Here are the top 10 points in this big story:
The Prime Minister's Office is reviewing the 60-day lockdown period; the country first went under lockdown on March 25, following a "janata curfew (public curfew)" three days earlier. Relaxations in non-containment zones have been eased in the current lockdown phase, based on requests from states. Domestic air travel has also been re-started. However, the relaxations were accompanied by a spike in cases.
After questions over its refusal to act on the migrant crisis, the Supreme Court will today hear action taken on the "problems and miseries" of labourers stranded by the lockdown. A notice was issued this week to the governments at the centre, state and union territories, asking them to report on "steps taken to redeem the miseries" of migrant labourers. The humanitarian crisis triggered by the lockdown was highlighted by heart-breaking images yesterday of a baby playing with a shroud covering its dead mother at a railway station in Bihar.
According to estimates from the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy published by Bloomberg, around 122 million Indians were forced out of jobs in April alone. Daily wage workers and those employed by small businesses have been worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown. A study by the United Nations estimates 104 million Indians could fall below the World Bank-determined poverty line of $3.2 per day, taking the proportion of people living in poverty from 60 per cent to 68 per cent - or to levels last seen over a decade ago.
Delhi crossed the 15,000-mark in COVID-19 infections this week, with 792 cases reported in 24 hours, health authorities said Wednesday evening. The new cases also represent the largest single-day spike in new cases and the first time that over 700 cases have been detected in the national capital in 24 hours. The total number of cases in Delhi, as of Thursday morning, is 15,257 with 303 deaths.
Tamil Nadu reported its biggest single-day spike in fresh COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, with 817 new cases reported. This included 138 people returning from Maharashtra, the worst-affected state. Overall, Tamil Nadu has reported 18,545 cases with 133 deaths linked to the virus. 558 of the day's new cases were from state capital Chennai, taking the city's tally past 12,000.
Jammu and Kashmir also reported its biggest single-day spike in new cases on Wednesday, with 162 testing positive and raising the overall count to 1,921. Two fresh deaths were also reported, taking the number of dead to 26. According to officials, the number of active cases is divided between 288 in Jammu and 753 in Kashmir.
Amid a worrying increase in COVID-19 cases, Assam is also dealing with flood rescue and relief efforts. Over 16,000 have already been moved to relief camps; in the worst-hit Goalpara district over 2.15 lakh are already affected. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has asked the state administration to impose strict maintenance of COVID-19 protocols in the flood relief camps across the state. Meanwhile, a spike in new cases on Wednesday took the state total to 774.
A coronavirus vaccine is possible by December or January 2021, Anthony Fauci, Director of the United States' National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was quoted in a report by news agency Reuters. "If all the cards fall into the right place and all the stars are aligned, you definitely could get a vaccine by December or January," he said.
The number of COVID-19-related deaths in the United States has crossed the 1 lakh-mark, news agency AFP has said, quoting figures by Johns Hopkins University. The total cases in the worst-affected country have crossed 17 lakh, the report added. Meanwhile, as Europe limps back to a measure of normalcy, Brazil recorded most daily deaths in the world for a fifth straight day on Wednesday, pushing its total to 24,512 and number of cases to nearly four lakh.
After denying US allegations of the coronavirus originating from a bio-lab in Wuhan, Chinese researchers have debunked reports the virus came from a wet market in the city selling live animals. There is no direct evidence that cross-species COVID-19 transmission occurred in the Huanan market in Wuhan, although it was a probable place for human-to-human transmission, a Chinese researcher told state-run Global Times.
With input from AFP, Reuters