The Centre on Tuesday said Covid-19 is spreading faster in the country than during the last year and cautioned the next four weeks are “very very critical” as it sought people’s participation to control the second wave of the pandemic.
Delhi also joined growing number of states to impose night curfew in view of the surge in coronavirus infections as the national capital recorded 5,100 fresh cases on Tuesday, the highest this year. The curfew from 10pm to 5am will be in force with immediate effect till April 30.
Two top Central officials sounded a note of caution at a news conference amid indications on Tuesday night the country may have recorded a single-day rise of over 1 lakh new cases for the second time and surpassed the previous high. India on Sunday registered an all-time high of 1,03,558 cases in 24 hours.
A total of 96,982 cases were reported in 24 hours, while the death toll jumped to 1,65,547 with 446 daily new fatalities, according to the Union Health Ministry data.
The Centre, meanwhile, responded to growing demands the age limit for Covid-19 vaccination be relaxed in view of the spike in cases, saying the aim is to protect those who are most vulnerable, and not to “administer the vaccine to those who want it but to those who need it”.
NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr VK Paul said the pandemic situation in India has worsened with a sharp rise in cases, and a large part of the population is still susceptible to the virus. “The intensity of the pandemic has increased and it is spreading faster than last time. In some states, it is worse than others but the upswing can be observed across the country,” he said.
Detailing the Covid-19 situation in India, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said Chhattisgarh's Durg is among top 10 districts with high active Covid cases while 7 are in Maharashtra, 1 in Karnataka. Delhi, counted as one district, is also in the list, he said.
The 10 districts with the highest number of new cases are Pune, Mumbai, Thane, Nagpur, Nashik, Bengaluru Urban, Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Delhi and Durg, he added. Bhushan added Maharashtra, Punjab and Chhattisgarh still remain the states of "maximum concern".
Given their population, the death numbers being reported by Punjab and Chhatisgarh are a cause of extreme concern, he said.
The Union Health Ministry said over 43 lakh Covid-19 vaccine doses were administered in 24 hours on April 5, the highest single-day coverage till now, taking the total doses given in the country so far to 8,31,10,926. “This is the highest single day vaccination coverage in the country so far,” the ministry said.
In another development, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has written to PM Modi suggesting vaccination be allowed for all people above the age of 18 years.
Further, the Gujarat High Court said the Covid-19 situation in the state was getting “out of control”, and suggested a curfew or lockdown could be imposed for 3-4 days to break the chain.
Centre asks above 45 years staff to get vaccinated
The Centre on Tuesday asked all its employees aged 45 years and above to get themselves vaccinated to effectively contain the spread of Covid-19. They are further advised to continue to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour even after vaccination by frequent washing of hands and sanitisation, wearing a mask or face cover and observing social distancing, etc., an order issued by the Personnel Ministry said.
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Nitish fears large-scale reverse migration again; Chief Justice lands in Patna AIIMS
LAW KUMAR MISHRA
As Corona positive cases rose to an alarming level in 8 districts of Bihar, CM Nitish Kumar on Tuesday directed the officials to take preventive measures as large-scale reverse migration from the corona-hit states would take place. The Patna HC was also hit by the virus on Tuesday. The HC, which had reopened on Monday after Holi vacations, was shut down within 24 hours as many lawyers complained of corona attack. Chief Justice of Patna High Court Justice Sanjay Karo, who tested positive, was rushed to AIIMS here and admitted in emergency ward.
Plan night curfew: Allahabad HC to UP
Expressing concern about the second Covid-19 surge in Uttar Pradesh, the Allahabad High Court has suggested to the Yogi government to plan a night curfew and launch door-to-door vaccination drive for people above 45.
Passing an order on the PIL, a 2-member bench comprising Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Siddharth Varma, directed DGP HC Awasthy to not allow assembly of people at any public place in view of the forthcoming panchayat poll.
The court also ordered all the district magistrates to ensure 100% implementation of the Covid-19 guidelines and protocol. “Initiate action against those violating norms, like not wearing masks and not maintaining social distance in public places,” ordered the court.
The court also suggested to the state government to enforce night curfew to check assembly of people in late night functions. The bench directed the state to ensure candidates follow the guidelines during the campaign.
The bench asked the government to conduct tests on High School and Intermediate students still going to colleges. The court has fixed April 8 as the next hearing through video-conferencing.
Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of 5,928 cases on Tuesday with 31 deaths. Now, the total tally has shot up by 27,509 cases in the state.
Meanwhile, 40 doctors, including the vice-chancellor and medical superintendent, of King George’s Medical University in Lucknow tested positive on Tuesday. VC Dr Vipin Puri and MS Dr D Himandhu had received both doses of the vaccine.
Karnataka reports big jump in cases
Karnataka a reported a huge jump in new Covid-19 cases with 6,150 people testing positive on Tuesday. The big worry is Bengaluru, which reported 4,266 new Covid cases, taking the total Covid tally in Bengaluru to 32,605. Of the 39 Covid-related deaths in the state on Tuesday, Bengaluru accounted for 26. Kalburgi recorded 261 new cases followed by Mysuru (237) and Tumakuru (157). In view of the surge, civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Commissioner Gaurav Gupta has instructed zonal authorities to expedite the vaccination process. The BBMP Commissioner said that around 35,000 people are being inoculated in the city on a daily basis, and has directed zonal authorities to nearly double the number of Covid vaccinations. Bengaluru also reported a new Covid cluster on Tuesday in the Chickpet area, with 39 residents of an apartment testing positive for the coronavirus.