COVID-19 surges in UP districts adjoining Delhi as Govt of NCT battles third wave; UGC issues SOPs to reopen varsities

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Ministry said that the cap on the number of domestic flights that Indian airlines are permitted to operate would be increased to 70-75% of their pre-COVID levels as passenger traffic surges

FP Staff November 05, 2020 23:50:51 IST
COVID-19 surges in UP districts adjoining Delhi as Govt of NCT battles third wave; UGC issues SOPs to reopen varsities

Representational image. AFP

The number of active cases of COVID-19 has remained below 6 lakh for seven consecutive days with 27 states and UTs having less than 20,000 active cases, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the UGC announced guidelines for the reopening of universities and colleges closed since March in view of the pandemic, while rising cases in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh districts adjoining the National Capital has raised concerns in the neighbouring state.

In a statement, the ministry said India continues to report a steady trend of declining active cases of COVID-19 which presently stands at 5,27,962.

"The active cases are less than 6 lakh for the last seven consecutive days. Twenty-seven states and UTs have less than 20,000 active cases and 10 states/UTs account for 78 percent of the total active cases in the country. Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi and West Bengal together account for more than 51 percent of the active cases," it said.

The total coronavirus cases mounted to 83,64,086 while the toll climbed to 1,24,315 with the novel coronavirus claiming 704 lives in a span of 24 hours in the country, the data updated at 8 am showed.

The global tally of coronavirus cases stands at 48,387,339. While 34,633,159 have recovered, 1,229,542 have died so far. The US, the worst-hit country, has 9,794,741 cases, and 2,39,780 have died from the disease there. It is followed by India, which has 8,364,086 cases, Brazil (5,590,941) and Russia (1,693,454), according to data maintained by worldometers.info.

Delhi's coronavirus situation critical, positivity rate now 12.84%

Delhi reported over 6,700 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, pushing the infection tally to over 4.16 lakh and the positivity rate to 12.84 percent, while 66 new fatalities, the highest in around four months, took the toll from the virus to 6,769.

This is the third consecutive day when Delhi reported over 6000 cases in a day. Delhi had reported 6,842 cases on Wednesday, the maximum till date, and 6,725 cases on Tuesday. The city had recorded over 5,000 daily cases for five days on the trot ending Sunday, when the count stood at 5,664.

The tally of active cases rose to 38,729 on Thursday from 37,379 the previous day, the bulletin said, adding that the total number of cases has climbed to 4,16,653 in the National Capital.

The number of containment zones in Delhi increased to 3,684 from 3,596 on Wednesday, the bulletin mentioned.

The Delhi chief minister has blamed the ongoing festival season and the pollution for the rise in cases. The government of the NCT of Delhi is now looking at augmenting the bed capacity in its hospitals and deploying mobile testing vans in markets and crowded places across the city.

With regard to reserving beds in private hospitals, the chief minister said the Delhi High Court has stayed the AAP government's order to increase ICU beds in private hospitals.

The Delhi government has filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court, to lift the stay on the reservation of beds in private hospitals, keeping in view the critical coronavirus situation.

On Thursday, it also banned the sale of firecrackers from 7 November till 30 November in order to bring down the pollution levels in Delhi.

UGC issues guidelines for reopening of varsities

Following a six-day schedule, reducing class size, setting up isolation facilities on campus, and COVID-19 screening of students, faculty and staff are among the guidelines announced by the University Grants Commission (UGC) for reopening of universities and colleges closed since March in view of the pandemic.

For central universities and other centrally funded higher education institutions, the decision for reopening of campuses has been left to the vice-chancellors and heads.

However, for state universities and colleges, the respective state governments will have to take a call, the guidelines said.

"To avoid the risk of transmission, students, faculty and staff should be screened and symptomatic ones are advised to get clinically assessed before allowing them entry into the campus," the guidelines said.

"Isolation facilities for symptomatic persons and quarantine facilities for those who were in contact with the positively tested persons should be there on campus or a tie-up may be made in advance with some government hospital or approved premises or as advised by the local authorities, so that, in case of necessity, prompt action may be taken.

"Proper arrangement of safety, health, food, water should be ensured for those in quarantine and isolation facilities," the UGC said.

"Students of all research programmes and post-graduate students in science and technology programmes may join as the number of such students is comparatively less and norms of physical distancing and preventive measures can be easily enforced.

"Final year students may also be allowed to join for academic and placement purposes, as per the decision of the head of the institution," it added.

The commission has said that the institutions should have a plan ready for such international students who could not join the programme due to international travel restrictions or visa-related issues.

"Hostels may be opened only in such cases where it is necessary while strictly observing the safety and health preventive measures. However, the sharing of rooms may not be allowed in hostels. Symptomatic students should not be permitted to stay in the hostels under any circumstances," it said.

Govt to reopen museums, art galleries; domestic flights to be increased

The cap on the number of domestic flights that Indian airlines are permitted to operate would be increased to 70-75 percent of their pre-COVID levels as the passenger traffic surges, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) said on Thursday.

The ministry had said last week that the Indian airlines can operate maximum 60 percent of their pre-COVID domestic passenger flights till 24 February next year due to the prevailing coronavirus situation.

The ministry had resumed domestic passenger services from 25 May, after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus -triggered lockdown. However, the airlines were allowed to operate not more than 33 percent of their pre-COVID domestic flights.

The Centre is also allowing museums, art galleries, exhibitions under Culture Ministry to reopen from 10 November.  According to the standard operating procedures (SoPs), temperature screening of all visitors has been made mandatory along with registering their contact details to ensure tracking in case any positive case is found in the museum and art gallery.

Visitors coming in vehicles may keep their belongings in their vehicles to avoid baggage checks at the entrance, it said.

Sanitisation of premises at regular intervals and the wearing of masks by all visitors has also been made mandatory while the use of audio guides has been barred unless they can be disinfected after every use.

The guidelines state that lift operations are to be limited, preferably reserved for physically challenged or the elderly. It has also advised limited use of touch-based digital technology except in cases where disinfection can be ensured after every use.

China suspends visas for Indians

The Chinese embassy in India on Thursday said that China has decided to temporarily suspend the entry into the country by foreign nationals from India holding valid visas or residence permits in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

Indian government sources told PTI that the announcement made by the Chinese embassy indicated that the measure was a temporary one and that it is not India specific as measures have been initiated in respect of several other countries.

The sources said the government of India is in touch with the Chinese side to facilitate essential travel of Indians to and from China. This does not affect individuals who have been granted a visa after 3 November.

COVID-19 updates from States

West Bengal government is finally ready to allow the suburban train network to resume functioning from 11 November.  The services in Eastern Railway's Sealdah and Howrah divisions and South Eastern Railways Howrah-Kharagpur division will be run on a demand basis, officials said.

Officials said that 181 pairs of suburban trains (or 362 trains) will be initially run in three divisions from next week and a future decision will be taken after assessing the number of passengers and adherence to COVID-19 protocols.

Suburban railway services in all the three divisions were stopped since the pandemic struck in late March and lockdown began.

However, the decision to resume services was taken after passenger agitation for immediate resumption of local trains.

Karnataka, meanwhile, took the next step in its fight against COVID-19 . The state, which saw over 3,500 new cases today and more than 5,700 recoveries, will set up rehabilitation centres in all district hospitals for the benefit of those cured of the viral infection. The state also commissioned studies on cases where COVID-19 proved fatal and also on reinfection in recovered patients.

Uttar Pradesh health officials expressed concern about the rising number of fresh infections in districts adjoining Delhi and those near the National Capital Region.

Additional Chief Secretary, Information, Navneet Sehgal said though the number of positive cases being detected from most places in UP is gradually coming down, there are reports of rise in cases in districts adjoining Delhi.

He said there is an urgent need to take all necessary precautions, including frequent hand washing, use of masks and social distancing, especially during the festive season.

According to a health department bulletin, 11 fresh deaths have been reported from Lucknow, where 221 new cases have also been detected. A total of 164 fresh cases have been reported from Meerut, 148 from Gautam Budhnagar and 141 from Ghaziabad, the bulletin said.

Maharashtra's COVID-19 tally on Thursday crossed the 17 lakh-mark after it recorded 5,246 fresh cases, while more than 11,000 patients recovered from the infection, a state health department official said.

With the addition of the new cases in the last 24 hours, the state's COVID-19 tally rose to 17,03,444. The state also reported 117 more deaths, taking the fatality count to 44,804, he said.

The number of active cases in the state, which amounts for the highest caseload in the national tally, dropped down to 1,06,519.

With inputs from PTI

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