Latest News Live Updates: Election Commission Announces Poll Dates For 5 States

Latest News Live Updates: This is the first major set of elections to be held in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic after the Bihar election.

Latest News Live Updates: Election Commission Announces Poll Dates For 5 States

Election Commission of India will hold a press conference at 4:30 pm today. (Representational)

New Delhi:

Elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Puducherry will be held from March 27 and the results will be announced on May 2, the Election Commission said today.

Bengal will vote in eight phases, March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29.

Tamil Nadu and Kerala will vote in a single round on April 6. Puducherry will also vote on the same day.

Assam will vote on March 27, April 1 and April 6.

The model code of conduct is now in place in all the states. More than 18 crore are eligible to vote in these elections, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said.

Here are the Latest News Live Updates:

Feb 27, 2021 02:04 (IST)
COVID tests at airports, railway stations to continue: Assam government
The Assam government on Friday announced that its earlier order of suspending COVID-19 tests at airports and railway stations has been kept in "abeyance" and such clinical examinations at these places will continue. 

Earlier this month, the government had decided to discontinue mandatory COVID-19 testing at airports and railway stations from March 1, 2021, following a decline in new positive cases.

An order issued by Principal Secretary (Health) Samir Sinha said the earlier instruction of cancelling testing on arrival at airports and railway stations from the beginning of March has been kept in "abeyance".
Feb 26, 2021 23:11 (IST)
Over 13,000 Get Covid Vaccine In Delhi Today; Records Dip In Beneficiaries
Over 13,000 beneficiaries received anti-COVID-19 vaccine on Friday in Delhi, a significant fall from the number of people who had got the shots a day before, according to data shared by officials.

Over 3.6 lakh beneficiaries have received the vaccine till date in Delhi since the start of the inoculation drive a month ago, with more than 18,900 people receiving jabs on Thursday.

Out of the total tally, more than 1.46 lakh are healthcare workers and over 2.2 lakh are frontline workers, as per the data.

Coronavirus vaccine shots were administered to more than 13,320 beneficiaries in Delhi on Friday. Four minor cases of AEFI (adverse events following immunisation) were reported, the officials said.
Feb 26, 2021 22:13 (IST)
Fight Not Yet Over, Says Sister On Nodeep Kaur's Bail

The bail granted to labour rights campaigner Nodeep Kaur is far from a victory, her elder sister Rajvir Kaur said on Friday, noting that the fight is still on as the list of activists lodged in jails is "very long".

Ms Kaur was on Friday granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, around six weeks after her arrest in a criminal case filed under several charges, including attempt to murder.

Ms Kaur was arrested in Haryana's Sonipat for allegedly gheraoing an industrial unit and demanding money from a company on January 12. Police had claimed that a team of cops was allegedly attacked with sticks, resulting in injuries to seven policemen in the incident.

Feb 26, 2021 21:38 (IST)
"Will Go To Singhu, Sit With Farmers": Activist Nodeep Kaur Out Of Jail
Nodeep Kaur, the 23-year-old labour rights activist who was released on bail on Friday following global outrage, told NDTV that she will visit the Singhu border near Delhi where farmers have been protesting against the centre's agricultural laws for three months and join the demonstration.

"I will discuss with my family what to do next. I will definitely go to Singhu, sit with farmers. I have not done anything illegal in the past and will not do anything illegal in the future and will always stand for the people," she said.

She also spoke about Shiv Kumar, another Dalit activist who was arrested with her. "Shiv Kumar's condition is very bad. He wasn't even there on the 12th (January). Yet he was arrested and thrashed brutally. He has not been shifted to a hospital despite orders," Ms Kaur said.
Feb 26, 2021 21:15 (IST)
Nodeep Kaur, Dalit Labour Activist Arrested For Delhi Border Protest, Gets Bail

Dalit labour activist Nodeep Kaur, who was arrested on January 12 from a labourers' protest at Kundli border point, was today granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in an attempt to murder case. She has been lodged in a Karnal jail in Haryana. Ms Kaur had accused the police of sexual assault under custody, but the allegation was denied by authorities.

The court will consider separately her allegation of illegal confinement by the police, her advocate Harinder Deep Singh Bains told media persons today following the court order. It will also look at her medical records at a different date, he said.  

Feb 26, 2021 20:38 (IST)
Bharat Biotech Signs Pact To Supply 20 Million Doses Of Covaxin To Brazil
Bharat Biotech will supply 20 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin to Brazil during the second and third quarters of current year, the city-based vaccine maker said on Friday.

It has signed an agreement with the Brazilian government for the supply of the indigenously developed vaccine, a press release from the company said.

"The company is delighted to partner with Brazil in its battle against Covid-19 and aid its immunisation programme against the virus. It has signed an agreement for delivery of Covaxin during Q2 and Q3 2021," it said.

Feb 26, 2021 19:36 (IST)
Pfizer Covid Vaccine Reduces Transmission After One Dose: UK Study
A single dose of Pfizer and BioNtech's COVID-19 vaccine cuts the number of asymptomatic infections and could significantly reduce the risk of transmission of the virus, results of a UK study found on Friday.

Researchers analysed results from thousands of COVID-19 tests carried out each week as part of hospital screenings of healthcare staff in Cambridge, eastern England.

"Our findings show a dramatic reduction in the rate of positive screening tests among asymptomatic healthcare workers after a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine," said Nick Jones, an infectious diseases specialist at Cambridge University Hospital, who co-led the study.

After separating the test results from unvaccinated and vaccinated staff, Jones' team found that 0.80% tests from unvaccinated healthcare workers were positive.
Feb 26, 2021 19:35 (IST)
No Vaccinations This Weekend As Software Is Upgraded

The Central government said on Friday it will let people choose their coronavirus vaccination centres when the campaign expands next week, effectively letting beneficiaries pick either a home-grown shot or the AstraZeneca one, unlike now.

The country will halt vaccinations this weekend to upgrade software used to coordinate its campaign, as it prepares to widen coverage beyond the 11.5 million health and front-line workers immunised since January 16. But the inoculation campaign has progressed slower than expected due to a reluctance of health and front-line workers to take the home-grown COVAXIN shot that was approved without late-stage efficacy data.

Only 11% of vaccinated people have opted for the product developed by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research. With the world's highest tally of infections after the United States, the country wants to vaccinate 300 million of its 1.35 billion people by August.
Feb 26, 2021 17:36 (IST)
Bengal Elections In 8 Phases, Counting In 5 States On May 2
Elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Puducherry will be held from March 27 and the results will be announced on May 2, the Election Commission said today.
Bengal will vote in eight phases from March 27.

Assam will also start voting from March 27, in three phases.

Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala will have one round of polling on April 6.

More than 18 crore are eligible to vote in these elections, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said.

This is the first major set of elections to be held in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic after the Bihar election.
Feb 26, 2021 16:56 (IST)
Pointers from the Election Commission presser:
- 2021 ushered in COVID. Amid challenges of COVID we shall find immense hope in postive stories. This period will be remembered ordinary people doing extraordinary things. We pay tribute to COVID warriors doctors staff and those on poll duty.

- Last year entire word confronted with COVID. Counties across the world tried to balance the democratic rights and some took courageous decision to go with polls.

- ECI started trial with poll for 18 RS seats during COVID. This was in June.

- 7.3 crore voters in Bihar and it was watershed for ECI. It was litmus test. Bihar electorate imposed faith on us. CEO of Bihar and DEC put in day in and out work. 57.34% polls in Bihar exceeded previous polls. Women voters 59.79% turned up in large numbers.

- Discussed with home ministry for security forces and railways for coaches for transport.

I must compliment voters despite several odds.

824 seats to go for polls. 18.68 crore voters, 2.7 lakh polling stations in these states.
Feb 26, 2021 16:00 (IST)
Nodeep Kaur, Dalit Labour Activist Arrested For Delhi Border Protest, Gets Bail
Dalit labour activist Nodeep Kaur, who was arrested on January 12 from a labourers' protest at Kundli border point, was today granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in an attempt to murder case. She has been lodged in a Karnal jail in Haryana. Ms Kaur had accused the police of sexual assault under custody, but the allegation was denied by authorities.

The court will consider separately her allegation of illegal confinement by the police, her advocate Harinder Deep Singh Bains told media persons today following the court order. It will also look at her medical records at a different date, he said.  

"The court has said that there was nothing on record with regards to section 360. Therefore the High Court has ordered bail for Ms Kaur," Mr Bains said. "It is with a restraint that no law and order situation be created. That is the only restriction."
Feb 26, 2021 15:18 (IST)
South Korea to extend current social distancing measures for 2 weeks
South Korea will extend its current social distancing measures for another two weeks over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said on Friday.

"The government will decide to extend the current distancing levels for another two weeks starting next week during today''s meeting," the prime minister said, as quoted by Yonhap news agency.

On February 15, the South Korean government lowered social distancing across the country by one level, while maintaining a ban on gatherings of five or more people. In the metropolitan area, level 2 of social distancing is currently in place, while level 1.5 is in place in the rest of the country. 

The measures were supposed to end on February 28, however, the authorities decided to extend them. The government previously said it could either increase, prolong or weaken the level of social distancing after February 28.
Feb 26, 2021 15:01 (IST)
Local self-government symbol of democracy, development: Om Birla

Local self-government is a symbol of both democracy and development Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Friday stated that it provides a framework for decentralisation of democracy.

The Lok Sabha Speaker's comments came at the inauguration of outreach and familiarisation programme for local bodies of North-Eastern States in Shillong. 

"Local Self Government is a symbol of both democracy and development. It provides a framework for the decentralisation of democracy. It strengthens the democracy at the grass-root level through which citizens get an opportunity to become a stakeholder in the local self-government of their area," the Speaker said.
Feb 26, 2021 14:37 (IST)
Arvind Kejriwal's Message To BJP In Surat: Our 27 To Their 93, But...

Arvind Kejriwal arrived in Gujarat's Surat today for a thanksgiving roadshow after his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) scored seats in civic body polls in its debut, denting the Congress. Read Here
Feb 26, 2021 14:16 (IST)
Russia records 11,086 COVID-19 cases in past 24 hours

Russia's single-day increase in coronavirus cases fell to the lowest level since October 5 with 11,086 new cases confirmed (down from 11,198 the day before), the coronavirus response center said on Friday.

On October 5, Russia confirmed 10,888 coronavirus cases.

"Over the past day, 11,086 coronavirus cases were confirmed across 85 regions, including 1,323 cases (11.9 per cent) that were detected actively, with people showing no clinical symptoms," the center said, adding that the cumulative case count has now reached 4,223,186, with the rate of increase at 0.26 per cent.

Moscow confirmed 1,336 new coronavirus cases over the given period, down from 1,406 the day before. The Russian capital was followed by St. Petersburg with 947 new cases, up from 911 the day before, and the Moscow Region with 502 new cases, up from 495 on Thursday.

Feb 26, 2021 13:59 (IST)
Maharashtra social worker Prakash Amte tests COVID-19 positive

Noted social worker and Ramon Magsaysay award recipient Prakash Amte has tested positive for coronavirus and is undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Maharashtra's Nagpur city.

Mr Amte (73) had been experiencing symptoms of coronavirus for the last seven days, but his test in Gadchiroli had come out negative for the infection, the Padma Shri recipient's son Aniket told PTI.

Mr Amte suffered from fever and was taken to Chandrapur, before being admitted to a private hospital in Nagpur after he tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday evening, he said.

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh wished Amte a speedy recovery.

Feb 26, 2021 13:13 (IST)
COVID-19 vaccination coverage in India crosses 1.34 crores

The nationwide COVID-19 vaccination to healthcare workers and frontline workers crossed 1.34 crores coverage on Friday, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

As per the provisional report issued by the Ministry, till Day-42 of the vaccination drive, the 1.34 crore vaccination doses were registered through 2,78,915 sessions. This includes the first dose for 66.21 lakh healthcare workers, second dose for 20.32 lakh healthcare workers and the first dose for 48.18 lakh frontline workers.

The second dose of COVID-19 vaccination started on February 13, for those beneficiaries who have completed 28 days after receipt of the first dose and vaccination of the frontline workers started on February 2.

Nine states and Union Territories including Arunachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Telangana, Ladakh, Chandigarh, Nagaland, Punjab, and Puducherry have vaccinated less than 60 per cent of the registered healthcare workers.
Feb 26, 2021 12:57 (IST)
COVID-19: Less than 1000 active cases in 21 states, Union Territories

Twenty states and UTs have not reported any COVID-19 deaths in a span of 24 hours, while 21 states and UTs have less than 1,000 active cases, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday.

India's COVID-19 active caseload was recorded at 1,55,986 comprising 1.41 per cent of the total infections. This is largely attributable to the upsurge in daily new cases in some states and UTs, the ministry said. 
"However, 21 states and UTs have less than 1,000 active cases," it underlined.
Feb 26, 2021 12:33 (IST)
New COVID-19 guidelines affect banquet hall businesses in Nagpur

Amid a surge of COVID-19 cases across Maharashtra, businesses of banquet halls have been impacted by the introduction of new coronavirus guidelines in Nagpur.

"Our business has been badly impacted by the new guidelines. We had to cancel all bookings and bear the loss. We are not taking bookings as we do not know how long the government guidelines for coronavirus will last," Prashant Choudhry, a banquet hall owner told ANI on Thursday.

"As an owner, we can survive a bit longer but what about those who earn their livelihood by these events. However, violation of the rules has occurred in some banquet halls due to which, all of us are suffering," said another hotel owner.

On the other hand, people who booked halls and lawns for their functions are disappointed with the guidelines. "Cards have been printed and distributed to all the guests. Our relatives have applied for leaves to attend the wedding ceremony. Now we are worried that how their stay will be managed," said a patron.

Feb 26, 2021 12:12 (IST)
Gujarat municipal polls: BJP secures another seat in Kuber Nagar, tally in Ahmedabad reaches 160

In the recently concluded Gujarat municipal corporation elections, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured another seat in Kuber Nagar, Ahmedabad, taking BJP's tally of seats in the area to 160.

BJP's Gitaba Chavda won the Kuber Nagar seat, defeating Congress' Jagdish Mohanani.

An error in the counting of votes of the ninth round was reported earlier, which was referred to the State Election Commission (SEC) by the BJP.

The SEC conducted a scrutiny and declared the BJP candidate as the winner. 

With Mr Mohanani's defeat, the Congress panel in Kuber Nagar has collapsed.

Feb 26, 2021 11:54 (IST)
Gulmarg will be an international destination for Winter Sports: Kiren Rijiju

Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju on Friday said that Gulmarg will be an international destination for Winter Games in the future.

Ahead of the inaugural address by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the second Khelo India National Winter Games at around 11:50 AM, via video conferencing, Sports Minister Rijiju said the players have prepared well for the upcoming Winter Games and the showpiece event will be organised with great fervour.

"Today is the inauguration of Khelo India Winter Games 2021. We are ready to celebrate the Khelo India Winter Games. Sports ministry in collaboration with Jammu and Kashmir sports council is going organise Winter Games with great fervour," said Rijiju in a video posted on Twitter.
Feb 26, 2021 11:13 (IST)
Election Commission To Announce Poll Dates For Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam And Puducherry Today
Feb 26, 2021 11:06 (IST)
Plans to develop Chota Kailash in Uttarakhand as major pilgrimage site

With no clarity on whether the Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra will be held this year, the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam proposes to develop Chota Kailash, the original abode of Lord Shiva on the Indian side of the border with China, as a major pilgrimage site.

"Chota Kailash, also called Adi Kailash is considered the original abode of Lord Shiva and can be the best pilgrimage site to visit for Shiva devotees from across the country," KMVN Chairperson Kedar Joshi said.

Connectivity to Chota Kailash has also improved with the BRO connecting Vyas valley with a motor road in June last year making it much more convenient for pilgrims to reach the site, he said.

KMVN is the nodal agency for the annual Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra which was not held last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and is not likely to be held this year as well with the preparatory meetings not held so far.
Feb 26, 2021 10:45 (IST)
Latur: Coaching centres asked to get students' COVID-19 test done

The district administration in Maharashtra's Latur has ordered private coaching centres and training institutes to get coronavirus testing of all its students done in five days, an official said.

Latur district collector Prithviraj BP gave an order to this effect on Thursday, he said.

The collector urged such educational institutes in the district to follow the guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus. He asked them to get the coronavirus testing of every student done in the next five days, the official said. The institutes have been asked to coordinate with the medical teams for the testing (RT-PCR or rapid antigen test), he said.
Feb 26, 2021 09:57 (IST)
COVID-19: Weekly markets, mass weddings banned in Maharashtra's Palghar

The authorities in Maharashtra's Palghar have banned weekly markets and mass marriages across the district in view of the prevailing coronavirus situation in the state, an official said on Friday.

An order to this effect was issued by district collector Manik Gursal on Thursday, he said.

"Weekly markets are a regular feature in Palghar and other rural parts of Maharashtra. However, in view of the spike in COVID-19 cases in the state, the collector ordered a ban on the weekly markets in the district from February 25 till further orders," the official said.

The collector also banned mass weddings in the district to avoid large gatherings, he added.

"The administration has started cracking down on marriage halls to check compliance of COVID-19 guidelines and action is being taken against the violators," the official said.
Feb 26, 2021 09:15 (IST)
Thane district's COVID-19 count rises by 734

With the addition of 73 coronavirus cases, the infection count in Thane district of Maharashtra mounted to 2,63,014, an official said on Friday. These new cases were reported on Thursday, he said. As the virus claimed the life of five persons, the deaths in the district rose to 6,256.

The COVID-19 mortality rate of the district now stood at 2.38 per cent, he added. So far, 2,51,455 patients have recuperated from the infection, which took the recovery rate to 95.61 per cent. There are 5,303 active cases in the district at present, the official said. In neighboring Palghar district, the coronavirus case count has gone up to 45,838, while the death toll has reached 1,204, another official said.
Feb 26, 2021 09:10 (IST)
Former Congress leader Ashok Tanwar launches new party "Apna Bharat Morcha"

Former Haryana Congress leader Ashok Tanwar launched a new political party ''Apna Bharat Morcha'' in the national capital on Thursday.

Former Tripura Congress leader Kirit Pradyut Deb Barman was among the scores of leaders who attended the launched event.

Mr Tanwar said that people who left Congress made a tough decision but they did so because they wanted to work for the nation. "Apna Bharat Morcha will work with a three-pillared approach of dialogue, debate, and discussion," he said.

Feb 26, 2021 08:32 (IST)
G20 finance chiefs to talk Covid recovery, aid to poor countries

G20 finance ministers and central bankers will gather for a video conference led by Italy Friday, hoping to align plans for relaunching the global economy after the coronavirus pandemic and to limit harm to the worst-off nations shut out of the race for vaccines.

Beginning at 12:30 pm local time (1130 GMT), the meeting is the first in post for US President Joe Biden's new Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, expected to be far less confrontational than Donald Trump's representatives at past gatherings.

"With the new American administration, it will certainly be easier to reach a deal" for increased aid to poorer nations, international economy professor Lucia Tajoli of Milan's Polytechnic business school said.
Feb 26, 2021 07:59 (IST)
President Kovind to visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands today

The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind will visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands on Friday. He is expected to stay there for a period of 4 days.

"The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, will visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands from February 26 to March 1, 2021," read the press release by the President''s Secretariat.
Feb 26, 2021 07:15 (IST)
CoWIN Chief's All-You-Need-To-Know On New Vaccine Drive Starting Monday
Former telecom regulator Ram Sewak Sharma, chairman of the government's Empowered Group on Technology and Data Management to combat COVID-19 and member of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration spoke to NDTV about the country's vaccination programme that expands on Monday.

The second phase of the coronavirus vaccination drive will focus on people over 60 and those over 45 with illnesses. Mr Sharma, who heads the operations under the Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network or CoWIN platform, explained the registration process, the ways to get the vaccine and more.
Feb 26, 2021 07:15 (IST)
Worldwide Coronavirus Deaths Top 2.5 Million
Covid-19 has killed more than 2.5 million people worldwide since the pandemic began in December 2019, according to an AFP count based on official figures at 1730 GMT Thursday.
In total, 2,500,172 deaths and 112,618,488 cases have been reported.

With 842,894 deaths, Europe is the hardest-hit region, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (667,972 deaths) and the US and Canada (528,039).

Almost half of the fatalities have occurred in just five countries: the US (506,232), Brazil (249,957), Mexico (182,815), India (156,705) and Britain (122,070).