Latest News Highlights: The recovery rate is 96.93 per cent.

New Delhi:

New cases of coronavirus infection in India were recorded above 15,000 taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,12,44,786, according to the Union Health Ministry data.

The COVID-19 active caseload is 1,87,462 which now comprises 1.67 per cent of the total infections.

The recovery rate has increased to 96.93 per cent, the data stated.

A total of 15,388 new infections were registered in a day, while the death toll increased to 1,57,930 with 77 daily new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.

Meanwhile, India has been at the forefront in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and “really stands out” in terms of its vaccine policy, Chief Economist of the IMF Gita Gopinath said on Monday, as she hailed the country for playing a very important role during the crisis by manufacturing and shipping the COVID-19 vaccines to several nations.

Ms Gopinath made the comments in an interactive session during the Inaugural Dr. Hansa Mehta Lecture organised on occasion of International Women’s Day.

Here are the Latest News Highlights:

Red Cross warns of glaring gap in vaccine roll-out

The Red Cross warned of a glaring gap in the plans to roll out Covid-19 vaccines around the world, saying remote communities risked missing out. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is aiming to help vaccinate 500 million people against the disease.

The IFRC, which calls itself the world’s largest humanitarian network, is planning to throw its expertise into the distribution and acceptance of vaccines among some of the hardest-to-reach communities. But it said that while the procurement of vaccines and delivery to airport hubs was crucial, “too little thought” had been given to the next step: how those doses would be distributed within countries, including the “last mile” in getting to those furthest away.

Supply chain strain threatening Covid vaccine mass scale-up

The unprecedented scaling-up of vaccine manufacturing to counter Covid-19 has sparked dangerous shortages in the supply chain, global players acknowledged Tuesday after brainstorming how to speed up production of the jabs. Starting at zero when the pandemic began, vaccine manufacturers expect to be able to produce some 10 billion doses of various Covid-19 vaccines this year — double the manufacturing capacity for all vaccines combined in 2019.

“This is the largest ramping up of manufacturing the world has ever seen,” Thomas Cueni, the head of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), told a virtual press briefing. But the strain of this massive scale-up is beginning to show, Cueni acknowledged, after participating in a two-day online meeting on ways to unblock bottlenecks and rapidly boost vaccine production to combat the coronavirus that has killed 2.6 million people in 14 months.

Live Updates: First Quad summit to take place on March 12

The first-ever summit of the leaders of the Quadrilateral Framework or “Quad” will take place virtually on March 12, the Ministry of External Affairs announced on Tuesday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the discussion which will also witness the participation of the United States President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The leaders will discuss ongoing efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and explore opportunities for collaboration in ensuring safe, equitable and affordable vaccines in the Indo-Pacific region, the statement read from the External Affairs Ministry.

PM Modi, Joe Biden To Meet Virtually On Friday As Part Of “Quad” Event

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the first online summit of the Quad bloc of nations tomorrow, where the new US President Joe Biden is also participating. It is not yet known if they will have an exclusive meeting. The two leaders have had telephonic conversations twice, the last one after Mr Biden’s victory, where among other issues, they had discussed the Quad meeting. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga are the two other participants of the Quad – revived in 2017 to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region. 

Holiday in constituencies on day of polling in Assam

The Assam government on Tuesday declared paid holidays in constituencies where the assembly elections will be held in three phases.

The move is aimed at enabling workers and employees in these areas to cast their votes, an official release said.

The holidays will be applicable in all factories, plantations, shops, commercial establishments and banking institutions in the constituencies, it said.

“Gross Interference”: India Summons Envoy Over UK Debate On Farm Laws

India called in the British High Commissioner today to express its disapproval of the discussions on farmers’ protest and press freedom in the British parliament, calling it “gross interference” and “votebank politics”.  This is the first time the government of another nation has officially conducted internal discussions on the protests, which have been continuing for more than 100 days.

The 90-minute debate was held on Monday, during which several MPs of the Labour party, Liberal democrats and the Scottish National Party raised concern over the Indian government’s reaction to the protests.

No immediate lockdown in Mumbai amid rise in COVID-19 cases: Civic officials
Despite the rise in COVID-19 cases, the situation in Mumbai is under control and there is no immediate need to impose a lockdown in the city, senior civic officials said on Tuesday.

Mumbai on Monday recorded 1,008 fresh infections that raised its tally to 3,34,572.

When asked about the possibility of imposing a lockdown, municipal commissioner Iqbal Chahal said there was no immediate need to do so.

According to civic officials, the surge in cases is a result of an increase in daily testing.

Afghanistan receives 468,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine from India
Afghanistan on Monday received 468,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine ”Covishield” from the Serum Institute of India (SII).

In a tweet, Afghanistan envoy to India Farid Mamundzay said, “468,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine, from the Astra Zeneca Serum Institute of India arrived yesterday at HKI airport. Afghanistan”s Ministry of Public Health was there to receive the shipment and expressed gratitude on behalf of Afghanistan. Vaccines help us save lives and prevent transmission.”

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat Resigns
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has resigned as part of the BJP’s course-correction ahead of polls next year. He had met with the BJP leadership yesterday in Delhi.
Mr Rawat, 60, handed in his resignation to Governor Baby Rani Maurya a short while ago.

One of his ministers, Dhan Singh Rawat, is ahead in the race to replace him as Chief Minister. Intensifying speculation, Dhan Singh Rawat, who was in Garhwal, took a private chopper to state capital Dehradun this afternoon.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister To Meet Governor Today Amid Resignation Buzz

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat will meet the Governor today amid reports that he will resign. He had met with the BJP leadership yesterday in Delhi.

Mr Rawat has called a press meet, where he may announce his resignation before meeting with Governor Baby Rani Maurya.

Reports said he was rated “below average” by his own party MLAs, who felt that his leadership would bring down the party in the Uttarakhand polls due by February.

COVID-19 vaccination coverage in India crosses 2.3 crores

The nationwide COVID-19 vaccination has crossed 2.3 crores coverage, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday.

The ministry said more than 2 million vaccine doses were administered in the last 24 hours.

According to health ministry data, as on Day-52 of the vaccination drive, 20,19,723 vaccine doses were given. Out of which, 17,15,380 beneficiaries were vaccinated across 28,884 sessions for the first dose (HCWs and FLWs) and 3,04,343 healthcare workers (HCWs) and frontline workers (FLWs) received a second dose of vaccine.

“These include 70,75,010 HCWs (1st dose), 37,39,478 HCWs (2nd dose), 67,92,319FLWs (1st dose) and 3,25,972 FLWs (2nd Dose), 7,01,809 beneficiaries aged more than 45 years with specific co-morbidities (1st Dose) and 43,74,145 beneficiaries aged more than 60 years,” the health ministry said.

COVID-19: Odisha government restrict congregation, melas on occasion of Maha Shivaratri

Amid the surge in COVID-19 cases, the Odisha government on Tuesday restricted any kind of congregation on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri on March 11.

In a letter to Collectors and Municipal Commissioners, the Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) has directed them to restrict congregations, gatherings to such number as may be felt appropriate in view of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic situation considering local situations, circulation space availing within temples and its premises to enter strictly adhering to the Covid-19 safety protocols.

“Mela and congregations outside or within the temple premises may also be reasonably restricted so as to avoid mass gatherings and crowding,” the guideline stated.

The guideline further stated that the social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural and religious functions and other gatherings shall be allowed with a ceiling of 500 persons subject to strict adherence to the COVID-19 safety protocols.

Aurangabad records 388 new COVID-19 cases; 4 more deaths

With the addition of 388 new cases of coronavirus, the tally of infections in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district has risen to 53,357, an official said on Tuesday.

Apart from the latest cases recorded on Monday, the district also reported four more casualties due to the infection that have taken the toll to 1,296, the official said.

At least 550 patients were discharged from various treatment facilities, raising the number of recoveries to 49,009, he said.

The district is now left with 3,052 active cases, he said.

Senior BJP leader LK Advani took his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS Delhi today.

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No fresh COVID-19 case reported in Arunachal for 3 days

Arunachal Pradesh did not report any new COVID-19 case in the last three days, a senior health official said on Tuesday.

The northeastern state’s coronavirus tally stands at 16,839, of which three are active cases, while 16,780 people have recovered from the disease and 56 patients have succumbed to the infection so far, State Surveillance Officer Dr Lobsang Jampa said.

The recovery rate among the coronavirus patients in the state stands at 99.64 per cent, he said.

DMK president MK Stalin took his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Kauvery hospital in Chennai today.

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Coronavirus LIVE Updates: Ranbir Kapoor tests positive for COVID-19

Actor Ranbir Kapoor has tested positive for COVID-19 and is under self quarantine, his actor-mother Neetu Kapoor said on Tuesday.

In an Instagram post, the veteran actor said Ranbir was recovering well.

“Thank you for your concern and your good wishes Ranbir has tested positive for COVID-19. He is on medication and recovering well.

“He is in self quarantine at home and following all precautions,” she wrote.

Last month, Ranbir, 38, was shooting for his upcoming film “Brahmastra” along with co-star Alia Bhatt.

Neetu, 62, had also tested positive for COVID-19 last year while shooting for her film “Jug Jugg Jeeyo” in Chandigarh.

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India helping to address issue of vaccine equity: top UN Women official

Lauding India for its vaccine leadership, a top UN Women official has said the country was directly helping to address the issue of vaccine equity while rich nations were “cutting side deals” with pharmaceutical giants to buy more vaccines than they actually need.

India is called the pharmacy of the world during the COVID-19 pandemic with its vast experience and deep knowledge in medicine. The country is one of the world’s biggest drug-makers and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring coronavirus vaccines.

Praising India for its vaccine leadership, Assistant-Secretary-General & Deputy Executive Director of UN Women Anita Bhatia said India is directly helping to address the issue of vaccine equity at a time when the world deals with the crippling coronavirus pandemic and rich countries are “cutting side deals” with pharmaceutical companies to buy more vaccines than they actually need.

“India is a leader. I’m so proud of my country for this because there are so many people in need of vaccines,” Ms Bhatia told PTI in an interview.

Paresh Rawal receives COVID-19 vaccine

Veteran actor and former BJP MP Paresh Rawal on Tuesday said that he has received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

The 65-year-old actor took to Twitter and shared a picture, flashing the victory sign at a vaccine centre.

“V for vaccines! Thanks to all the doctors and nurses and the front line health care workers and the scientists. Thanks @narendramodi,” Mr Rawal tweeted. 

His wife, actor and life skills teacher Swaroop Rawal also recently received the first jab of the vaccine. 

“Follow the leader… I got my #COVID19Vaccine did you?” the 62-year-old actor had tweeted on March 6. 

Coronavirus LIVE Updates: Thane records 610 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths

With the addition of 610 new cases of coronavirus, the infection count in Maharashtra’s Thane district has gone up to 2,70,455,an official said on Tuesday.

These new cases were reported on Monday, he said.

Four more persons also died of the viral infection, pushing the toll in the district to 6,306, he said, adding that the COVID-19 mortality rate in Thane is 2.33 per cent.

So far, 2,56,869 patients have recuperated from the infection in the district, which reflects a recovery rate of 94.97 per cent.

There are 7,280 active COVID-19 cases in the district at present, the official said.

Covid-19 LIVE Updates: Recoveries continue to outnumber fresh cases in Telangana

Recoveries continued to outnumber the number of new COVID-19 cases in Telangana as the tally of positive cases rose to just above three lakh, while two deaths took the toll to 1,644, the state government said on Tuesday.

As many as 178 people were cured of the virus against 142 fresh cases as of 8 PM on Sunday.

The maximum of 31 cases were reported by Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), followed by Rangareddy and Medchal Malkajgiri districts with 12 and 10 cases respectively, a government bulletin said.

The total number of cases in the state stood at 3,00,153, while recoveries were 2,96,740 and 1,769 patients were under treatment at different hospitals.

Update| Total vaccination coverage has crossed 2.3 crores, 20 lakh people received COVID-19 vaccine in a single day yesterday: Union Health Ministry

JustIn| 15,388 fresh COVID-19 cases in India, 17% lower than yesterday; 1.12 crore total cases, 1,57,930 deaths
COVID-19: Lockdown at 16 hotspots in Thane from today

Amid the rise in COVID-19 cases, Thane Municipal Corporation on Tuesday imposed a lockdown at 16 hotspot areas from today till March 31.

Activities will be allowed in areas outside hotspots as per relaxation given under Mission Begin Again by the Maharashtra government.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra reported 8,744 new COVID-19 cases, 9,068 recoveries, and 22 deaths in the last 24 hours, the State Health Department informed on Monday.

The state has so far reported 22,28,471 total COVID-19 cases, out of which, 97,637 active cases, the Maharashtra Health Department said. A total of 52,500 people have died due to COVID-19 in the state so far.

Update| Over 7.4 lakh samples were tested for COVID-19 yesterday; taking number of total samples tested so far to over 22 crores, says Indian Council of Medical Research
CRPF organized a free medical health check-up camp and distributed free medicines under the Civic Action Program in Mandi village of Udhampur district yesterday.

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Kolkata Fire: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal orders probe into Eastern Railway office building fire in Kolkata

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has set up a high-level committee to ascertain the cause of the fire at an Eastern Railway office building in Kolkata in which nine people were killed on Monday.

The fire, which broke out on the 13th floor of the sprawling New Koilaghat building on Strand Road at around 6.10 pm on Monday, is now under control and the cooling process is on, officials said.

“Sincere condolences to the families of the nine brave deceased including the four firefighters, two Railways personnel and a police ASI who have been fighting the fire at the Eastern Railways Strand road office in Kolkata.

“Railway officials including the GM are at the site and are working in coordination with the state govt for rescue and relief efforts. We are committed to doing everything possible to ensure the safety of all concerned,” Mr Goyal said in a tweet late last night.

He said all possible assistance has been provided by the Railways to the state government during this “unfortunate” fire accident.

Made in India COVID-19 vaccines reach Belize, a country in Central America.

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Update| Thane Municipal Corporation imposes lockdown in COVID-19 hotspot areas, from today till March 31. So far, 16 areas have been identified as hotspots in Thane.

Activities will be allowed in areas outside hotspots as per relaxation given under Mission Begin Again by Maharashtra government.

Made in India COVID-19 vaccines reach Jamaica

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Kamal Haasan’s Party To Fight In 154 Seats In Tamil Nadu, Rest For 2 Allies

Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan’s party Makkal Needhi Maiam (MKM) on Monday announced contesting on 154 out of 234 assembly seats in Tamil Nadu assembly elections. The party left the remaining 80 seats for its two alliance partners – All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi and Indhiya Jananayaga Katchi – that will contest on 40 seats each.

The MNM had secured around 4 per cent votes in 2019 Lok Sabha election, with its share going as high as 10 per cent in the urban pockets.

Dr R Mahendran, MNM vice-president and its candidate from Coimbatore, had clocked 1.45 lakh votes or 11.6% of the total vote share the constituency.

India “Really Stands Out” In Terms Of Vaccine Policy: IMF’s Gita Gopinath
India has been at the forefront in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and “really stands out” in terms of its vaccine policy, Chief Economist of the IMF Gita Gopinath said on Monday, as she hailed the country for playing a very important role during the crisis by manufacturing and shipping the COVID-19 vaccines to several nations.

Ms Gopinath made the comments in an interactive session during the Inaugural Dr. Hansa Mehta Lecture organised on occasion of International Women’s Day.

“I also want to mention that India really stands out in terms of its vaccine policy. If you look at where exactly is one manufacturing hub for vaccines in the world – that will be India,” Ms Gopinath said.