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India logs 2.95 lakh fresh Covid cases, 2,023 deaths in 24 hours

India recorded 2,95,041 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, setting yet another one-day grim one-day record, taking the overall caseload to 1,53,21,089, according to data from the Union Health Ministry.

The country’s active COVID-19 cases stands at 20,31,977. This is the seventh straight day that the country has recorded over 2 lakh cases.

With 2,023 deaths in the last 24 hours, the death toll is at 1,82,553, the highest single-day record. In the last 24 hours, 1,67,457 patients recovered, taking the number of recoveries to 1,32,76,039.

The Central government on Monday said that all citizens above 18 years of age will be eligible to get vaccinated from 1 May. Under the third phase of the vaccination drive commencing next month, the vaccine manufacturers would supply 50 per cent of doses to the centre and the rest t the state and open market at a pre-declared price the government said.

Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh remain the worst affected states by the pandemic.

Maharashtra, which remains the worst affected state by the pandemic, recorded 58,924 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours taking the state’s total to 38,98,262 cases and 351 deaths  pushed the death count to 60,824.

Delhi which has announced a six-day lockdown from 10 pm on April 19 night till 5 am on April 26 due to the surge in Covid cases recorded 23,686 new Covid-19 cases taking the state’s total to 8,77,146 cases. In the last 24 hours,240 deaths which is the highest-ever deaths reported in a single day in Delhi.

Kerala will also impose a night curfew for two weeks from Tuesday onwards. The state recorded 13,644 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours.

According to government data, as many as 13,01,19,310 people have been vaccinated.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 27,10,53,392 samples were tested for COVID-19 up to April 20, 2021. Of these, 16,39,357 samples were tested yesterday.

Ban industrial use of oxygen now to ease scarcity: HC

The court asked the Centre why it was waiting till 22 April to ban industrial use of oxygen.

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said that economic interests can not override human lives and suggested some reduction in steel and petroleum production to divert oxygen to Covid-19 patients.

A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said if the lockdown continues then everything would come to a halt and therefore, what would be the need for steel, petrol and diesel during such a situation.

The court asked the Centre why it was waiting till 22 April to ban industrial use of oxygen. “Shortage is now. You have to do it (ban) now. Look into taking some oxygen from steel and petroleum industries. They have big pockets and big lobbies, but tell them if they have to cut production, then they can cut production. Lives have to be saved,” the bench said.

The court cited the example of a central government counsel whose father was admitted in hospital and was on oxygen support, but due its scarcity, oxygen was being provided at a reduced pressure to him to conserve it.

“Can you ask him to hold on till 22 April,” the court asked. It said if nothing was done, then “we are heading for a bigger disaster”. “We might end up losing nearly a crore of people. Are we willing to accept that,” the bench said.

The observations by the bench came after perusing the Centre’s affidavit which said there was presently no gap in oxygen supply to Delhi and that industrial use of oxygen was banned with effect from 22 April.

Leaders’ consensus to maintain peace at borders can’t be ‘swept under carpet’, India tells China

Misri said both India and China agree that they should stick to the consensus between the top leaders of the two countries.

Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri has said that the tendency to sweep the situation at the Sino-Indian border under the carpet and characterise it as just a minor issue and a matter of perspective was inadvisable.

Such a tendency could only take the two countries further away from a sustained solution to present difficulties and deeper into an unfulfilling stalemate. It would tantamount to running away from the problem and in a direction opposite to that where the promise of a closer development partnership lay, Misra said at an online event between the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) which was also addressed by Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong, among others.

“Maintenance of peace and tranquility in border areas is an essential basis for the development of the bilateral relationship. There is a need for respecting each others’ concerns and sensitivities,” he said.

Misri said both India and China agree that they should stick to the consensus between the top leaders of the two countries. However, he pointed out that equally significant consensus has been reached between the two leaders in the past as well, on the importance of maintaining peace and tranquility, and it was important to stick to that consensus as well.

He said the impact on public opinion in India has been particularly strong due to the violation of peace and tranquility at the LAC. In a multipolar world, no country could set the agenda by itself without prior agreement and consultation, and then expect everyone else to come on board. No single country could expect a discussion to focus only on issues of its own interest while ignoring those raised or reflected by others. And no country should imagine that it has sole control over the narrative about a relationship or its actual course, he said.

“The sooner this is understood, the sooner we can move towards a real and reformed multilateralism,” he added.

ICSE cancels class 10 board exams, class 12 stays ‘deferred’

Last week, the board had postponed both class 10 and 12 exams.

The ICSE class 10 board exams have been cancelled in view of the worsening Covid-19 situation and the option for students to appear later has been withdrawn, board secretary Gerry Arathoon said on Tuesday.

Last week, the board had postponed both class 10 and 12 exams. The Council for The Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) had announced that class 10 students will get an option to either write the exams later or get evaluated on the basis of an alternative criteria.

“Given the present worsening situation of the Covid19 pandemic in the country,
the CICSE has decided to cancel the class 10 examination. The option for students announced earlier, stands withdrawn. The safety and well-being of our students and teaching faculty is of topmost priority and paramount importance,” said Arathoon.

“We are committed to devise a fair and unbiased criterion for declaring class 10 results. The criterion as well as the date of declaration for results will be announced later,” he said.

The CISCE has advised schools to begin the admission process for class 11, if not already started. “In addition, schools should prepare a schedule to begin online classes for the class 11 students at the earliest,” Arathoon said, adding
that the status of class 12 exams remains same.

Last week, the CBSE had cancelled its class 10 board exams and deferred the class 12 board exams.

Lives of 500 patients at risk in GTB hospital as Oxygen stock to get over by 2 AM: Principal

The principal of Delhi government run-hospital has pleaded with Health Minister Satyendar Jain to immediately arrange the liquid medical Oxygen stock for the dedicated Covid facility as it is expected to run out of the Oxygen supply by 2 AM, principal Dr Anil Jain informed.

The lives of 500 patients are at risk at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital which is left with just three hours of Oxygen supply for its sick Covid patients.

The principal of Delhi government run-hospital has pleaded with Health Minister Satyendar Jain to immediately arrange the liquid medical Oxygen stock for the dedicated Covid facility as it is expected to run out of the Oxygen supply by 2 AM, principal Dr Anil Jain informed.

Dr Jain said that the Oxygen supply vendor of the hospital is not fulfilling its demand of the hospital since the local authorities of Ghaziabad is not allowing the vendor to direct its supply to states other than Uttar Pradesh.

Jain has also made a distress call to Satyendar Jain who has requested the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goel to restore the Oxygen supply to the GTB hospital to avert a major crisis there.

“Acute shortage of oxygen at GTB Hospital. Oxygen may not last beyond 4 hrs. More than 500 corona patients on oxygen. Please help Piyush Goel,” he tweeted.

Multiple government hospitals in the city said that their oxygen stock will last only for “seven to twelve hours” and “people will die” if they do not get oxygen.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also reiterated on Tuesday that there was a serious oxygen crisis and again sought help from the central government. “Serious oxygen crisis persists in Delhi. I again urge the centre to urgently provide oxygen to Delhi. Some hospitals are left with just a few hours of oxygen,” he had tweeted.

Kejriwal had said on Sunday also that Delhi is facing an “acute shortage” of oxygen for COVID-19 patients and alleged that the quota of the city has been diverted to other states.

India sets new record of 2,00,739 new COVID-19 cases, 1,038 deaths in last 24 hours

States such as Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan have shown a steep rise in new Covid-19 cases.

India has reported 2,00,739 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, setting another grim one-day record as the overall tally reached 1,40,74,564 so far, the health ministry data stated on Thursday.

With this, India has once again taken its spot as the second-worst hit nation in terms of infections after the US.

As many as 1,038 deaths were reported taking the total Covid related deaths in the country to 1,73,123 so far.

India is now the fourth-worst Covid affected country worldwide after the number of active cases rose to 14,71,877.

A total of 93,528 patients recovered in the last 24 hours, taking the number of recoveries to 1,24,29,564.

The total inoculation count has come up to 10,85,33,085.

States such as Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan have shown a steep rise in new Covid-19 cases.

Hospital authorities directed to fasten admission for severely sick patients: Satyendar Jain

Jain had made a surprise visit to the Delhi government-run hospital. He also asked the hospital to make sure that no patient is rejected.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain instructed the Lok Nayak Hospital management to ensure a faster admission process for the severely sick patients of the Covid-19.

Jain had made a surprise visit to the Delhi government-run hospital. He also asked the hospital to make sure that no patient is rejected.

“The management has been directed to ensure a quick admission process for severely sick patients. The hospital must make sure that there is zero rejection of patients. It must be watched over that sufficient ICU beds should be available for covid patients. Hygiene is supreme and must be maintained at all times. The past three days have seen a rise in the number of patients. The staff must ensure proper care is taken. I also met with the family members of the patients admitted,” Jain added.

The minister also met the family members of the patients and took their feedback.

“Delhi is seeing an unprecedented surge. In view of the same, I visited the patients at LNJP Hospital. LNJP has treated the maximum number of patients in India. The doctors and staff have been working hard and I am very grateful for their dedication. I also met with the patients and their family members, and asked about their well-being and take their feedback,” he said.

Petrol, diesel prices finally drop after 15 days

Across the country as well the petrol and diesel prices fell on Thursday but its retail levels varied depending on the level of local levies in respective states.

Fuel prices on Thursday were finally cut down in the country with oil marketing companies deciding to pass the benefit of softer global oil prices earlier this month to the consumers.

With the price cut, petrol is now being retailed at Rs 90.40 a litre in Delhi, down from the previous day`s level of Rs 90.56 a litre. Similarly, diesel is now priced at Rs 80.73 a litre in the national capital from earlier level of Rs 80.87 a litre.

Fuel prices in the country remained unchanged for 15 consecutive days as oil marketing companies kept petrol and diesel prices static. The last time petrol and diesel prices fell were by 22 paise and 23 paise per litre respectively on March 30 in wake of global softening of oil prices.

With crude remaining below $65 a barrel, for most part of the last fortnight along with softer product prices, the oil companies decided to break their pause and passed on the benefit to the consumers. The OMCs benchmark retail fuel prices to a 15-day rolling average of global refined products` prices and dollar exchange rate.

However, the global crude has again gained and crossed $66 a barrel mark. If this holds for a few days, fuel prices may have to be revised upwards.

Before the long drawn pause, petrol and diesel fell by 22 paisa and 23 paisa per litre respectively last on March 30.

Across the country as well the petrol and diesel prices fell on Thursday but its retail levels varied depending on the level of local levies in respective states.

Premium petrol, however, continues to remain over Rs 100 a litre in Mumbai and several other cities across the country.

(With IANS inputs)

CBSE puts off Class XII, cancels Class X exams

Decision affects over 21.5 lakh students; ISC council reviewing situation

The government today decided to cancel the CBSE’s Class X board examinations and postpone the Class XII exams following an exponential surge in Covid-19 cases in the country. The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi held amidst demands from many quarters, including Opposition political parties, to put off the examinations in view of the surge in Covid-19 cases.

While state boards in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh followed suit to postpone their Class X and XII examinations, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination, which is the other prominent national board for school examinations, said it is reviewing the situation and will take a decision soon in this regard.

“The board exams for Class 12 to be held from May 4 to June 14 are hereby postponed. These exams will be held hereafter. The situation will be reviewed on June 1 by the board and details will be shared subsequently. A notice of at least 15 days will be given before the start of the examinations,” said a press statement released by the MHRD. “The board exams for Class 10 are hereby cancelled. The results of Class 10 board will be prepared on the basis of an objective criterion to be developed by the board. Any candidate who is not satisfied with the marks allocated to him or her on this basis will be given an opportunity to sit in an exam as and when the conditions are conducive to hold the exams,” the press statement added.

The decision affects around 21.5 lakh students who had registered for the- Class X and XII CBSE exams.

The country is seeing a resurgence of Covid-19 positive cases in many states, with a few states having been affected more than others. In this situation, schools have been shut down in 11 states. “Unlike state boards, CBSE has an all-India character, and therefore, it is essential to hold exams simultaneously throughout the country. Looking to the present situation of the pandemic and school closures, and also taking into account the safety and wellbeing of the students, the crucial decisions have been taken,” a senior Ministry official said.

The demands for cancellation of board exams were being raised from various quarters. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Mr Manish Sisodia had on Tuesday asked the Centre to cancel the exams, saying it can contribute to a large scale spread of the coronavirus.

Last week, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi had urged Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal to intervene and direct the CBSE to reconsider its decision to go ahead with the board examinations in May despite the “massive and uncontrolled” rise in Covid- 19 cases. The Shiv Sena had also written to the education ministry, requesting the government to develop a national consensus and reschedule CBSE and other board exams.

Over 2 lakh students had signed an online petition demanding cancellation of board exams and the hashtag “cancelboardexams” has also been trending on Twitter for a week.

Meanwhile, the Rajasthan government also decided to postpone the state education board examinations for classes X and XII. The Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education was also directed to promote the students of Classes VIII, IX and X to the next classes.The Madhya Pradesh Board of Secondary Education also postponed the examinations of Classes X and XII scheduled to start from 30 April and 1 May respectively.

Schools across the country were closed in March last year to contain the spread of Covid-19 ahead of a nationwide lockdown. Several states started reopening the schools partially from October last year, but physical classes are again being suspended in view of the rise in coronavirus cases. Last year, the board exams had to be postponed mid-way in March. They were later cancelled and the results were announced on the basis of an alternative assessment scheme.

With 17,282 new cases, Delhi logs highest-ever Covid spike

104 more die of pathogen; coronavirus cases rising very rapidly, no signs of slowdown, admits Jain

Amid its continuing massive surge in coronavirus cases, Delhi today recorded 17,282 fresh Covid cases ~ its highest single-day count since the onset of the pandemic ~ and 104 virus-related fatalities, according to the Delhi government’s latest health bulletin.

The city’s positivity rate mounted to 15.92 per cent while the number of active cases soared to 50,736, the health bulletin said.

The new cases were detected out of 1,08,534 tests, including 73,915 RT-PCR tests and 34,619 rapid antigen tests, the bulletin stated.

The national capital’s Covid caseload increased to 7,67,438 while its death toll rose to 11,540. Over 7.05 lakh patients have recovered from the virus in the city so far, the bulletin added. The highest single-day spike in Delhi till the “third wave” of the Covid pandemic ~ 8,593 cases ~ was reported on November 11 last year, while on November 18, the city had recorded 131 Covid deaths, the highest single-day fatality count till date. The positivity rate in mid-November had stood above 15 per cent.

Reeling under the “fourth wave” of the pandemic, the national capital yesterday recorded 13,468 Covid cases and 81 deaths, giving it the dubious distinction of being the worst coronavirus-affected city in the county.

Earlier in the day today, Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said Covid cases were rising very rapidly every single day and “there is no slowdown” in its spread in the city. He, however, iterated that lockdown was not a solution to the situation, and advised people to step out of their homes only if needed, avoid gatherings, wear masks and follow Covid safety protocols.

The minister said 70-80 patients were being admitted daily to Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital. About 80 people were admitted to Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital yesterday night, he said. He said the number of beds has been increased in various hospitals, while adding that the Delhi government has again urged the Centre to scale up the number of beds in its hospitals in the national capital. Later, orders were issued on linking of banquet halls and hotels with hospitals to meet further requirement of beds, as and when needed, he said.

In a statement later, Jain said chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was directly monitoring the situation of beds and facilities available for patients at the Delhi government-run hospitals. “Delhi government has ramped up the infrastructure available and is fully equipped to combat the virus. I appeal to you all to only opt for hospital admissions when in dire need,” he said.

From April 4 to April 13, Delhi has recorded 77,775 COVID-19 cases, witnessing a massive rise of 234 per cent. During the same period, 376 people have died due to the disease. Jain said that while Covid Care Centres were operational, people were either preferring to go to hospitals or be home-isolated. Of 5,525 beds at these centres, only 286 were occupied, he added.

The national capital had reported 11,491 coronavirus cases and 72 Covid deaths last Monday. It had recorded 10,772 cases and 48 deaths on Sunday, 7,897 infections and 39 deaths on Saturday, and 8,521 cases and 39 deaths on Friday.

~With inputs from PTI~