- 148 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the past 24 hours
- Maharashtra said it would regulate 80% of beds in private hospitals
- The surge in cases comes ahead of the re-opening of domestic flights
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The Maharashtra government has taken control of 80 percent of all private hospital beds in the state till August 31, as it tackles a rising COVID-19 case count and complaints of exorbitant rates. An order late last night enables the government to regulate the use of private beds and also decide the cost of treatment and how much can be billed to patients. The state has reported over 40,000 cases - the most in the country - so far and 1,454 deaths have been confirmed.
On Thursday evening, Maharashtra health officials said the state had registered 2,345 new COVID-19 cases in a 24-hour period, taking the total number of cases to 41,642. This was the fifth consecutive day in which the state reported more than 2,000 new cases. Mumbai, the worst-affected metro city, crossed the 25,000-case mark at the same time with 1,382 new cases.
Air tickets will be capped between Rs 2,000 and Rs 18,600 across seven bands based on flying time, the Civil Aviation Ministry said on Thursday while announcing the "calibrated" re-opening of domestic flights from Monday. Airlines grounded due to the COVID-19 lockdown can resume around a third of their operations starting next week, with SOPs for passengers and staff including web check-ins, use of the Aarogya Setu app and, for cabin crew, full protective gear.
Passengers disembarking from short-haul domestic flights need not go into quarantine, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said yesterday. Mr Puri pointed out that under revised SOPs, those showing symptoms or "red" status on the Aarogya Setu app would not be allowed to enter the airport, let alone board a flight. The minister said quarantine issues for air travel would be addressed in a "pragmatic manner". Shortly after, Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said his state would insist on quarantine.
A meeting of senior opposition leaders will be chaired by interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi today. Those expected to participate include Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has repeatedly clashed with the centre over the COVID-19 crisis, and her Maharashtra counterpart, Uddhav Thackeray. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, BSP chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav will not attend. Sources said the focus will be on the centre's handling of the COVID-19 crisis and include the lack of financial help and the migrant crisis.
The Railways will open reservation counters at select stations from today for booking of only reserved tickets, the national transporter said in a statement. These counters had been closed since the lockdown began in March. Railways Minister Piyush Goyal has also said that more passenger trains will be allowed to run soon. This comes after 200 regular passenger trains were scheduled to operate from June 1. The Railways is already running 15 special passenger trains between Delhi and other cities, as well as hundreds of "shramik (worker)" specials to take stranded migrants back to their home states.
Fewer than eight people per lakh of population in India have been infected, the Health Ministry said Wednesday, comparing it to the global average of 62 people per lakh. The government also said India's per lakh mortality rate (0.24) was better than the global average of 4.2 per lakh. It also pointed to a steady increase in recovery rate from 7.1 per cent in March to 40.31 per cent on Thursday.
Class 10 and 12 board exams have been granted exemption from lockdown measures and these can be conducted, Home Minister Amit Shah said on Wednesday, adding that special buses for students will be arranged by the respective state governments. The Home Minister said some conditions - such as social distancing, the use of sanitisers and face masks - would be mandatory, and exam dates would be staggered.
Global COVID-19 cases has crossed the five-million mark, with Latin America overtaking the US and Europe to report the largest number of new daily cases. It represents a new phase in the virus' spread, which peaked in China in February, before outbreaks in Europe and the US. Latin America accounted for around a third of the 91,000 cases reported earlier this week; Europe and the US accounted for just over 20 per cent each.
Doctors in China have warned the virus may be presenting differently in a new cluster of cases in the northeast of the country, suggesting the pathogen may be changing in unknown ways. Patients in the northern and northeastern provinces appeared to carry the virus longer and take longer to test negative.