WHO classifies India's COVID-19 mutation as 'variant of concern', Delhi flags vaccine shortage; 3.6 lakh cases today

Flagging the higher infectiousness of the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19, which was first found in India last October, the WHO said it might possibly have some increased resistance to vaccine protections

FP Staff May 10, 2021 23:20:49 IST
WHO classifies India's COVID-19 mutation as 'variant of concern', Delhi flags vaccine shortage; 3.6 lakh cases today

Representational image. PTI

As India faces an exponential second wave of COVID-19 and is reporting the highest number of single-day new cases than any other country since the pandemic began, the World Health Organisation said the variant of coronavirus in the country appears to be more contagious and classified it as being "of concern".

On Monday, 3,66,161 new cases were recorded, which is a break from the four-day pattern of over four lakh daily cases. The total caseload rose to 2,26,62,575, while the toll jumped to 2,46,116, with 3,754 new deaths in the last 24 hours.

Flagging the higher infectiousness of the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19, which was first found in India last October, the WHO said it might possibly have some increased resistance to vaccine protections.

"There is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility of the B.1.617," Maria Van Kerkove, the WHO's lead on COVID-19, told reporters, also pointing to early studies "suggesting that there is some reduced neutralisation".

"As such we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level," she said, adding that more details would be provided in the WHO's weekly epidemiological update on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, state governments continued to flag oxygen and vaccine shortages.

In Delhi, one of the worst-affected cities by the pandemic and the shortage of medical resources, the high court slammed the Centre and the AAP government over their failure to prevent the black marketing of COVID-19 drugs and oxygen concentrators.

"Do something without waiting for orders from the court," a bench of Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli told the advocates appearing for the governments.

On the vaccine front in the National Capital, the government said that its vaccination centres providing Covaxin jabs to people between the ages of 18 and 45 will have to be shut on Tuesday because the stocks will run out/

Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said the city has only one day's Covaxin stock left and its Covishield doses will last for just three to four days.

"Covaxin doses can last up to one day only, while Covishield doses can last up to three to four days," Jain told reporters after reviewing preparations at Guru Teg Bahadur COVID Care Centre at Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib in central Delhi.

Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia claimed that the NDA government at the Centre has approved only 3.5 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccine for the National Capital in May even though the AAP dispensation had placed orders for 1.34 crore doses with manufacturers.

The BJP is practising politics of "lies and deception" and falsely accusing the Delhi government of ordering 5.5 lakh vaccine doses only, he added.

As hospitals in the country continue to combat an oxygen crisis, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that the state cannot continue supplying oxygen to others because its own reserve stock is getting used up.

According to a report by Mathrubhumi English, the letter stated that only 86 tonnes out of the 450 tonnes of oxygen in reserve stock is remaining at present The chief minister also requested permission to use all 219 tonnes of oxygen produced in the state for its needs.

Vijayan was quoted by NDTV as saying that he will allow 40 metric tonnes of oxygen to Tamil Nadu till 10 May, going by the 6 May decision of the Central Committee of Oxygen Allocation, but added that it will be practically impossible to allow oxygen to be taken out of the state after that.

Curfew extended in Chandigarh by one week

The Chandigarh administration extended night and weekend curfew restrictions by one more week beginning 11 May, in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases in the city. Non-essential shops will continue to remain shut, according to an official order.

The night curfew in the city is in place from 6 pm till 5 am on weekdays. The weekend curfew starts at 5 am on Saturday and continues till 5 am on Monday.

"Keeping in view the increasing number of COVID cases and the continued infection, it was decided to extend the present coronavirus curfew by another one week," as per decision taken in a COVID-19 review meeting.

Gatherings for occasions like marriage ceremonies will be restricted to 20 instead of 50 earlier. However, written permission from the Deputy Commissioner will be required for such events. For funerals/cremations, the number of persons has been restricted to 10 instead of 20 permitted earlier.

The Ladakh administration also extended the curfew imposed in Leh till 17 May. It was earlier scheduled to end on Monday.

Leh District disaster management authority (DDMA) chairman Shrikant Suse said stringent action will be taken against the violators.

The shops selling essential items like groceries, meat, chicken, dairy products, vegetables and bakeries, will be allowed to open everyday from 8 am to 1 pm. He added that essential supplies would be made available for people living in far-off places, which don't have such stores.

Complete lockdown begins in Karnataka

Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa appealed to people to abide by the strict lockdown in Karnataka for the next fortnight to contain the spread of coronavirus, which is spreading in the state at an alarming rate.

Policemen wielding lathis were seen at places in an effort to implement the stringent restrictions.

The roads were barricaded and motorists were warned and allegedly got the stick for venturing out without valid reasons.

Those who went out to purchase medicines and essential goods were also allegedly roughed up, PTI reported.

At Uttarahalli circle in Bengaluru, people who had gone to collect water from the government established Water purifier unit were also allegedly beaten.

"The policemen saw me with a can of water, yet they beat me up. They were saying why I used the two-wheeler but what should I do if there is no water dispensing unit near my house, which is two kilometres away," a man was quoted as saying by PTI.

Former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy came down heavily on the government for the police excesses saying that the government thought stopping people's movement was the only way to prevent the spread of the virus.

Congress demands special Parliament session over COVID-19

Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has written to President Ram Nath Kovind for convening an urgent session of Parliament to discuss the COVID situation in the country.

In his letter to the president, Chowdhury said it is important to convene a Parliament session in order to find a way to ease the lives of people suffering from novel coronavirus.

He described the pandemic situation in the country as grave and said there is a need to find a national solution to handle the issue.

"In this critical situation I would urge your kind conscience to convene a special (COVID crisis) session of Parliament because India consists of a number of constituencies and each member of Parliament representing his/her constituency from respective state has some say about the condition of people therein and in order to find a way to ease the lives of suffering people," he said in his letter.

Jharkhand to start free vaccination for 18-44 age group from 14 May

The Jharkhand government will begin the vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group from 14 May, Chief Minister Hemant Soren announced on Monday. Facing vaccine shortage, the state could not launch the drive on 1 May.

"Vaccines will be administered to the 18-plus age group from May 14. This will be free of cost for the people as the state government will bear the charges," Soren said.

The chief minister said it will be administered to the eligible age group as per the quantity received. The state has placed an order for 50 lakh doses.

Maharashtra's daily cases drop below 40,000 for first time after 31 March

The number of daily coronavirus cases in Maharashtra, which has been reeling under the resurgent pandemic, dropped below 40,000 to 37,236 on Monday for the first time after 31 March.

Maharashtra's overall caseload now stands at 51,38,973, while 549 fatalities pushed the toll 76,398, the state health department said.

Maharashtra had reported 39,544 cases on 31 March.

Mumbai saw 1,782 new cases, taking the tally to 6,77,412 while the overall fatality count stood at 13,855, the department said.

COVID-19 caseload details

After recording over four lakh fresh cases for four consecutive days, India witnessed a single-day rise of 3,66,161 COVID-19 cases on Monday, which pushed its tally to 2,26,62,575, according to the health ministry.

The toll due to the viral disease climbed to 2,46,116, with 3,754 more people succumbing to it, the ministry's data updated at 8 am showed.

The number of active cases of the coronavirus infection in the country has gone up to 37,45,237, accounting for 16.53 percent of its total caseload, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 82.39 percent.

The number of people who have recuperated from the disease has climbed to 1,86,71,222, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.09 percent, according to the data.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 30,37,50,077 samples have so far been tested for the viral disease across the country, including 14,74,606 on Sunday.

The 3,754 new fatalities include 572 from Maharashtra, 490 from Karnataka, 294 from Uttar Pradesh, 273 from Delhi, 236 from Tamil Nadu, 191 from Punjab, 189 from Chhattisgarh, 180 from Uttarakhand, 159 from Rajasthan, 151 from Haryana, 124 from West Bengal and 121 from Gujarat.

Of the total 2,46,116 deaths caused by the viral disease, 75,849 were reported from Maharashtra, 19,344 from Delhi, 18,776 from Karnataka, 15,648 from Tamil Nadu, 15,464 from Uttar Pradesh, 12,327 from West Bengal, 10,570 from Chhattisgarh and 10,506 from Punjab.

With inputs from PTI

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