The Centre has written to States — Kerala, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and J&K — which are witnessing a daily surge in the number of daily COVID-19 cases directing an increase in proportion of RT-PCR tests while ensuring that those testing negative with Rapid Antigen be retested by RT-PCR. Centre has also asked states to look into strict, comprehensive surveillance and stringent containment to curb the spread of the virus.
In its release issued on February 21 the Health Ministry said that more than 74% of the active COVID-19 cases of the country are in Kerala and Maharashtra and that a spike in cases has been seen in some States. “India has been witnessing a rise in the active caseload over the past few days and its total active caseload is pegged at 1,45,634 currently,’’ said the Ministry.
Here are the latest updates:
Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani tests negative for coronavirus
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani tested negative for coronavirus on February 21, the CM’s office said.
Earlier, Mr. Rupani, 64, tested positive for the viral infection on February 15, a day after he fainted on a stage during campaigning for civic polls in Vadodara. 151 — PTI
Centre writes to states reporting spike in daily COVID-19 cases
Amid a spike in daily new cases of COVID-19 in some states including Maharashtra and Kerala, the Centre has advised them to increase the proportion of RT-PCR tests and regularly monitor mutant strains besides refocusing on strict surveillance and stringent containment in selected districts.
In a letter to the states, the government has also stressed that all negative rapid antigen test results should be mandatorily followed by RT-PCR test. India has been witnessing a rise in the COVID-19 active caseload over the past few days which is pegged at 1,45,634 as on date and now consists of 1.32 per cent of India’s total infections.
“More than 74 per cent of the active cases of the country are in Kerala and Maharashtra. Of late it is seen that there has been a spike in the daily cases in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh also. Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir too are witnessing a surge in daily new cases,” the ministry said. – PTI
New COVID-19 restrictions in Pune; schools, colleges to remain shut till Feb. 28
In view of surging cases of COVID-19 across Pune district, all schools, colleges and private coaching classes will remain shut till February 28. Hotels will close at 11 p.m. instead of at 1 a.m. and no non-essential activities will be permitted on roads between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The decisions were taken following a review meeting between Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Pune administration and divisional authorities.
Announcing the new measures, Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao said that virus ‘hotspots’ had been identified in the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporations and that micro-containment zones would accordingly be formed to rein in the spread of the contagion.
India records 14,264 new cases, 90 fresh fatalities
Daily COVID-19 cases in India registered an increase for the fourth consecutive day with the country recording 14,264 new cases, taking the total tally to 1,09,91,651, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on February 21.
The death toll increased to 1,56,302 with 90 daily new fatalities, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.
The country had registered 18,855 infections in a day on January 29. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,06,89,715 which translates to a national COVID-19 recovery rate of 97.25 % and the case fatality rate stands at 1.42 %. The COVID-19 active caseload remained below 1.5 lakh.
There are 1,45,634 active cases of coronavirus infections in the country which comprises 1.32% of the total caseload, the data stated.
Cricketer tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of PSL start
A cricketer competing in the Pakistan Super League tested positive for COVID-19 hours before the start of country’s premier domestic Twenty20 competition on Saturday.
The Pakistan Cricket Board did not identity the player but said he “will now remain in quarantine for 10 days” and will need two negative tests to reintegrate with his team.
Also, a senior player and a team official competing in the PSL have been placed in a three-day quarantine for breaching their bio-secure bubble on Friday.
The PCB said both came into contact with a person outside the bubble, and now they require two negative tests to re-enter. They were not identified.
“The PCB is disappointed that two members of one of the sides showed carelessness,” the cricket board said in a statement.
Sufficient doses of COVID-19 vaccine available in Tamil Nadu: Minister
While other States in the country are experiencing a slight surge in COVID-19 cases, there is no fear of a second wave in Tamil Nadu, Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar said on Saturday. “We continue to process at least 50,000 RT-PCR samples in a day, and our doctors have become experts in treating COVID-19 patients, even those with co-morbidities,” he said.
The Health Minister was addressing presspersons after taking the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Tiruchi Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital. “We are in a unique position as cases are on a decline and the vaccination drive is picking up. Through vaccination, we can aim to report far lesser cases of COVID-19 soon,” he said. A total of 3,59,000 doses have been administered to frontline workers in the State so far, he said, adding that there was adequate stock of both Covishield and Covaxin. “We have 14,85,000 vials of Covishield vaccines and 1,89,000 vials of Covaxin,” he said.
Record number of HCWs skip second jab on Saturday
Around 71.7% of healthcare workers (HCWs) targeted for the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday gave it a miss in Telangana. While the Health department planned to administer the second dose to 3,892 HCWs on Saturday, only 1,108 or 28.3% took it.
The COVID-19 vaccine is given in two doses with a gap of 28 days.
When the daily percentage of HCWs who missed the second dose from February 13 to 20 is considered, it was the highest on Saturday at 71.7%.
Senior officials from the Health department earlier listed three reasons for not taking the second dose — illness on the day they were scheduled to take the second dose; personal engagement; and developed Adverse Event Following Immunisation (AEFI) such as fever, giddiness earlier and were hesitant to take the second dose.
All HC judges to hold physical court hearings from March 15
The Delhi High Court on Saturday issued an office order stating all its judges would hold physical hearing of cases from March 15.
The existing system under which only 11 Benches, including two Division Benches of two judges each and nine single-judge Benches, hear matters via physical mode will continue till March 12, the court said.
“The full court is pleased to order that the existing system of hearing the matters shall continue up to March 12, 2021,” the office order issued by Registrar General Manoj Jain stated.
“It has further been ordered that all Benches of this court shall hold physical courts on a daily basis with effect from March 15, 2021, and shall continue to take up the matters as per the existing arrangement of listing,” it also stated.
Periodic RT-PCR tests mandatory for food handlers in Karnataka
Following recommendations from the COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and other experts, the Health Department has made it mandatory to conduct RT-PCR testing on all catering staff every fortnight.
In a circular issued on Saturday, Health Commissioner K.V. Trilok Chandra said only those with a negative RT-PCR certificate should be permitted to provide catering services, and only asymptomatic staff and patrons should be allowed.
“Given the current COVID-19 situation and with the opening up of all activities in Karnataka, there is an imminent danger of a second wave of COVID-19. It is important that the food handlers who are working in catering services for functions such as weddings, birthdays, and social, religious, and political gatherings, apart from in hotels, restaurants, resorts, and dhabas, take suitable measures to restrict any further transmission of the virus while providing their services,” stated the circular.
Vivek Oberoi fined after sharing video of bike ride with wife
A First Information Report was registered in Mumbai against Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi on Friday for not using a mask after he shared a video of a ride on a motorbike with his wife on Valentine’s Day.
With coronavirus cases on the rise in Maharashtra, the city administration on Thursday warned of prosecuting those found violating the mandatory mask rule.
The case was registered against the actor at Juhu Police Station, an official said. The video shared by the actor on social media showed him riding a brand-new motorbike without wearing either helmet or face mask.
The FIR was registered against him under IPC sections 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) along with provisions of the Maharashtra COVID-19 Precautionary Measures 2020 and the Motor Vehicles Act, the official said.
Vaccine acceptance low among well-informed people in Karnataka
Vaccine hesitancy in Karnataka is high among those who are more informed. State health officials said they have noticed that the percentage of field level health workers (such as ANMs, ASHAs, anganwadi workers and anganwadi helpers at village level) who have taken the vaccine is the highest in the State at 71%.
In comparison, only 54% of medical officers (doctors) and 56% of paramedical staff have been vaccinated so far. Of the 29,478 registered field level workers, 20,838 have taken the jab. Among the 17,172 village level workers, the figure is 12,041, according to data from COWIN portal dashboard.
A mere 8% of the eligible medical officers have taken the second dose. In contrast, 22% field level workers and 39% village level workers have been completely vaccinated (have taken the second dose).
“The more informed healthcare workers are, the less convinced they are about COVID-19 vaccines. We have noticed that hesitancy is high among specialists and super specialists whereas ASHA and anganwadi workers are not reluctant to take the shot. We are trying to address this issue,” said Arundathi Chandrashekar, State Mission Director, National Health Mission.
Karnataka mandates 14-day home quarantine for international returnees
In the wake of rising COVID-19 cases in other countries, the Karnataka government has further intensified its earlier restrictions and made 14-day home quarantine mandatory for all international returnees.
While travellers will not be allowed to board without a negative RT-PCR certificate at the point of origin, they will be tested again on arrival at the airport in Bengaluru.
While returnees from U.K., Brazil and South Africa and others who are transiting via Bengaluru cannot leave the airport until their RT-PCR test is negative, travellers from all other countries can give their samples for RT-PCR test and exit the airport. The Health Department issued two separate circulars in this regard on Saturday.