Thursday, taking the total coronavirus count in the state to 2,323.

Over 25% of coronavirus patients have been recovered from the disease so far. At least 8,888 people were cured, according to ministry of health and family welfare. Currently, there are 25,007 active coronavirus patients in India.

As the 40-day nationwide lockdown nears an end on May 4, India plans a staggered exit from the lockdown. At first, the restrictions will be relaxed in those areas which have not reported coronavirus cases in last 28 days.



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