COVID-19 Cases in India: Across world, nearly 14.96 crore people have been infected so far (File)
The Centre today told the Supreme Court there is more than adequate stock of oxygen to meet the demand and that there is no need to panic. "There is no shortage of medical oxygen in the country, supply being augmented for COVID-19 relief," the Centre said, at the hearing on issues related to COVID-19.
Earlier, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to adopt national immunisation model as poor people will not be able to pay for coronavirus vaccines. "What happens to the marginalised and SC/ST population? Should they be left to the mercy of private hospitals," it asked.
The top court said the government must consider National Immunisation Programme for various vaccines and must think of providing free vaccination to all citizens. Private vaccine manufacturers cannot be allowed to decide which state should get how much, it added.
The Supreme Court yet again questioned the government over the pricing of vaccines. "Why is the government not buying 100 per cent of doses produced in this time? Why should there be two prices for the centre and the states... what is the rationale," it asked.
Further, it said no state should clampdown information if citizens communicate their grievances on social media. "We don't want any clampdown of information. We will treat it as a contempt of court if such grievances is considered for action. Let a strong message go to all the states and DGP of states", the Supreme Court said.
Coronavirus has infected over 3.86 lakh people in India in yet another worrying high and killed 3,498 the last 24 hours. The record numbers come even as a huge international aid operation has been launched with many countries promising help.
Here are the Latest News Highlights:
Assam Extends Night Curfew Till May 7 Amid Covid Surge
The Assam government on Friday extended the night curfew till May 7, following a surge in COVID-19 cases in the state.
The restrictions on movement of individuals from 8 pm to 5 am were to end on Saturday.
All shops and market places will close by 6 pm, though pharmacies, hospitals, animal care centres and veterinary clinics may operate without restrictions, being providers of essential services, according to an official order by Chief Secretary Jishnu Baruah.
Services like electricity, water and sanitation and public transport are also exempt from the purview of the night curfew, it said.
Officials and persons entrusted with election-related work are exempted, too, on production of a valid identity card.
Regarding containment zones, the order said district magistrates shall take the call.
Assam on Friday reported 26 COVID-19 deaths and 3,197 fresh cases.
Over 15.48 Crore Vaccine Doses Administered So Far, 26-Lakh In A Day: Health Ministry
The total number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered across the country has surpassed 15.48 crore with over 26 lakh shots being given till 8 pm on Friday, the Union Health Ministry said.
The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country stands at 15,48,54,096 according to the 8 pm provisional report.
These include 94,10,892 Healthcare Workers (HCWs) who have taken the first dose and 62,40,077 HCWs who have taken the second dose, 1,25,48,925 frontline workers (FLWs) who have received the first dose and 68,11,824 FLWs who have taken the second dose.
Delhi Sees 375 COVID-19 Deaths, Over 27,000 Cases In A Day
Delhi on Friday recorded 375 deaths due to the coronavirus and 27,047 fresh cases with a positivity rate of 32.69 per cent, according to the latest bulletin issued by the city health department.
This is the ninth day on the trot that Delhi has recorded over 300 coronavirus-related deaths.
It had reported 395 deaths, the highest since the pandemic began a year ago, on Thursday; 368 deaths on Wednesday; 381 on Tuesday; 380 on Monday; 350 on Sunday; 357 deaths on Saturday, and 348 on Friday, according to government data.
The national capital had recorded 24,235 cases on Thursday; 25,986 on Wednesday; 24,149 on Tuesday; 20,201 on Monday; 22,933 on Sunday; 24,103 on Saturday; 24,331 on Friday and 26,169 on Thursday.
Tripura Sounds Alert After 3 Covid Strains Found In State
The Tripura government has sounded an alert after the double mutant strain of coronavirus and those of Britain and African variants were found in the state, officials said on Friday.
The state government has decided to hold full-fledged virus tests for passengers entering the state via airways, trains and roadways and quarantine the infected among them, the officials said.
Immediately after the receipt of the test results of outsiders by the state government, Tripura health secretary JK Sinha held a virtual meeting on Thursday with district magistrates, superintendenst of police and the chief medical officers of all the eight districts and asked them to take all precautions and strictly maintain the COVID-19 norms, officials said.
Apollo, Max Hospitals Confirm Rollout Of Vaccine Tomorrow For 18+
Apollo and Max Hospitals will start vaccinating those between 18 and 44 across the country from tomorrow.
Apollo says it will use Covishield shots.
"Realizing the criticality of vaccinating the citizens to mitigate the impact of the second wave of Covid infections, Apollo Hospitals has taken the initiative and made arrangements to procure the vaccines directly from the manufacturers, as per the government directive," the group said in a press statement.
From tomorrow, all above 18 can be vaccinated but several states have said they do not have vaccine supplies to start the drive.
COVID-19: Vaccination for 18-45 age group to start in 10 Gujarat districts from tomorrow
Vaccination against COVID-19 for 18-45 age group will start from May 1 in 10 districts of Gujarat which are affected most by the pandemic, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said on Friday.
The state would be receiving three lakh vaccine doses by evening, he said. Earlier, the government had said there could be a delay as new stocks had not arrived.
The districts where vaccination for those above 18 years of age will start from May 1 are Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Kutch, Mehsana, Bharuch
and Gandhinagar, Rupani said in a video message.
The day before, he had said there were chances of delay in starting the new vaccination phase from May 1.
No Clampdown On Info, Supreme Court Warns In Big Covid Hearing
No state should clamp down on information if citizens communicate their grievances on social media, the Supreme Court said today amid alarming Covid surge in India, stressing the court will "treat this as contempt if any citizen is harassed".
A frightening spike in Covid cases in India - hit by a deadly second Covid wave - has led to a deluge of SOS messages on social media as hospitals scramble for resources. "There should not be any presumption that grievances raised on internet are false," the top court insisted today.
Kerala High Court asks response from state on plea seeking to ensure free treatment of COVID patients
Hearing a Public Interst Litigation (PIL) seeking directions for the state government over medical expenses charged by private hospitals in Kerala, the High Court on Friday directed the state government to take a decision into the matter and sought its response by May 4.
The High Court today heard the plea filed by Advocate Sabu Thomas in which he pleaded for a direction to direct the state to re-fix tariff for the private hospital/nursing homes for the treatment of COVID-19 patients including charges of laboratories and Diagnostic Centers.
A bench consisting of Justice Devan Ramachandran and MR Anitha considered the petition seeking to regulate the exorbitant charges fixed by private hospitals for treatment in Kerala.
"There Is No Shortage Of Medical Oxygen In The Country": Centre Tells Supreme Court
Making a presentation to the Supreme Court, the Centre said there is more than adequate stock of oxygen to meet the demand and that there is no need to panic.
"There is no shortage of medical oxygen in the country, supply being augmented for COVID-19 relief," the Centre said.
"Centre Has Special Responsibility Towards Delhi": Supreme Court At Covid Hearing
The Supreme Court directed the Centre to give 200 metric tonnes of oxygen to Delhi straight away and that it "has an important responsibility as far as citizens of Delhi is concerned."
"If you are aware of the requirement of 700 MT to Delhi, why did you supply only 480 MT?" the top court asked.
"Delhi represents micro problems of the country. Delhi represents people coming around from states. You have to save lives even if Delhi is unable to lift. Centre has special responsibility towards Delhi," it said.
Supreme Court Asks Centre To Adopt "National Immunisation Model"
Supreme Court told the Centre it should adopt national immunisation model as poor people will not be able to pay for coronavirus vaccines.
"What happens to the marginalised and SC/ST population? Should they be left to the mercy of private hospitals," it asked.
"Is It Your Case That Delhi Is Unable To Lift Oxygen?" : Supreme Court To Centre
The Centre told the Supreme Court that Delhi is unable to lift the allocated oxygen quota because of inadequate number of tankers engaged by Delhi government, adding that Delhi is in the process of acquiring more tankers and the situation will improve.
"Is it your case that Delhi is unable to lift oxygen? I want to find the solution to the problem," Justice Chandrachud asked.
"Even Doctors And Healthcare Workers Not Getting Beds": Supreme Court At Covid Hearing
Taking stock of the covid situation in the country, the Supreme Court observed that even doctors and healthcare workers not getting beds and said the situation is grim.
The top court said directed hostels, temples, churches and other places be opened for converting them as Covid care centres.
There Should Be No Clampdown On Dissemination Of Information On Covid: Supreme Court
No state should clampdown information if citizens communicate their grievances on social media, the Supreme Court said today amid an unprecedented surge in Covid cases across the country.
"It is grave concern to me as a citizen or judge. If citizens communicate their grievances on social media, we do not want clamp down on information. Let us hear the voices of citizens," Justice DY Chandrahud stressed today during a hearing.
The top court yet again questioned the government over the pricing of vaccines. "Why is the government not buying 100 per cent of doses produced in this time? Why should there be two prices for the centre and the states... what is the rationale," the Supreme Court asked.
"Don't Queue Up For Vaccines Tomorrow": Arvind Kejriwal Amid Shortage
A day before vaccinations open to all above 18, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged citizens not to queue up for Covid shots as the city has not received vaccine supplies yet.
"Don't queue up for vaccines tomorrow. As soon as vaccines arrive we will let you know, then you can come for shots," Arvind Kejriwal said today.
Rahul Gandhi Condoles Death Of Covid Patients Due To "Lack Of Treatment"
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday expressed condolences to the people who have lost their family members due to "lack" of treatment amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the onset of the pandemic, 2,08,330 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19 in India, as per the government data.
In a tweet, Mr Gandhi said "prayers and sympathy from every state of the country are with you".
"My condolences to the citizens of the country who are losing their loved ones due to lack of treatment. You are not alone in this tragedy - prayers and sympathy from every state of the country are with you," the Congress leader said.
Take Steps To Prevent Spread Of Covid In Villages: Mayawati Tells UP Government
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Friday suggested the Uttar Pradesh government to take necessary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in village areas of the state.
"There is a possibility that COVID-19 can spread in village areas. In such a situation, BSP advises the UP government that it should take necessary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in cities as well as in the village area," she tweeted.
2 Arrested For Black-Marketing Of Remdesivir In Delhi, 10 Vials Seized
Delhi Police arrested two people involved in black-marketing of Remdesivir injections and recovered 10 vials of Remdesivir from them, the police said on Friday.
Police said the team of Sarojini Nagar police station was deployed and arrested the accused who used to sell these injections in the black market at higher prices. They have a set network of persons who used to supply the injections on demand.
The accused have been identified as Abhishek Kumar, who works as housekeeping staff at Safdurjung hospital and Pramod Kumar, who works as brutsmate pharmacy suppliers.
"The accused have disclosed that they are operating in Delhi-NCR and supplying Remdesivir at exorbitant prices of Rs 35000-50000 per piece," the police said.
Dedicated ''Oxygen War Rooms'' To Be Set Up At State, District Level In Kerala
Amid a spike in COVID-19 numbers, Kerala is setting up dedicated oxygen war rooms at the district and state levels.
Taking to twitter Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday said that dedicated oxygen war rooms will function with representatives of the police, health, transportation, disaster management and Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO).
"Dedicated Oxygen War Rooms will function at State and District levels with representatives of Police, Health, Transportation, Disaster Management and PESO. O2 stock is being monitored in the Districts by Collectors. O2 module will be included in Covid Jagratha portal," he said in a tweet.
He said that oxygen stock is being monitored in the districts by collectors and the oxygen module will be included in the COVID-19 Jagratha portal.
First US Covid Emergency Aid Supplies Arrive In India
A US military plane on Friday brought the first emergency coronavirus supplies to help India battle devastating surge in the pandemic.
The military jet carrying more than 400 oxygen cylinders and other hospital equipment and nearly one million rapid coronavirus tests landed at the New Delhi international airport.
Indian Envoy To US Holds Discussions With Pfizer CEO On Covid Relief Efforts
Indian Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu on Thursday (local time) met with Pfizer CEO Albert Bouria to discuss ways in which the COVID-19 vaccine maker can support healthcare efforts in India.
Taking to Twitter, Mr Sandhu said he discussed with the Pfizer CEO on how the company can also strengthen the pandemic response in India, which is in the grip of a devastating second wave of COVID-19.
"Important conversation with @AlbertBourla CEO @pfizer today evening. Discussed ways in which Pfizer could support healthcare efforts incl vaccines in India, and strengthen our pandemic response," he tweeted.
Brazil's Covid Death Count Surpasses 4,00,000
Brazil's death count in the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 400,000 Thursday, as the country struggled to secure enough vaccines and the Senate investigated whether President Jair Bolsonaro's government has exacerbated the crisis.
The health ministry reported 3,001 Covid-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing Brazil's overall count to 401,186 -- second only to the United States.
With 212 million people, the South American giant also has one of the highest mortality rates in the pandemic, at 189 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants -- the worst in the Americas and 14th worldwide.
Brazil has been devastated by a surge in cases since the start of the year that pushed hospitals to the brink of collapse in many areas.
Although it appears to have passed the peak of the new wave, the number of daily deaths remains staggeringly high, at an average of 2,526 over the past week, behind only India.
Pfizer Begins To Export US-Made Covid Shots: Report
Pfizer Inc's shipment of COVID-19 vaccine to Mexico this week includes doses made in its U.S. plant, the first of what are expected to be ongoing exports of its shots from the United States, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.
The vaccine shipment, produced at Pfizer's Kalamazoo, Michigan plant, marks the first time the drugmaker has delivered abroad from U.S facilities after a Trump-era restriction on dose exports expired at the end of March, the source said.
The U.S. government has been under mounting pressure in recent weeks to provide surplus vaccines to other nations desperately in need as it makes swift progress vaccinating its own residents. Many countries where the virus is still rampant are struggling to acquire vaccine supplies to help tame the pandemic.
Wealthy governments have been trying to stock up on COVID-19 shots from Pfizer and Moderna Inc because of their extremely high efficacy and after safety concerns and production problems temporarily sidelined vaccines from AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson.