Maharashtra, Kerala and Punjab together account for 76.4% of active COVID-19 cases currently, with Maharashtra alone contributing nearly 60%, said data released by the Health Ministry on Wednesday.
You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.
Here are the latest updates:
Stelis Biopharma to make 200 million doses of Russian Sputnik V vaccine
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the country’s sovereign wealth fund, and Stelis Biopharma, the biopharmaceutical division of Bengaluru-based Strides Pharma, have entered into a partnership to produce and supply a minimum of 200 million doses (enough to vaccinate 100 million people) of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus.
The agreement between RDIF and Stelis Biopharma was reached under the aegis of Enso Healthcare LLP (part of Enso Group), RDIF’s coordination partner for sourcing Sputnik V vaccine in India, as per a joint statement.
According to the statement, the parties intend to commence supplies of the vaccine from the third quarter of calendar 2021. Stelis will also continue to work with the RDIF to provide additional supply volumes beyond the initial agreement.
 Three new COVID-19 clusters emerge in Yelahanka zone in Bengaluru
Three new clusters have been detected in Yelahanka zone, taking the total number of active clusters to five. However, contact tracing is proving to be a nightmare as one family visited a temple despite being asked to remain in home isolation.
Among the new clusters, seven residents of an apartment in Vidyaranyapura ward have tested positive for COVID-19. The first positive case was detected on March 8 after a person returned from Kerala and developed symptoms. As a precautionary measure, BBMP health officials had advised other residents to stay indoors, even though they all initially tested negative.
However, one family went to ISKCON temple on March 9. The four family members developed symptoms on March 14 and tested positive the next day. On March 17, two more residents tested positive.
We have intimated our counterparts in West zone. They will have to inform ISKCON authorities. It is very difficult to trace the secondary contacts, who may have visited the temple the same day as the family, a health officer said.
Rising cases may lead RBI to delay liquidity normalisation
Indias central bank may have to delay the start of monetary policy normalisation by three months amid rising COVID-19 cases, but barring the return of stringent lockdowns there is no significant threat to the economys recovery, analysts say.
Having seen a peak of daily cases of almost 1,00,000 in late September, infections had been on a steady decline but have now started rising again over the last month.
Even as the increase in the current caseload points to the risk of a second wave, more localised and less stringent restrictions will help contain the economic impact versus the initial wave, said Radhika Rao, an economist with DBS Bank.
DBS has retained its assumptions for a stronger pick-up in March quarter growth versus the December 2020 quarter.
Karnataka govt. hospitals to ready 1,000 beds soon
With a second wave of COVID-19 outbreak imminent and three more clusters detected in Bengaluru on Thursday, the Karnataka government is gearing up to keep hospitals equipped.
As many as 1,000 COVID-19 beds will be readied in government hospitals and government medical colleges in the next 15 days, Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar said.
Addressing presspersons on Thursday after a meeting with senior health officials and heads of government hospitals and medical colleges, the Minister said he had asked all hospitals to keep beds ready on a mission mode. This apart, nearly 1,000 beds would also become functional from Monday in three COVID-19 care centres being set up in Bengaluru.
Amid rise in cases, Gujarat imposes additional curbs
The Gujarat government on Thursday imposed additional restrictions, including shutting down of schools and colleges, cancelling exams scheduled for college students and also shutting down malls/ shopping plazas and multiplexes on the weekends amidst rising COVID-19 cases in the second wave.
The State on Thursday recorded 1,276 cases and three deaths as the second wave of pandemic has struck, with alarming numbers of new infections in cities like Ahmedabad and Surat.
In Ahmedabad and Surat, the civic bodies have also increased the timing of night curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. while public transport bus services have been halted and all public parks, gardens and gyms have been shut in order to prevent people from gathering as the infection is surging.
Over 3.89 cr. vaccine doses administered so far: Centre
The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed 3.89 crore on Thursday, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday.
A total of 3,89,20,259 vaccine doses have been given, as per the provisional report till 7 p.m. on Thursday.
They include 76,19,786 to Health Care Workers (HCWs) who have taken the first dose and 46,92,962 HCWs who have taken the second dose, 78,11,126 Frontline Workers (FLWs) (first dose), 21,50,198 FLWs (second dose), 1,39,18,245 beneficiaries more than 60 years old and 27,27,942 beneficiaries aged 45 and above with specific co-morbidities.
A total of 17,83,303 vaccine doses have been given till 7 p.m. on Thursday, the 62nd day of nation-wide vaccination.
Govt. hospitals get ready for surge in cases
With the number of fresh COVID-19 infections steadily rising in the city, the government hospitals are in a state of preparedness.
The infrastructure created was in place and the hospitals are gearing up to add more facilities and manpower in case of a surge.
The major government medical college hospitals set up exclusive COVID-19 facilities last year. As the number of fresh cases started to decline, the hospitals resumed their regular activities such as elective surgeries and outpatient services since October 2020.
In the last 10 days, the number of cases had been rising in Chennai. However, hospital authorities said the treatment facilities were intact.
EU drug regulator backs AstraZeneca vaccine after safety investigation
The EUs drug watchdog said on March 18 it is still convinced the benefits of AstraZenecas COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks following an investigation into reports of blood disorders that prompted more than a dozen nations to suspend its use.
The news came as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) director Emer Cooke said the agency could not definitively rule out a link to blood clot incidents and the vaccine in its investigation into 30 cases of a rare blood clotting condition. It will however update its guidance to include an explanation about the potential risks for doctors and the public, she said.
The agency has been under growing pressure to clear up safety concerns after a small number of reports in recent weeks of bleeding, blood clots and low platelet counts in people who have received the shot.
File status report on COVID-19 measures by April 6, HC tells Telangana
Telangana High Court on Thursday sought to know what steps had the State government taken to keep a tab on incidence of COVID-19 in the recently opened schools and colleges.
Observing that these places witness huge gatherings in classes and students would be appearing for exams in coming days, a bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy said that it was imperative that the State focused on this aspect. We keep hearing that second wave of coronavirus had hit many countries and we dont want our State to go that way, the bench noted.
The Bench wanted to know what measures the State government had initiated to screen passengers entering Telangana from neighbouring States of Maharashtra and Karnataka which witnessed a spike in COVID-19 cases. Those entering the State through bus stations, railway stations and airport were having the potential to spread the virus.
Centre says no to vaccination points in old age homes, care facilities
The Centre has ruled out the possibility of COVID-19 vaccination centres (CVCs) in old age homes and long-term care facilities, as CVCs have to meet certain requirements to provide safe vaccination. This has irked authorities of old age homes and other long-term care facilities.
The Centres No follows a request from Karnataka seeking permission to set up CVCs beyond health facilities (such as old age homes, long-term care facilities, apartment complexes and identified polling booths) to ramp up vaccination coverage among the elderly.
In a letter dated March 17 addressed to Jawaid Akhtar, Additional Chief Secretary (Health and Family Welfare), Vandana Gurnani, Union Additional Secretary and Mission Director, National Health Mission (NHM), has said that CVCs should have adequate space for vaccination, adequate cold chain arrangements for vaccine storage, arrangements for management of Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI).
These facilities would then also need to be registered on CoWIN to enable session planning, reporting of AEFI and allocation of vaccines. Based on the analysis done from Co-WIN, it is observed that out of 460 private health facilities empanelled under Ayushman Bharat – Arogya Karnataka (AB-ArK) in the State, only 55 are registered on Co-WIN, the letter stated.
France announces soft new virus restrictions in Paris region
The French government backed off from ordering a tough lockdown for Paris and several other regions despite an increasingly alarming situation at hospitals with a rise in the numbers of COVID-19 patients.
Instead, the Prime Minister on March 18 announced a patchwork of new restrictions while reducing the national curfew by one hour.
Getting large doses of fresh air is being encouraged, meaning that people living in the Paris region and in the north of the country can walk as long as they like in a day, but within a 10-kilometre (6-mile) radius of their homes and with a paper authorising the stroll.
Stores, however, will feel the pinch with all non-essential outlets but not bookshops closing down. And travel between regions is forbidden without a compelling reason.
Centres move to stop vaccine exports might affect United Kingdom
With India, and particularly Maharashtra, witnessing a renewed surge in COVID-19 cases, the United Kingdoms vaccination programme could hit a roadblock as the Indian government is temporarily staying exports to address the increased domestic vaccination demands.
Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Serum Institute of India (SII) which is manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, told the UKs Telegraph newspaper that the situation was solely dependent on the Indian government and had nothing to do with the SII.
It is solely dependent on India and it has nothing to do with the SII. It is to do with the Indian government allowing more doses to the U.K., Mr. Poonawalla told The Telegraph.
According to the paper, Mr. Poonawalla confirmed that five million doses of the Oxford vaccine had already been delivered to the U.K. early this month.