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Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said the rising number of COVID cases, a high positivity rate and low testing level in parts of the national capital was worrisome.
The Health Minister stressed on a need for ramping up testing, coupled with aggressive surveillance, contact tracing and stringent containment and perimeter control measures.
The government on Thursday announced new rules for allowing shopping malls, restaurants, hotels and places of worship to open gradually following the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown.
The guidelines, which will come into effect from Monday, include measures like staggering visitors to malls and no touching of idols at religious places. Detailed rules were also issued for offices which have been allowed to reopen over the past few weeks. All establishments that come under containment zones, however, will remain closed as announced earlier.
Employees of the establishments who are at higher risk -- like older staff members or those who are pregnant or have underlying medical conditions - should take extra precautions. It also asked hotels and restaurant owners to encourage contactless mode of ordering and digital payments.
Maharashtra registered its highest single-day spike of 2,933 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, taking its tally of confirmed cases to 77,793, while the number of deaths rose to 2,710 after 123 fresh fatalities. The number of discharged patients in the state also rose to 33,681.
In West Bengal, COVID-19 deaths rose to 283 with 10 more fatalities, while the state's case count rose by 368 to 6,876 on Thursday. Tamil Nadu also reported its highest single-day spike of 1,384 cases to take its tally to 27,256, while the number of deaths rose to 220.
Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said that any misconduct at quarantine centres will amount to non-bailable charges equivalent to "attempt to murder".
Three of the four authors behind a large-scale study in The Lancet that raised safety fears over the use of common anti-malarial drugs to treat COVID-19 retracted their paper on Thursday, blaming a healthcare company that supplied the dataset.
The finding led the World Health Organization to suspend clinical trials into the medicines, but it was soon followed by widespread concern among scientists over a lack of information about the countries and hospitals that contributed data.